Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)
Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard did not join Adonijah.
1 Kings 1:5-8 (NIV)
King David is nearing death. David has many children from a handful of wives and a number of concubines. David’s hold on the throne has alway been precarious. He had to unite the divided tribes of Israel to claim Saul’s throne, yet an undercurrent of political discontent among the tribes simmers just below the surface. Just years before the events of today’s chapter, David’s own son, Absalom, had committed fratricide and attempted a coup de tat. He was nearly successful. The weaker David becomes in his old age, the more intrigue grows regarding the future of the throne and the kingdom.
Adonijah is the eldest living son. By tradition, the throne should be his. But, that adulterous woman, Bathsheba, and her son Solomon appear to be daddy’s favorites. Word has it that David has promised the throne to Solomon. It’s not fair. Solomon is only a kid. Adonijah has been waiting for years expecting he would be king. All the power and riches should be his, and he feels his chances slipping away.
So, Adonijah takes matters into his own hands and decides to strike while the iron is hot. He needs powerful men on his side. He gets two of dad’s inner circle, General Joab and the powerful priest Abiathar, to lend him their support. If he can get the military and the religious leaders on his side, this coup might work.
There was a fatal flaw in Adonijah’s plan. Joab and Abiathar were powerful men, but they were not part of the kings inner circle, and David was not dead. Adonijah pulled the trigger too soon. His father, the king, still had strength and voice to speak clearly regarding his will. Nathan the prophet, the equally powerful priest Zadok, and David’s elite military guard, held sway in the king’s chambers. Together with Bathsheba they convinced David that he must appoint his choice, Solomon, to the throne or risk another bloody coup that could rip the nation apart.
This morning I am fascinated by the complexities and political intrigue surrounding the palace and the throne room. History is filled with compelling stories of people who plotted and connived for various thrones and positions of power. I love these stories because times change and circumstances change, but the human element remains universal. I see in the story of Adonijah the shadows of people I have witnessed scheming for positions of power in business and churches. Making the right friends, relational alliances, family dynamics, and power grabs are as much a part of political, familial, corporate, and organizational systems today as they were in the palace of Jerusalem thousands of years ago.
I want to accomplish God’s purposes for me. I want to be wise in my relationships and my dealings. I want to obey Jesus’ command to be both shrewd and gentle. Yet, I hope that I never put my personal want of God’s desire and will for me.