Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 17 2019 - 1 Kings 2:13-46 – A kingdom established through bloodshed

Let me go over the history that led to Solomon succeeding his father David as king. Absolom, David's third son, had killed Amnon, David's firstborn, in vengeance for Amnon raping Absolom's sister Tamar. David's second son, Kileab, son of Abigail, seems to have died as a young man since we hear nothing more about him. David's eldest surviving son was Adonijah, son of Haggith.

We skipped over 1 Kings Chapter 1 in our schedule of readings. In that chapter we read that when David was very old and could not keep himself warm, a young woman named Abishag was given the job of lying next to David in bed as a kind of human hot water bottle, but, we are told, "the king had no sexual relations with her" (1 Kings 1:4).

Meanwhile, seeing that David will soon die, his eldest son Adonijah sought to have himself proclaimed king – it's the story of Absalom all over again. The plot was told to David who promptly declared that Solomon, son of Bathsheba, was the one whom God had called Jedidiah, loved of the Lord. The Lord had determined that Solomon would succeed David as king. Adonijah was filled with fear and ran into the tabernacle and took hold of the horns of the altar. Solomon sent a message to him that he would not be put to death for this rebellion: "If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die" (1 Kings 1:52).

David has died and Solomon is now king. But Adonijah feels that he has been robbed of his rightful position and is intent on gaining status for himself. He dare not confront Solomon so he goes to talk to the king's mother, to Bathsheba. He asks for Abishag to be given to him as his wife. When Bathsheba presents this "small request" to her son, Solomon does not see it as a small matter at all; he sees it as a plot to seize the kingdom from him. Solomon gives the order that Adoniah immediately be put to death. Abiathar the priest who had colluded with Adonijah's plans to be king was dismissed from his post, "fulfilling the word the Lord had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli" (v.27). Zadok was appointed as chief priest in Israel instead of Abiathar.

Solomon, the king whose name means "peace", then set about executing the deadly will of his father. Joab had conspired over the kinship with Adonijah, and like him flees to take hold of the horns of the altar. Refusing to leave the tabernacle, Joab was struck down there and died.

Shimei, who had cursed David when he fled from Absalom, was placed under house arrest in Jerusalem. When he left the city to pursue some of his run-away slaves, Solomon had him also put to death.

This is how the kingdom was "established in Solomon's hands" (1 Kings 2:46).

The kingdom of David's greater son is also established through the shedding of blood. But this is the blood of the Saviour himself who has conquered all opposition by his death and who gives life to all who come to him. He is the Prince of Peace, the one who reigns over a kingdom characterised by righteousness, joy and peace. The Lion of the tribe of Judah is also the Lamb who was slain – the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Lord, I am troubled by this history of the men whom you raised up to lead your people. I do not find them attractive characters. Thank you that I can turn from them to look at the Lord Jesus in whom I see your character truly reflected in all the beauty of your grace. Thank you that through him I have been reconciled with you the living God and know the peace that passes human understanding. Help me to be a peacemaker.

Peter Misselbrook