Day 79—Death and Drama—“Final Words”—1 Kings 1:1 – 4:34
March 20, 2021, 7:35 AM

Day 79—Death and Drama—“Final Words”—1 Kings 1:1 – 4:34

1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings were once part of a whole book called 1-4 Kingdoms. This is not really important information for us to know, but it helps me to think of the books of Samuel and Kings as being closely tied together. We often finish books of the bible and know that there is a distinct end, and that we begin something completely new with the next book, but that is not the case with Kings. We are reading the continued story of King David’s house and legacy.

So as David is dying, we hear that one of his sons, Adonijah (my Lord is Yahweh), David’s eldest living son after the death of Absalom, is not only actively campaigning to be king, but he declares himself king. We are supposed to be reminded of his elder brother Absalom when we hear about his handsomeness and when we sense his pride, which is not a positive association. But Adonijah is the eldest son, and typically the kingship should pass to that son. So we know something is out of order already in David’s family.

Amazingly, it is Bathsheba who speaks to David to tell him what is happening in his kingdom as he lays dying. Where were David’s advisors, I wonder? But of course, she does so at the urging of Nathan, the prophet, who has a direct connection to the will of God.. Interestingly, there is no record of David promising this in any of the material we have already read. So when Bathsheba tells David that swore to her that her son, Solomon, would be king, we can find no prior record of that promise. David seems to remember himself and his responsibilities, and he calls for the priests to anoint Solomon, but notice that, unlike both Saul and David, the spirit of the LORD does not come upon Solomon at that time. Solomon seems almost passive though this portion.

Adonijah is allowed to live, however, until he asks Bathsheba to intercede for him to acquire Abishag the Shunamite (well, that’s just fun to say—say it a few times to hear the sound! Abishag means “my father strays.” A Shunamite comes from the region of Shunam.) Abishag is the young woman who has been brought to comfort David in his old age (ick factor alert, but I think we can understand where this custom comes from. The king is being attended to in his old age, and the beauty of the young woman is supposed to remind him of glorious days past when David was a true conqueror.) Even though Abishag is a called a virgin, and David did not ‘know her biblically’ (an old chestnut I thought I would throw in there), she was considered a concubine of the king’s court. When Adonijah asks for her as a wife, he is subtly attempting to undercut Solomon’s reign by taking his father’s concubine—claiming the women of the former king is another way of saying that Adonijah is the true king, which is why Solomon responds to his mother: “Ask for him the kingdom as well!” (2:22) Solomon strikes down Adonijah after this request which he did not even make in person--coward!!!!

Then Solomon strikes down Joab (Yahweh is father). Ok, maybe I’m getting too used to the battles and deaths, but I have been wondering why Joab was able to survive in David’s court. I thought David should have done away with him long before this. I didn’t trust Joab, but clearly he was a masterful soldier and warrior. And as we read in the first chapter of 1 Kings today, Joab threw in his lot with Adonijah in the beginning of our chapter “Joab…and Abiathar…supported Adonijah.” And then remember old rock-throwing Shimei (he that hears or obeys)? Well, Shimei was given a chance by Solomon—doesn’t this remind you of a toddler—don’t take the cookie and you won’t get punished? And look at the irony of Shimei's name and his behavior! Shimei leaves his home to chase a slave in clear violation of his promise to Solomon and he is killed.

I didn’t feel as bad for these two gentlemen when they died. In fact I kind of felt like they deserved it. The New Testament can’t get here fast enough!! I’m starting to think like a king.

And THEN Solomon prays for wisdom, which is a good gift to pray for rather than fame, or wealth or success, and he is immediately tested with the two women who bring him the baby. Did you ever remember that the story was about two prostitutes? That certainly never made it into any of the children’s bibles I ever read! In any case, the baby’s father could have guaranteed legacy to one of the women, and a possible life out of prostitution and into the court of a notable household.   Let’s say the story is about motherly love, but I’m getting a little cynical after all this duplicitous behavior.

So at the end of today's readings, I wonder why it is that we expect better behavior out of any royal family?  I wonder why we are shocked at Harry and Meghan, why we think there should be a little more ‘happily ever after’ in the storybook? Over and over again we will see that power, that being a ruler over people (even if it’s mostly ceremonial as it is with the Royal Family with whom we are so fascinated), that being held to the highest standards in public can lead to a disconnection in private behaviors. From the very beginning of time, when kings and monarchs first reigned in ancient times, the role of sovereignty can only be well-lived and properly administered by God. I’m not hiding behind faith. I’m not being a spiritual Pollyanna. But I see agian and again how power corrupts, destroys and creates chaos, but I also know that some type of leadership is necessary for societies to have legal and practical guidance, but we only have flawed humans to take the reins, or the reign, as it may be.

Perhaps this is the challenge—that leaders think of themselves as kings rather than servants, as rulers rather than healers. Perhaps that is why my heart is hungering for more stories about Jesus.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML

 

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