Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 12, 1 Kng 1-2

Today's readings are 1 Kgs 1-2.

1 Kings begins with one king, David, reigning over a united but tension-filled Israel. We’ll see Solomon made king, who like his father, will make some mistakes and will stumble, but on a far greater scale. Ultimately, Solomon’s missteps will create a legacy of a deeply divided and largely apostate Israel. 1 Kings starts with one kingdom and ends with two.

In 1 Kgs 1:1-4 David is near death and Solomon is about to assume the throne. David is unable to get warm and a beautiful young girl, Abishag, is assigned to lay with him in a platonic relationship (1 Kgs 1:4). This would give her the status of a concubine but, probably due to David’s declining health, allow her to remain a virgin. For all intents and purposes, she will be his nurse. These four verses establish that David is failing physically demonstrating the need for naming a successor. However, as we will soon see, David’s mind remains sharp.

All does not go smoothly as David’s oldest son, Adonijah, attempts to wrestle control of the kingdom while David is still alive (1 Kgs 1:5-10). Adonijah’s mother was Haggith, from Hebron. Bathsheba (Solomon’s mother) and Nathan intervene, and Solomon gains the throne (1 Kgs 11-36). Nathan, Zadok, Benaiah, Shimei, Rei and the mighty men align themselves with David and Solomon.

As Solomon is crowned king by David’s decree, Adonijah, who is celebrating his self-proclaimed kingship, hears what's going on in the city. How? 

En-rogel, where Adonijah is, is a spring just beyond the southern edge of the City of David which lies at the base of what will become the temple mount. Gihon, where Solomon is, is the spring that feeds water to the City of David and Jerusalem. It is situated near the northern tip of the city.  

Here's a picture of the Kidron Valley, where everything took place. En-rogel would be in the middle of the picture right about where the mass of buildings begins to thin out. The place where Solomon was crowned king would be to the right. While Solomon is being crowned, Adonijah is about a half-mile away.

Adonijah and his coronation party would easily have heard a much larger celebration.

David confers with his son, asking him to finish some business David was duty-bound to accomplish. Two of a king’s obligations were to exact vengeance (2 Kgs 1:32-33, speaking of Joab) and punish broken agreements (2 Kgs 1:41-46, speaking of Shimei). These actions should not be misconstrued. David is taking care of matters he, as king, is expected to attend to and, at the same time, ensuring Solomon a clean start. Justice is meted out to Joab, discipline to Shimei and compassion to Barzillai (1 Kgs 2:7). Note, each of these attributes reflects the nature and Kingship of God.

David dies (1 Kgs 10-11), but not before charging Solomon to adhere to the Mosaic covenant (1 Kgs 2:1-4). David’s caution is perceptive, perhaps even prophetic. Solomon will be a great king but, due to his weakness for power and women, his reign will always be eclipsed by David’s.

Adonijah boldly asks for Abishag, David’s concubine, for his wife (1 Kgs 2:13-18), a request that Solomon interprets as a play for the throne (1 Kgs 2:22). This may be true. Abishag was David’s last concubine, and tradition stated that whoever owns the harem of the king controls the kingdom.

Solomon has Joab, Adonijah, and Shimei executed. Abiathar, who turned on David (1 Kgs 1:7) is sent into exile.

David is dead, Solomon is king, and the kingdom is about to experience an explosion of wealth and military might. Yet, the discerning reader will detect an uneasiness to the affairs of Solomon and Israel. We’re about to see that wealth and wisdom, while they are admirable, are not the answer to a happy life. 

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