1 Kings 1:1 - 2:46


The book of 2nd Samuel ends with David as the King of a united Israel.  As the book of Kings begins, David is still king, but many years have passed and he is in the declining years of his life.





1                       Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm.

2                       So his servants said to him, “Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm.”

3                       So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.

4                       The girl was very beautiful; and she became the king's nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her. (1 Kings 1:1-4).


As the book opens, we are struck by David’s feebleness and apparent inability to act decisively.  This is the man who...

·        Killed Goliath with a simple sling.

·        Eluded the wrath of Saul for so many years.

·        United all of the Kingdom of Israel.

·        Conquered all of the surrounding enemies of Israel.


At this point, David is barely 70 years of age (2 Samuel 5:4-5 says that he became king at the age of 30 and ruled for 40 years).  But these years have not been kind to him.  His years in exile and his years on the battlefield have taken their toll.  And perhaps the worst of all have been the series of disasters which have involved his own family.


It had begun with his sin with Bathsheba and his vain attempt at a coverup.  The years which followed saw family tragedy.

·        The rape of Tamar by her half-brother.

·        The murder of Amnon at the hands of Absalom.

·        The rebellion of Absalom.


There is a lesson here.  It is that sin, while it can be forgiven, still carries its negative consequences.


“Shunammite” is the same as “Shulammite” in Song of Solomon 6:13.   Hebrew allows for the two liquids to be interchanged.  Shunem was a town to the southwest of the Sea of Galilee at the foot of Little Hermon.

As a result, David was now a broken man.  He seems to have been well past his prime, both physically as well as mentally.  He has deteriorated to the point of no longer being able to keep warm in the chilly Jerusalem nights.  To this end, his attendants obtain the services of a Shunammite girl who will be able to keep the old king warm.





5                       Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.”  So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him.

6                       His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, “Why have you done so?”  And he was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom.

7                       He had conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest; and following Adonijah they helped him. (1 Kings 1:5-7).


Adonijah was one of the sons of David.  Verse 6 specifies that he had been born after Absalom and, by saying this, compares his actions to those of Absalom who attempted to overthrow David.


Adonijah was aided in his quest for the throne by several of David’s longtime associates.


1.         Joab was the nephew of David (Zeruiah was David’s sister) and had served for many years as the commander of David’s army.


2.         Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech, the high priest of Nod who had been put to death by Saul when David was a fugitive.


These two leaders in the nation now throw their support behind Adonijah who is seeking to make certain that he will be the successor to the throne.





There were certain men who had been specifically excluded from the plans of Adonijah.


a.         Zadok the priest:   In 1 Chronicles 12:26-28 he is listed as a warrior of the house of Levi.  He had served jointly with Abiathar as chief priest under David’s rule.


b.         Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was the head of the 30 most valiant of David’s men.


c.         Nathan the prophet.


d.         The mighty men who belonged to David.


Nathan is the man of the hour.  He comes to Bathsheba with the situation and they plan how they are going to make David aware of the problem.


Nathan was a good friend.  He had called David to repentance when he sinned with Bathsheba.  And now he comes to David’s aid with Bathsheba to warn of impending danger.  But he does so in a way designed to catch his attention.  He was good at that - remember the time when he had captured David’s attention with a story.


Nathan sends Bathsheba to the King to warn him.  Then he comes in himself to back up her story.





David orders immediate action to be taken in confirming Solomon as king.  Solomon is to be given the mule of the King to ride and brought down to the Gihon, the main spring supplying water to the city of Jerusalem.


33                     The king said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon.

34                     “Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’

35                     “Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne and be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.” (1 Kings 1:33-35).


The Gihon Spring had been instrumental in the original conquest of Jerusalem at the

Many years later, Hezekiah would have a 1700 yard tunnel dug through the mountain in order to bring the spring waters within the city walls (2 Chronicles 32:30).

beginning of David’s reign.  2 Samuel 5:8 indicates that the city was taken “through the water tunnel.”  Archaeologists have discovered that there is a steep tunnel cut through Mount Ophel, the site of the original city.  This tunnel allowed the inhabitants of the city to travel under the city walls to get water from a natural spring which flowed on the lower slopes of the mountain.  Now David orders that Solomon is to be taken to this same spring to be anointed and proclaimed master of the city and king of the nation.


