10–16 July 2016.
In the ancient world, people believed a king’s power to rule was linked to his sexual abilities. That’s one reason kings and rulers had so many wives. So 1 Kings opens with a serious problem: David is now so old and weak, even his sexual abilities are gone. His advisors do everything they can to help, even bringing a new, beautiful girl to sleep with him. But it’s hopeless. Nothing works.
David’s son Adonijah takes this as his signal to proclaim himself the new king. And as the eldest son, he has good reason to expect to be king. But things don’t work out as he plans. Because behind the scenes Nathan and Bathsheba are plotting to make David’s younger son Solomon king instead. They go to David and trick him into thinking he had promised to make Solomon king. So while Adonijah is away, David hands the throne to his younger brother Solomon.
Remember when Saul and David became kings? Remember how God helped choose them? But here God is nowhere to be found. Instead Solomon becomes king through trickery. But this isn’t anything unusual. All through Jewish history, right back to the story of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 27), we’ve seen this same theme: how the younger, weaker brother gains power over the older, stronger brother.
Even though this is such a common theme among the Israelites – and even though the history of royal families all over the world is full of this type of scheming! – somehow it still feels wrong. We feel sorry for Adonijah and David, just like we felt sorry for Esau and Isaac who had also been tricked in the same way. In the next chapter, Solomon kills his older brother Adonijah and invites his mother to rule with him. Is this really the dirty way that the next generation of Israel’s kings is going to start?
It seems so shocking. But amazingly God still finds a way to work through all this. When we see all the trickery and scheming that goes on around us today, it’s easy to lose hope. But God still finds a path for us, a way to still move our lives in the right direction. And before the end of this story, God will act in Solomon’s life and make him one of the most famous kings of Israel.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis