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.