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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 1

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Verses 1-4


The first book of the Kings and the second book of the Kings are one book in the Hebrew Old Testament. They are seen as the continuation of the historical narrative which started in the books of Samuel. In the first book of the Kings and the second book of the Kings we have to do with the end of a history that started in the book of Joshua and is further described in the book of Judges and the following books. The first book of Chronicles and the second book of Chronicles describe a new beginning, together with the book of Ezra and the book of Nehemiah. In it we find a look ahead to the kingdom of peace.

There is a great difference in character between the books of Kings and the books of Chronicles. The books of Kings are written before the exile. The books of Chronicles are written after the exile.

In the first book of the Kings and the second book of the Kings the history is described from the point of view of the responsibility of the kingship, based on the law. There we see the kingship as entrusted to man and through which he is put to the test. That means the fall of the kingship, that especially comes before our attention in the books of Kings in the history of the ten tribes. The judgment consists of the scattering of the ten tribes (722 BC) and having the two tribes (586 BC) carried away into exile. After the fall of Israel, the ten tribes, the fall of Judah, the two tribes, is not long in coming, although in Judah there were times of recovery.

In the books of Chronicles everything is seen from the view point of God’s counsel, from the side of grace, how God likes to think back to history. There the history of the two tribes is described, because there is Jerusalem with the temple as the dwelling place of God. In short, in the books of Chronicles we see the priestly side, while the books Kings represent the prophetic side.

The books of Kings, in which the end of the history of God’s people and then mainly the ten tribes kingdom is described, start with a new development. A few things are added to what is already said, but its aim is to introduce the new. What is still said of David is to enter the new king, Solomon. We also have this history in the books of Chronicles. In the first book of the Kings we see how Solomon becomes king. The dangerous conditions require him to become king quickly. There is a lot of acting of people.

That is different in the first book of Chronicles. There David makes Solomon king (1 Chronicles 23:1) and everything happens in complete peace. The anointing of Solomon also happens in rest, without dangers and revolt, because everything happens according to the intention of God (1 Chronicles 29:22). Thus the Lord Jesus will be introduced into the world entirely according to God’s plan and independent of man.

The history we have in the books of Kings shows the other side, the other viewpoint, which is just as true. The bad deeds of man are the reason for the kingship of Solomon. He becomes king, humanly spoken, by the vigilance of faithful servants of David, his friends. God uses our actions in His ways, so that through our actions what He has intended to do will happen.

The Old David

These verses show the weakness and old age of David. He is almost seventy years old here (2 Samuel 5:4). We see nothing of that in the first book of Chronicles. He is old early. This is the result of an eventful life with many hardships. Thus, before he became king, he was always on the run from Saul. And when once he was king, he waged many wars (1 Chronicles 22:8). His adultery with Bathsheba and the subsequent dramas in his family have also marked him and robbed him of his strength.

David has become bedridden and can’t rule anymore. The decisions are taken for him. If blankets no longer give him warmth, the proposal is made to look for a young woman to give him warmth. This proposal does not encounter any resistance from him. They think and act for him. He gets a wife, but does not treat her like his wife, he does not cohabit with her. She is his nurse. This fact is the reason for Adonijah, when his first plan to become king has failed, to try to gain possession of the kingdom through her (1 Kings 2:17).

Verses 5-10

Adonijah Wants to Become King

The sword would not depart from David’s house because of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:10). He must, according to the judgment that he has pronounced upon himself, pay fourfold for his sin (2 Samuel 12:6). That is what has happened. God strikes four of His sons. The child of Bathsheba is taken away by God, Amnon is killed by the hand of Absalom, Absalom is killed by Joab and Adonijah will be the fourth one to die.

Adonijah (meaning ‘my Lord is Yahweh’) is now the eldest son. He was born after Absalom, but from another mother (2 Samuel 3:3-Numbers :). He wants the kingdom, to which he lays a claim as the oldest living son. It is clear to everyone that God has determined it differently. Adonijah knows that too. He betrays this by not inviting Solomon. He resists the word God has spoken concerning Solomon. He is a picture of the antichrist. This is evident from what he says: “I will be king” (1 Kings 1:5; cf. Isaiah 14:13-2 Chronicles :; Daniel 11:36). This is self-will, the principle of sin (1 John 3:4). This statement shows his pride and his rebellion against God. He follows the same way as Absalom (2 Samuel 15:1).

Adonijah is a beautiful boy, but with a depraved character. The reason for this is that David never crossed or punished him throughout his life. Here David is not a picture of the Lord Jesus or the Father, but of the exercises of the Spirit of Christ Who wants to bring him to act in accordance with God. However, David is not up to that. He did not assume his responsibility in his family.

Instead, he has been guided by the beautiful appearance of his children. We have also seen this in his attitude towards Absalom (2 Samuel 15-19). Often the testimony that should go out from the families of believers is damaged by preferential treatment in the upbringing of the children. God acts differently. He proves His love precisely through discipline (Proverbs 13:24).