38                     So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon.

39                     Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!”

40                     All the people went up after him, and the people were playing on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise. (1 Kings 1:38-40).


The instructions of David are carried out.  Solomon is brought on David’s mule to the Gihon spring, much the same way that a later Son of David will be brought to Jerusalem riding upon a donkey and receiving the same accolades.  Indeed, it will be very close to this same location where Jesus shall make His own triumphal entry into the city.  This was Solomon’s triumphal entry.  And lest there be any doubt as to David’s intentions, he also bowed himself in the presence of his son.


47                     “Moreover, the king's servants came to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon better than your name and his throne greater than your throne!' And the king bowed himself on the bed.

48                     “The king has also said thus, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has granted one to sit on my throne today while my own eyes see it.’” (1 Kings 1:47-48).


David viewed Solomon’s ascension to the throne of Israel as a fulfillment of the covenant promise which God had made concerning the continuation of a descendant of David upon the throne of Israel.


In 2 Samuel 7, God had promised that the throne of David would be established forever.  This promise has been ultimately fulfilled in the person of Jesus.





Horns were a sign of strength and potency.  To hold onto the horns of the altar was to appeal to the Lord.

Adonijah’s supporters are quick to distance themselves from him and scatter to the four winds.   Adonijah himself seeks refuge at the horns of the sacrificial altar which stood before the Tent of Meeting.  His safety is guaranteed by Solomon as long as he acts in an appropriate manner.


Evidently, Adonijah expected to be put to death as a rival claimant to the throne - an action that he himself would have taken against Solomon had he been successful.  Such actions were not unknown in the ancient world.





1                       As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying,  2 “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.

3                       “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, "If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Kings 2:1-4).


In his exposition of 1st Kings, Ralph Davis points out that the first two chapters of 1 Kings form a couplet.[1]  They are given to us in something of a parallel.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Nathan approaches the king through Bathsheba

Adonijah approaches the king through Bathsheba

David swears an oath in response to Bathsheba (1:29-30)

Solomon swears an oath in response to Bathsheba (2:23)

Focus is upon the succession of the kingdom

Focus is upon the security of the kingdom


David’s charge to Solomon is given in two parts.  The first part has to do with Solomon's spiritual life (2:2-4)  The second part gives specific instructions concerning unfinished business that David had with certain members of his court (2:5-9).


1.         A Charge to Spiritual Living (2:2-4).


David’s charge to Solomon echoes with the same themes as the charge which the Lord gave to Joshua following the death of Moses.


Joshua 1:2-9

1 Kings 2:2-4

Be strong and courageous (repeated three times)

Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.

Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left... This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth

Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses

Then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

So that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me


Verse 4 presents us with the conditional nature of the Davidic Covenant.  The continuation of that covenant was dependent upon the continuing obedience of David’s descendants.


2.         A Charge to Unfinished Business (2:5-9).


There were certain unresolved issues which David was going to pass on to Solomon.  Notice that in one case he gives his son specific direction concerning these issues and in other cases he leaves it up to his son’s “wisdom.”


JOAB:   Shed blood in a time of peace

- Act wisely

- Do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace (2:6)


SHIMEI:   Cursed David as he fled from Absalom

- You are wise

- You will bring his gray hair down to Sheol with blood (2:9)




SONS OF BARZILLAI:   Show kindness - Barzallai had assisted David when he fled from Absalom



The rest of this chapter will relate Solomon’s wisdom in dealing with these issues.


a.         Joab.


He is not condemned for having sided with Adonijah.  He IS condemned for having murdered Abner and Amasa.


(1)        Abner had been the cousin to Saul.

He had also served as the general of Saul’s army.  Abner had been to Saul what Joab was to David.  But when it looked as though Abner was going to make peace with David, Joab murdered him, stabbing him in the belly as he was supposedly delivering a message to him (2 Samuel 3:27).


(2)        Amasa was a nephew to David.

When Absalom rebelled, he appointed Amasa to be the general of his army.  When Joab killed Absalom against David’s explicit instructions, David pardoned Amasa and placed him in Joab’s place as the new head of the army.  Later Joab murdered Amasa as he was pretending to greet him with a kiss (2 Samuel 20:9-10).


