Confused yet? So many names. Don’t worry. It’s the nature of political scheming. Just imagine the manipulations in TV shows like The West Wing or Game of Thrones. It happens right here in the Bible, too.
Succession from one ruler to the next is usually messy business (as we’ll see later in Kings). Here in the United States four years ago, we witnessed the transfer of power from one political party to the other and nobody died. Such a situation is relatively new in the history of humans. The prospect of power more often than not draws blood.
The curtain opens in Kings and we see David, the warrior-king who killed Goliath and inspired a band of mighty men, at the end of his life, weak and frail. He’s a mere whisper of his former self.
And all the kingdom wonders: Who is the next king?
(By the way, all of us readers have been wondering since 2 Samuel 7: Who is the next king?)
In one corner we have Adonijah. He’s the oldest surviving son of David. By the cultural norms of the day, the throne will be his. But he gets a little excited by the prospect and jumps the gun. He begins to rally support.He’s doing all of this behind the back of David.
In the other corner we have Solomon, a later son by a later wife of David. (You may remember Bathsheba from David’s most famous indiscretion.) Supporting Solomon are the prophet Nathan and priest Zadok.
What’s interesting here is while Adonijah plots, Solomon seems to play a passive role in the drama. It’s Nathan the prophet and Solomon’s mother that come to David to make Solomon the legitimate king of Israel.
Cultural norms favored Adonijah. But God choose differently. Why? The story doesn’t tell us, and so leaves us to speculate, but it’s not the first or last time in the Bible that God upends social convention.
Question: Are you like Adonijah, trying to take what you want in your own strength, or are you like Solomon, patiently waiting as God acts on your behalf?