David never blamed Adonijah. It seems that he never refused him anything he wanted to have or do. He will also never have asked him to account for what he had done, or where he had been and never have punished him for the wrong. Now David must suffer righteously for his permissiveness to him. Those who honor their sons more than God by not giving them the necessary punishment, lose the honor they can expect from their sons.

Joab and Abjathar join Adonijah .Joab can always be found in the place where he thinks he can get the most benefit. He thinks only of himself. He thinks David can’t do anything anymore because of old age and weakness and chooses the side of what he thinks is the strongest party. Abjathar is, as Eli’s descendant, the representative of the religion over which the judgment has come. He does not accept that judgment, which is apparent from his choice for Adonijah.

Others, like Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah and the heroes of David, are not invited by Adonijah. The true priest (Zadok), the true prophet (Nathan) and the true servants (the heroes) have nothing to do with someone who claims authority. Adonijah doesn’t ask them, because he knows they won’t accept his offer to join. They have always been and will always be faithful to David. It’s a good thing when people don’t ask us to join in an evil cause because they know we will say no.

Adonijah hypocritically gives the conspiracy the appearance of paying homage to God by slaughtering animals, as if it were a peace offering. No doubt Adonijah will have abused his father’s weakness and old age to carry out his coup. However, his plans will fail because he overlooks God.

Verses 11-14

Nathan’s Advice

From 1 Kings 1:11 onwards the Holy Spirit describes in detail how Solomon becomes king through the actions of faithful people. God uses the sensible consultation of people dedicated to Him to fulfill His plans regarding Solomon. What happens in 1 Chronicles in rest – there is no question of Adonijah there –, without opposition and consultation, takes place here through many events. It is even presented in such a way, that Solomon and Bathsheba will lose their lives if the faithful do not act (1 Kings 1:12). Thus God watches over His purpose with Solomon, that it may be carried out and will not be frustrated.

The first one to perform is Nathan, the prophet. Humanly speaking, it is thanks to his alertness and perceptiveness that God’s plan does not fail. The prophet is the testimony of God’s will and is used by Him to carry out His will. With words of wisdom he informs Bathsheba about the situation that Adonijah has become king and that David doesn’t know about it. He gives her advice with a view to saving her own life and that of her son Solomon. If Adonijah became king, he would see them as his political opponents and eliminate them.

It is important to warn others who are in danger of their lives. This is about living in God’s people and especially about fulfilling God’s plans. If they are at risk, there must be a strong warning and consultation to ward off the danger. Our life is Christ. If there is a danger that we will not be able to show Him as our life, we must issue a warning and look at how we can prevent this.

Verses 15-21

Bathsheba With David

The hearts of Bathsheba and Nathan are one. What one says, the other does. There is unity in speaking and acting. Bathsheba does what Nathan has suggested. She goes to the old David, who doesn’t even seem to be able to get off his bed anymore. She approaches him with the appropriate acknowledgement that he is her ‘lord’ (cf. 1 Peter 3:6).

When David asks her what she wishes, she speaks to him the words that the prophet Nathan told her. She reminds him of what he promised her with regard to her son Solomon, and calls him to his responsibility to the people.

Verses 22-27

Nathan With David

While Bathsheba is still talking to David, Nathan appears on stage as appointed. He approaches the matter from a different angle than he had let Bathsheba say. He pretends it as if David has ordered Adonijah to succeed him. In doing so, he presents the case as it has been brought out.

He tells David what Adonijah did and said. What he wants to know of David is whether he really gave the command, for none of the faithful knows anything about it. His question is whether David wants to give clarity.

Verses 28-31

Solomon Will Be King

From 1 Kings 1:28 it appears that Bathsheba left after Nathan’s arrival. When Nathan has spoken, she is called again. David addresses the word to her. He swears by the LORD, the God of Israel, because it is His counsel. He wants to execute this council. He seems to be aware of a new attack by the enemy, but also that the LORD will redeem him from it, as He has done so many times before (cf. 2 Samuel 4:9; Psalms 34:22). He solemnly declares that Solomon will sit on the throne in his place. He speaks about “your son Solomon”. Thus, three times is spoken about Solomon as the son of Bathsheba (1 Kings 1:12; 1 Kings 1:171 Kings 1:30).

Solomon is also the son of the people. One day the people will say: “A Son will be given us” (Isaiah 9:6). The Bridegroom in Song of Songs speaks of the willing people (Darby Translation) by whom He is put on His royal chariot (Song of Solomon 6:12). The way is made for him by his people, as David was helped by the heroes in the acquisition of his kingship at the time (1 Chronicles 12:23). So through our faithfulness we can hasten the day of God (2 Peter 3:11-2 Kings :).

Verses 32-37

Command to Make Solomon King

Here David speaks of “my son Solomon” (1 Kings 1:33), the son of David. David calls Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah. He gives Zadok and Nathan the order to anoint Solomon as king over Israel. They must make his kingship known by blowing the trumpet and saying “[long] live King Solomon!” See also “[long] live King Adonijah!” in 1 Kings 1:25 and “may my lord King David live forever” in 1 Kings 1:31.

