There are many lessons we can learn from today’s passage, 1 Kings 2:13-27. Let’s go!
1 Kings 2:17 (NIV) 17 So he continued, “Please ask King Solomon–he will not refuse you–to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”
On verses 13-18: Here Adonijah goes to Bathsheba the king’s mother with a request: he asks for Abishag the Shunammite as his wife. Why? It’s not because Adonijah was in love with Abishag, as beautiful as she was. Rather it was a political move. Remember that Abishag was effectively David’s last concubine. Abishag lived with David, took care of David, slept in the same bed as David, though she never had sexual relations with David (see 1 Kings 1:3-4). Back in David’s time, whoever controlled the king’s harem was viewed as controlling the kingdom.
That’s why back in 2 Samuel 16:22, when Absalom sets himself up as king in place of David, Absalom’s first move was to sleep with all of David’s concubines in public. It was his way showing he had control over the kingdom.
That’s also why Solomon in verse 22 responds to Adonijah’s request, saying, “You might as well request the kingdom!” It’s because the smooth-talking Adonijah was looking to wrest control of the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands by taking David’s last concubine as his wife. I could just imagine that if Adonijah had been successful at marrying Abishag, he could announce to everyone: “Do you know what Abishag told me? She said that David’s wish had always been to give the kingdom to Adonijah.” Requesting Abishag as his wife was yet another attempt by Adonijah to seize the throne.
What can we learn from this? Just as Adonijah wanted to bind Abishag to him as his wife, our enemy Satan fights so hard to capture and bind people today. It’s because we are the bride of Christ, and if Satan can get us, he’s one huge step closer to getting the kingdom. So be on guard against Satan’s underhanded tactics in your life. Praise God that we belong to Jesus and that we are safe in His hands.
(By the way, why does Bathsheba agree to bring Adonijah’s request to Solomon? See my comments below regarding verses 20-21.)
1 Kings 2:19 (NIV) 19 When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.
On verse 19: Notice how King Solomon responds when he sees his mother: he stands to meet her, bows down to her, and has a throne brought for her to sit on at his right hand. Here was the king of Israel showing honour to his mother. We too are to honour our parents (Ephesians 6:2-3). How well do you honour your parents? One measure of a person’s maturity in Christ is in how they treat their parents: not by worshiping them, not by vilifying them, but by showing them appropriate honour and respect.
1 Kings 2:20-21 (NIV) 20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “Do not refuse me.” The king replied, “Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you.” 21 So she said, “Let Abishag the Shunammite be given in marriage to your brother Adonijah.”
On verses 20-21: Here Bathsheba goes to King Solomon with Adonijah’s request to marry Abishag. Why did Bathsheba agree to do this for Adonijah? One theory is that Bathsheba was stupid or naive, but I don’t think that was the case. Remember that Bathsheba was now the queen mother. She of all people must have been especially sensitive to any potential threat to her son. I believe Bathsheba agreed to bring Adonijah’s request to Solomon because Bathsheba knew how Solomon would respond to such a request. I believe Bathsheba saw this as an opportunity for Solomon to finally deal with the threat of Adonijah. Rather than dealing with the threat herself, she wisely decided to let her son the king deal with it.
What can we learn from this? Parents, part of empowering your kids and setting them up for success is trusting them to make decisions for themselves when they are old enough. It’s about giving your kids, when they are old enough, the freedom to choose, even if it means letting them make mistakes and letting them learn from them.
1 Kings 2:23 (NIV) 23 Then King Solomon swore by the LORD: “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request!
On verses 22-25: King Solomon responds to Adonijah’s request with anger and indignation. Previously King Solomon had shown Adonijah great mercy by sparing Adonijah’s life despite his treasonous actions (1 Kings 1:53). Now, King Solomon is unable to keep allowing the possibility of further rebellion from Adonijah. He has Adonijah executed.
What can we learn from all this? Adonijah never learned his lesson. He continued his underhanded, self-promoting ways and tried repeatedly to seize the throne from Solomon. As a result, his life came to an abrupt end. Similarly, it is silly and foolish to keep rebelling against God and God’s plan, to keep insisting on grabbing the throne that belongs to another Son whom God has chosen (Jesus). True happiness comes not from grabbing for power that is not yours, but embracing the calling and identity God has for you.
1 Kings 2:27 (NIV) 27 So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the LORD, fulfilling the word the LORD had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.
On verse 26-27: Solomon also removes Abiathar, one of Adonijah’s biggest supporters, from the priesthood, thereby fulfilling a prophecy Samuel had spoken about Abiathar’s family (1 Samuel 2:30-35). What can we learn from this? God is faithful to His promises and will fulfill them in His way and His time.
Heavenly Father, may I not be like Adonijah, who took the mercy he was shown for granted, who kept trying to promote himself, who kept grasping for a throne that did not belong to him, and who never learned his lesson. Thank You that my happiness does not come from grasping for that which is not mine, but in embracing the calling and the plan You have for me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!