Tag Archives: 1 Kings 1

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones (CaD 1 Ki 1) Wayfarer

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.
1 Kings 1:5 (NIV)

Over the past few years, I have been watching multiple series set in the history of England. Both The Last Kingdom (Netflix) and Vikings (Prime) are set in the period when England was divided into several kingdoms and the Vikings from Norway and Denmark were regularly raiding the island. The BBC’s Hollow Crown series (PBS) are modern productions of seven of Shakespeare’s historical plays following English monarchs Richard II through Richard III. So, I’ve quite literally been entertained by the intrigues, plots, and schemes of people trying to ascend power in the game of thrones that is English history.

What is lost on many people is that much of what is called the Old Testament is the history of another, more ancient game of thrones. It is ancient Israel’s own version of it, and it has all of the intrigues, plots, schemes, and assassinations you find in the history of any human kingdom.

Having just followed the story of Israel’s ancient monarchy from King Saul through King David in the books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, this chapter-a-day journey is going to press on into the epic saga beginning with 1 Kings. At the end of the 2 Samuel, David has barely survived a coup d’èta by his son, Prince Absalom. Absalom was seeking revenge because his half-brother Prince Amnon (the favored oldest son) raped his half-sister (and Absalom’s full sister) Princess Tamar, and King David did nothing about it.

Picking up the story in today’s chapter, David is old and bed-ridden. The number of his days is waning and everyone knows it. Prince Solomon, the first-born son of the scandalous marriage between David and Bathsheba, has become David’s favorite whom David had promised would succeed him.

Enter Prince Adonijah, likely the eldest remaining son after Absalom murdered his brothers and potential rivals during his failed rebellion. With David bed-ridden, his power diminished, Adonijah decides to attempt a bloodless coup. He gets the backing of a high-priest and a couple of David’s most powerful right-hand men, then arranges to have the high-priest anoint him king at a sacred place just outside of Jerusalem. They then begin a feast to celebrate.

Hearing of this, Bathsheba and the prophet, Nathan go to King David to explain what has happened. David gives orders for another priest and those loyal to him to quickly anoint Solomon and place Solomon on David’s throne as David’s chosen successor. The crowds inside Jerusalem gather and hail their new king, Solomon.

Outside the city, the self-crowned Adonijah and his followers are wrapping up their coronation party when news arrives that King David has placed Solomon on his throne. Adonijah and his followers scatter in fear that King Solomon will exact quick revenge and have them all killed. Prince Adonijah himself flees to the temple where he takes hold of the altar, hoping that King Solomon will not kill him in such a holy place. Solomon in his first recorded act as King, promises not to kill his brother as long as Adonijah remains loyal, and sends him home.

In the quiet this morning, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that almost every human system (families, committees, churches, councils, school administrations, community groups, businesses, and etc.) is a “game of thrones.” Wherever leaders have power and/or authority over others, members within that system will challenge it, criticize it, undermine it, usurp it, and rebel against it. It’s why the founding fathers of the United States divided governing power so widely. They knew from history that the game of thrones is inherently human. By spreading out the power across three different branches and two legislative houses, they sought to ensure that power was not concentrated on a single throne, but many for which there were checks and balances to make necessary corrections and hold individuals accountable for any misuse of power.

So where do I stand in the various human systems in which I operate? How well do I do with the authority and power I have in family, business, church, and community? How well do I submit to those who are in authority over me in those same systems? Where do my loyalties lie? What does it mean to live, speak, think, act, and relate in those systems as a disciple of Jesus? Are the fruits of God’s Spirit evident in the way I conduct myself in each system?

If Jesus is my Lord, as I profess Him to be, then I acknowledge Him as the one sitting on the throne of my heart and life. How well do I submit to His authority in every area of my own life?

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The featured image image on today’s post was created with Wonder A.I.

Will and Want

Solomon CrownedNow 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.

Chapter-a-Day 1 Kings 1

Empty nest.  At this time Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, puffed himself up saying, "I'm the next king!" He made quite a splash, with chariots and riders and fifty men to run ahead of him. His father had spoiled him rotten as a child, never once reprimanding him. Besides that, he was very good-looking and the next in line after Absalom. 1 Kings 1:5-6 (MSG)

It's humbling to watch your children grow into adulthood. No matter how hard you try to be the perfect parent, that silly sin nature thing gets in the way for both the parent and the child. If there is one thing I have learned in raising my girls it is that mistakes will be made. Pain will be part of the process. It's a natural part of the journey for every generation.

They say that hindsight is 20-20, and there is no doubt that your shortcomings as a parent come into focus in the lives of your children as they come into adulthood and start making their own life choices. I should have spent more time teaching her that. I didn't provide enough instruction about this. How could a child grow up in my home and not pick up that principle? Lord, help us.

King David, despite being God's man, had plenty of shortcomings as a parent. The consequences were disastrous. Rape, murder and rebellion were the big consequences, but we see in today's chapter that little things like anger, bitterness, pride, scheming, gossip appear to have been commonplace in David's household.

They also say that you never stop parenting. My elders have told me that the "empty nest" is somewhat of a myth since the birds always return home. That gives me hope. I have a chance to keep growing as a parent and to keep teaching my children in word and deed.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and beeep