I recently began delving into the Old Testament books in depth. Partly because I wanted to and partly because I felt moved to do so. There is such a contrast between the Old Testament and the new. Like, the OT can be really vicious. Sometimes, it seems to read less like an divinely inspired work and more like a bloody, graphic novel. I mean, chopping a baby in half with a sword? (It didn’t actually get chopped in half, so that’s nice…) What I see most is God’s justice on full display. I felt led to read through 1 Kings. I can’t exactly say why but perhaps as I will find that out as I go along.
1 Kings is a book about the nation of Israel in the days following the death of King David into the reign of his son, Solomon, then moves chronologically through the kings of both Israel and Judah (After the death of Solomon, it became a split nation, Israel, the northern kingdom and Judah, the southern kingdom.) until the fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar in 597/6 B.C. As the preface in my humungous apologetics bible states, “The author’s purpose is to compare and contrast the two kingdoms in light of God’s plan for Israel and how well they followed the Deuteronomic ideal for kings and kingdoms…it is not to present a complete history of Israel but to show how the kings led the nations to obedience to the Mosaic law or, more frequently, led them away from obedience and how God dealt with the nation and individuals as a result.” Whew. Basically, this book recounts how not all but many of David and Solomon’s successors turned to idol worship and how God was not ok with it. If that doesn’t feel timely, I don’t know what does. It begins with King David, who at this time is about die and needs to name a successor to his throne.
And so we begin…
- King David was close to death and hadn’t named a successor to his throne yet. His son, Adonijah, was arrogantly claiming himself to be the next reigning king of Israel, unbeknownst to David. There was a group that was disloyal to David and they were the ones Adonijah is conspiring this plan with (more on that ill-fated group later). Already, I can see the parallels in my own life. God has a plan and in my arrogance, I just go and do my own thing. Convicted so soon…
- Little did Adonijah know that David had actually made a promise to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, that Solomon would be the next king. In verse 17-21, Bathsheba goes to him and tells him about Adonijah and reminds him of the promise he had made to her before God. David doesn’t seem to be bothered by Adonijah. He fulfills his promise and tells Bathsheba that Solomon will indeed be king. He calls in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and a warrior named Benaiah and tells them to take Solomon to Gihon (a well in the Kidron valley) and anoint his head with oil and proclaim him king.
- After Adonijah hears this, him and his entire group freak out and run away in a panic. Verse 49 says that the guests, “got up trembling and went their seperate ways” and that “Adonijah was afraid of Solomon”. At first, I didn’t know why he would be so scared but it goes on to explain how he was afraid that Solomon was going to kill him for, I’m guessing, falsely claiming to be king. It’s doesn’t explicitly say that was the reason but I think it’s a safe assumption. Solomon hears this and says in verse 52, “If he is a man of character, then not a single hair of his will fall to the ground, but if evil is found in him, then he dies.” Geez. It ends with Adonijah going to Solomon and “paying homage” to him. It doesn’t say anything more than that. And then Solomon spares his life and says, “Go to your home.”
Sometimes, when I read chapters like this, and perhaps you might feel this way, I don’t know what to draw from it. I know there’s a lot that God is saying but it takes more brainpower to extract it. I read this chapter a few times and here’s my takeaway…
- We see God’s faithfulness in His plans and promises being fulfilled. I know we hear that a lot but when you really stop and think about it, it’s a pretty fearsome thing to realize that God’s plan is the only plan. We make plans all the time and I can just imagine God, ALMIGHTY, UNIVERSE CREATING, OMNIPOTENT GOD just looking down at us just like, “Why do you do this?” And as for myself, I know I understand that and I go and do what I want anyway. But God had a plan that Solomon would be king and already, Solomon was gracious in sparing the life of his arrogant brother. Imagine the power of kingship and how easily it could be abused. Even before Solomon prayed for wisdom, we see it being displayed in his first days as Israel’s king.
- We see Adonijah’s attempted coup and how he fears for his life when he realizes his plan is not going to happen. It’s unclear to me if he knew that Solomon would eventually be king. It seems as though he didn’t and that it was a promise (maybe, secretly) made between God, David, and Bathsheba. He was swiftly humbled though. God has a way of doing that. He can humble you immediately and in His mercy, stop you dead in your tracks so you don’t continue down a dark road. I am thankful for this. I have needed to be stopped so many times and by the grace and mercy of God, he stops me even when I don’t want Him to for my sake and His glory. How good He is to us.
- As I first mentioned, this book, as does much of the OT, has to do with God’s promises of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience, as understood in the Mosaic law. Despite David’s many shortcomings, he was “a man after God’s own heart” and God blessed him as such for his obedience to Him. God even went on to make Solomon greater than David, perhaps his biggest blessing of all. Verse 47 : “May your God make the name of Solomon more famous that your (David’s) name, and may He make his throne greater than your throne.” The last half that verse reads, “Then the king bowed in worship on his bed.” That really got me. Imagine being told that your son will be more famous, more successful and more powerful than you and you then worship God for it. I’d like to think I’d do the same thing but I probably wouldn’t. At least, not initially. For example, Solomon went on to build the first temple in Jerusalem, something David had intended to do but God chose Solomon for the task instead. David’s worship is the ultimate picture of humility. That mindset is what I see so much of in this first chapter: God’s will is above our own. God’s power above our own. It’s not about us but about God’s story and the stories he’s crafting in our lives for His purpose. Also, the surrender needed to let God craft each one how he sees fit. Can’t forget about that. 🙂
That’s all I got for now. Chapter 2 up next!