First notice that the Bible clearly tells us, “Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying,‘I will be king’” (1 Kings 1:5). His actions come right from
the Absalom School of Leadership, not by Yahweh’s direction through His prophet:
“He prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him”
(1 Kings 1:5; see also 2 Samuel 15:1). His handsome looks echo the descriptions of Saul, Eliab and Absalom, leaders rejected by Yahweh. Like Absalom, Adonijah’s training came under a father who refused to discipline him (1 Kings 1:6). Seeing the weakness of his father, he decided to take advantage of the situation and declare himself king with the help of some of the more influential men in the kingdom and to the exclusion of Solomon and his followers (1 Kings 1:7-10). All of this suggests that we are about to enter into the chapters of Absalom’s rebellion one more time, but now with Solomon as the target.
What prevents Adonijah from taking the throne, or Israel from falling into civil war? A promise made before Yahweh: “My Lord, you swore to your servant by the LORD your God, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’” (1 Kings 1:17). When David receives the testimony from two witnesses (Bathsheba and Nathan) about the urgency of Adonijah’s rebellion, he says, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, as I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ even so will I do this day” (1 Kings 1:29-30). “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, ‘Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, say so. As the LORD has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David’” (1 Kings 1:36-37). And divine approval stands out when Jonathan announces to Adonijah and his co-conspirators, “And the king also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD; the God of Israel, who has granted someone to sit on my throne this day, my own eyes seeing it’” (1 Kings 1:48). Adonijah’s rebellion only served to identify the enemies of the LORD’s anointed.
That is our background to understand 1 Kings 2 – 3. Solomon is commanded to follow Yahweh: “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and
keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is
written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the LORD may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in
faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel’” (1 Kings 2:3-4). And so he does, at least in the early part of his reign: “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father” (1 Kings 3:3).
But the enemies of Yahweh’s anointed demonstrate the rebellion in their hearts through 1 Kings 2. Just like in chapter 1, Adonijah trusts in political alliances more than in Yahweh’s anointing and dares to seek Bathsheba’s help to marry Abishag, a move that Solomon correctly sees as a step toward trying to take the throne (1 Kings 2:22). Bathsheba is very astute in saying that she will take his request to the king (1 Kings 2:18); I believe that she knows perfectly well that with this request, Adonijah has just signed his own death sentence, and she simply will communicate it to the king so that he can act for the protection of his reign and for her protection as well. “Now therefore as the LORD lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today” (1 Kings 2:24). One of the
enemies of Yahweh’s anointed has been eliminated.
The second enemy of the anointed one is forced into retirement: “And to Abiathar the priest the king said, ‘Go to Anathoth, to your estate, for you deserve death. But I will not at this time put you to death, because you carried the ark of the Lord GOD before David my father, and because you shared in all my father’s affliction.’ So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the LORD, thus fulfilling the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh” (1 Kings 2:26-27). Remember that we read about the judgment of Eli’s house in 1 Samuel 2:27-36 and 3:11-14. Now we see the part of the prophecy fulfilled that said, “Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel” (1 Samuel 2:32). Also in today’s
reading we see the fulfillment of the part of the prophecy that says, “And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever” (1 Samuel 2:35). This is fulfilled in Zadok, the priest who did not support Adonijah and who anointed Solomon as king over Israel (1 Reyes 1:8, 39; 2:35).
The anointed one’s third enemy suspects that he will be eliminated like Adonijah even though there is no evidence that Solomon ordered his death at this time: “Joab fled to the tent of the LORD and caught hold of the horns of the altar” (1 Kings 2:28). His rebellion comes out in his direct disobedience of an order of the king: “So Benaiah came to the tent of the LORD and said to him, ‘The king
commands, “Come out.”’ But he said, ‘No, I will die here’” (1 Kings 2:30). His death sentence for the assassinations of Abner and Amasa are carried out (1 Kings
The anointed one’s fourth enemy also is executed for disobedience (1 Kings 2:36-46). Solomon eliminates the one who has the most influence to raise up Benjamite soldiers against Yahweh’s anointed and in favor of a possible candidate from Saul’s old royal house. Therefore Shimei’s death is significant enough for the statements: “But King Solomon shall be blessed, and the throne of David shall be established before the LORD forever… So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon” (1 Kings 2:45, 46).
After all these actions, we don’t see Yahweh’s reproof but rather approval: “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you’” (1 Kings 3:5). If these actions had not received Yahweh’s approval, we would expect a prophetic message like the one given to Eli’s house or like Nathan’s message to David after his sin with Bathsheba. Instead we find Yahweh’s approval of His anointed one who through violence eliminated those who harbored an attitude of rebellion against him.
And that should call us to attention regarding our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Anointed One above all. He does not tolerate rebellion, either. This is how the Bible describes the second coming of Jesus Christ: “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on
those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord
Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). The establishment of His reign will be more solid, more effective and with eternal consequences. Therefore, we must pay attention to the warning given in Psalm 2: “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him" (Psalm 2:11-12).