It is about who is king in the practice of our lives. Although the kingdom of God has not yet been openly established, we may already be in that kingdom (Romans 14:17-Job :; Colossians 1:13). The application of this chapter is whether the Lord Jesus is given the place of dominion in our lives and that from the heart. It is about giving Him the place in the practice of our lives God has given Him, whether He is on the throne in our lives, or whether we ourselves are on the throne of our lives.

David orders Solomon to sit on “my throne”. The kingship of Solomon was disputed. Therefore there had to be acted in this way. The kingship of David and also that of Saul has never been disputed. Solomon must sit on the mule, the animal of peace (Zechariah 9:9). Riding the king’s mule is the sign that he who sits on it will take his place on his throne as his successor. David says that he has appointed him ruler over Israel and over Judah. He can say this because he is completely in accordance with God’s plan.

Benaiah agrees wholeheartedly. He wishes that the word of the king will be a word of the LORD, and that the LORD will be with Solomon, as he was with David. He even wishes Solomon to be greater than David. This is entirely in accordance with the desires of David. Thus the reign of the Lord Jesus will be many times greater than the way of humiliation He once went on earth.

Verses 38-40

Solomon Anointed King

The anointing of Solomon is done by Zadok, together with Nathan (1 Kings 1:45). For this purpose the horn of oil is used from the tent that David erected on Zion for the ark (2 Samuel 6:17). The tabernacle is still in Gibeon. The oil will have been the holy anointing oil, with which the priests and the objects of the tabernacle were anointed (Exodus 30:23-Amos :). There has been shouting and cheering because of the anointing of Solomon.

Verses 41-49

Adonijah Is Informed

The whole event with Solomon takes place during the meal that Adonijah has caused to his own honor. The company is finished with the meal and is about to declare Adonijah king when Joab’s skilled ear distinguishes the sound from the trumpet. While he makes a remark about this, Jonathan comes in. Adonijah is not yet aware of any evil. He even sees the arrival of Jonathan as a good omen.

Jonathan is still a messenger, as he was eight or nine years earlier (2 Samuel 15:27; 2 Samuel 17:17). He comes with the message of the kingship of Solomon to Adonijah and his company. He mentions how this was done. It seems that he does so enthusiastically, rather than with fright.

Jonathan testifies to David’s choice and what David has arranged to make Solomon king. The faithful have had Solomon sit on the mule of David. Nathan and Zadok anointed him and took him to the city with cheers. There Solomon took a seat on the royal throne. All the ministers of David have agreed. Like Benaiah, they have expressed the wish that God will make Solomon’s name greater than that of David and his throne more exalted than David’s throne. Finally, Jonathan also tells something we have not read before: that David has bowed down in worship on the bed (cf. Genesis 47:31).

All acting with Solomon and taking his place on the throne is entirely according to David’s thoughts. He praises God for what his eyes see. He resembles Simeon who also saw the LORD’s salvation with his eyes (Luke 2:29-Amos :). Possibly David also says on this occasion what we read in 1 Chronicles 29 (1 Chronicles 29:10-Psalms :). As a matter of fact, it is a great satisfaction for God-fearing parents, when they fall asleep, to see that their children serve God and His people.

The triumph of the wicked is of short duration (Job 20:4-Deuteronomy :). Jonathan’s message causes enormous shock. Adonijah’s company is fleeing. This is the terror that will catch all when they are horrified to learn that God’s Anointed returns with power and majesty. This will happen at the moment when people celebrate the results they believe they have achieved in their striving to control everything to their own devices with the exclusion of God (Psalms 2:1-Leviticus :; 1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Verses 50-53

Solomon Spares Adonijah

Adonijah and his company flee away. They don’t think about resisting. The guests of Adonijah go as fast and as far away as possible, away from Adonijah. What first seemed to be a guarantee of benefit has become a life-threatening place. Now to be found in company of Adonijah equals suicide.

Adonijah himself flees to the altar. It is not mentioned where it is. There he seeks protection by seizing the horns of the altar (Exodus 21:13-2 Chronicles :). The horns symbolize power and strength. Seizing the horns of the altar means seeking protection in a place of salvation and life. By seizing the horns, the criminal places himself under the saving and helping grace of God, Who extinguishes sin and thereby takes away punishment.

For the first time and three times in these verses, there is talk of “King Solomon”. Solomon, as king, judges Adonijah and lets him bring to him. Adonijah recognizes him forced as king. We voluntarily acknowledge the Lord Jesus as Lord.

Solomon not only gives him life, but also his possessions. He is free to go to his house. Solomon also attaches a condition to it. Adonijah will stay alive as long as he does nothing that embarrasses the trust he gets. As soon as he does something wrong, he will be killed. In his first act in government, Solomon shows mercy and demands justice. So it will be when the Lord Jesus reigns (Psalms 101:8).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Kings 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-kings-1.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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