The road may not have been quite as windy or harrowing as David’s path to the throne, but it’s not easy either.
I’m not totally sure what these guys are thinking right here in the beginning. I mean, you’re cold so let’s go get you a girl? I almost got upset about it but the opening paragraph about getting the girl, Abishag, ends with “the king knew her not.”
That’s followed up with one of David’s son deciding that he was going to be the next king all on his own, but he snubs some important people when he celebrates his ascension. He also doesn’t wait for his father to actually pass on before taking the throne. He is the eldest son, but David is still alive and has the right to name his successor. He’s already told Nathan that Solomon was supposed to take the throne.
Even though I’d like to give Adonijah, the son who took the throne, the benefit of the doubt, it’s kinda hard to. His not invited Solomon and Nathan and any of the other religious advisers or letting his father benefit from the feasts kinda makes it obvious that he knew what he was doing was wrong but he thought no one would stand up to him.
He reaffirms that Solomon was to be the king and tells them how to go about having Solomon annointed. Then they party so hard it causes an earthquake. Yeah, not making this up. Adonijah is curious about what happens and sends someone to find out. When they explain it to him at his feast, his guests squirm away and he “took hold of the horns of the altar”. The study portion of my Bible says this is a common practice among Near Eastern cultures and is a sign of seeking Gods protection.
He is pardoned of this crime, but only because he didn’t try to continue and he was contrite when he showed up.
David gives Solomon some advice on how to rule just before he passes, but he does pass on here. Then there’s an exchange between Bathsheba and Adonijah where she promises to ask the new king for something on his behalf. Rather than give it though, the king decides that asking is pushing things too far for Adoijah and has him killed after all. He also puts Joab to death finally. Shimei was also eventually put to death after breaking an oath to stay on house arrest.
The new king, Solomon, promptly makes a marriage alliance with Egypt. Then God visits him in a dream and basically tells him to ask for anything. Solomon’s response was to ask for wisdom. His exact words were quite beautiful, actually:
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?
I feel a little like Solomon already had plenty, but more can always be useful and he appears to know that. Of course, this is one of those things that could hardly be refused. It also appears to have warmed God’s heart:
Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”
His new level of wisdom is used in making an interesting decision between two unnamed women who bring a dispute to him about their children.
This chapter opens with a listing of Solomon’s high officials and officers over Israel, along with which have married Solomon’s daughters Taphath and Basemath. It goes on to speak of his wealth, his wisdom, and the way that he grew Israel and Judah.
I find it interesting that Israel and Judah keep being referred to separately as if they are two separate nations but there is no mention of an actual separation. I looked it up, just to be sure that I didn’t somehow miss it back in Samuel when it first started popping up. It hasn’t happened yet. The book must have been written afterward and the writer is speaking with hindsight.