Chapter 112 — The Succession

(1 Kings chapter 1)

When King David had grown so old that he was bed-ridden and needed a nurse to take care of him,[1] his son Adonijah conspired with Joab and Abiathar the priest to claim the throne. Adonijah was the fourth oldest of David’s sons, and at least two of the three older sons—Amnon and Absolam—were dead.[2] The other son, Chileab, is not mentioned in the Bible after his birth in Hebron,[3] so perhaps he died at a young age. Adonijah was probably the oldest surviving son of the king, which gave him a rightful claim to succeed his father—except that David had already designated Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, as his heir.

Nathan the prophet was not part of the conspiracy, so he went to Bathsheba to advise her of the peril she and Solomon faced should Adonijah succeed. Nathan advised her to immediately go with him to King David to alert him to Adonijah’s plot and to confirm Solomon’s succession. When they informed the king of Adonijah’s scheme, David called for Zadok the priest and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, one of the mighty men.[4] David instructed them to take Solomon to Gihon—the site of the nearby spring that served as Jerusalem’s water supply—and have Nathan anoint him there as king.

When Adonijah and his supporters learned that Solomon had been made king, they fled, no doubt fearful of being accused of treason. But Solomon was merciful and took no action against them—at least, not immediately.

Questions to ponder or discuss: As we saw in 2 Samuel and in Part One of The Old Testament Made Simple, [5] Nathan the prophet demonstrated courage and integrity when he confronted King David over his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Urriah the Hittite. In this chapter Nathan does so again, for his actions in challenging Adonijah’s claim to the throne could easily have cost the prophet his life if Adonijah had prevailed, or even if he had learned what Nathan was doing.

How are we as Christians in this modern world called to have courage and/or integrity in our everyday lives?

What stands out as your proudest moment when you believe you displayed courage and/or integrity in a difficult situation?

Endnotes for Chapter 112

[1]. The nurse was a beautiful young virgin, Abishag the Shunammite. Although she would sometimes lay in bed with David to keep him warm, they did not have sexual relations.

[2]. Absolam murdered Amnon. See chapter 103 in Part One of The Old Testament Made Simple, “The Murder of Amnon.”

[3]. 2 Samuel 3:3

[4]. 2 Samuel 23:20-23

[5]. The story of David, Bathsheba, and Nathan the prophet is found at 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:14, and is discussed in chapter 101 of Part One of The Old Testament Made Simple.