Neither case involved killing someone in battle.  In both cases, the assault was a surprise attack, delivered under the guise of peace.


b.         The Sons of Barzillai.


Barzillai was one of the nobles from Gilead on the east bank of the Jordan who had helped to support David and his followers who were fleeing from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:27-29).

Following the Absalom rebellion, David had invited Barzallai to come and live in Jerusalem but he had declined because of his advanced age.


c.         Shimei.


He was one of Saul’s relatives.  When David and his company were fleeing from Absalom, they had happened to pass by Shimei and he had taken the opportunity to hurl both insults and stones at the king.  David’s men had offered to silence Shimei permanently, but David had refused.


When David was victorious, Shimei had come to David with a band of 1000 Benjamites and had sued for peace.  Although David’s men wanted vengeance, again David refused.


There is a principle in David’s instructions to Solomon.  Forgiveness does not demand foolishness.  The two problem people that David had mentioned would be potential problems to Solomon’s reign and he was to be aware of the problems they could cause and be on guard.





Although he was now king, Solomon did not move against Adonijah.  Perhaps Adonijah saw this inaction as a form of weakness and was emboldened to make a move against his regal half-brother.  This was done in a deceptive manner.


Adonijah went to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, and sought her intercession to obtain as his wife the former nurse of David.


            Then he said, “Please speak to Solomon the king, for he will not refuse you, that he may give me Abishag the Shunammite as a wife.” (1 Kings 2:17).


On the surface of things, this seems to be a harmless request.  Perhaps Bathsheba thought this to be the case, for she agreed to make the request on Adonijah’s behalf.  Evidently she did not know what it signified.


In ancient times, the king’s harem would pass to the king’s successor.  Take a man’s kingdom and you would also take his wives.  When David had taken Saul’s kingdom, he also took the wives of Saul into his keeping (2 Samuel 12:8).  When Absalom drove David out of Jerusalem, he made it a point to go among the concubines of David in the sight of all Israel (2 Samuel 16:20-22).

Now Adonijah is requesting one of the members of the harem of David.  Perhaps he is using the excuse, “She did not actually enter into sexual relations with him, she merely was there to keep him warm.”  But the implications would be present nonetheless.  And Solomon sees through the request and even recognizes the conspirators involved.


22                     King Solomon answered and said to his mother, “And why are you asking Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him also the kingdom ‑‑ for he is my older brother ‑‑ even for him, for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah!”

23                     Then King Solomon swore by the Lord, saying, “May God do so to me and more also, if Adonijah has not spoken this word against his own life.” (2 Kings 2:22-23).


Accordingly, both Adonijah and Joab are put to death.  Abiathar is banished from the priesthood and permitted to return to his own home in fulfillment of the prophecy originally made to Eli (Abiathar was the great, great grandson of Eli through Phinehas).



SHIMEI’S END (1 KINGS 2:36-46)


Shimei is placed on probation for his treasonous actions against King David and is mandated to live the rest of his life in Jerusalem.  By forbidding Shimei to cross the Jordan, Solomon kept him from fraternizing with his fellow Benjamites, the tribe from which Saul had come and the one tribe of all Israel that was inclined to be rebellious toward the Davidic Line.


For three years Shimei obeys the terms of his probation.  But when two of his slaves run away, he journeys to Gath to find them.  When news of this infraction reaches Solomon, he calls Shimei to an accounting for his deeds.


As long as Shimei had accepted the gracious pardon of Solomon and remained in the city, he had been allowed to live.  But once he broke the terms of the covenant by departing from the city, then the entire weight of the law came crashing down upon him.


Perhaps there is a lesson here for us.  You see, we are a lot like Shimei.  We have sinned and are under a curse.  But there is a place of safety.  It is in Christ.  As long as we will remain in Him, we will find blessing.  But there is a warning.  Don’t leave the city!  Don’t depart from the place of safety.  Remain in Christ.


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[1]Davis, Dale Ralph: The Widsom and the Folly: An Exposition of the Book of First Kings; Christian Focus Publications, Fearn, Great Britain, 2002, Pages 25-26.