No leader is immortal. Even the greatest can serve only for a limited time. Eventually he or she must step aside (or be removed by death or other forces). That time of change can be difficult and dangerous. At the beginning of 1 Kings Israel is approaching a time of transition as David nears the end of his life: what will become of the kingdom? We must also bear in mind that the Lord appoints the king and Israel is a picture of the Kingdom of God, so that the king foreshadows the Messiah, who reigns over God’s eternal kingdom. We begin by considering 1 Kings 1:1-53 Long live King Solomon.
1. The rebellion planned
The kingdom is in danger since David is ‘old and well advanced in years’ (v1). He seems to have reached a point of allowing things to happen rather than taking decisive action. Such apparent weakness provides an opportunity for Adonijah (v5) to foment rebellion. He seems totally unqualified, making no mention of the Lord and giving no evidence of personal godliness. David has not exercised control (v6) and the rebellion gathers supporters (v7ff). Here is a reminder that God’s king and kingdom are always under attack – see Psalm 2 – with the ultimate fulfilment in the Messiah (see Acts 4:24-30).
2. The succession secured
The Lord always has faithful kingdom servants to fulfil his purposes, such as Nathan (v11) who sees the danger and implements a plan of action. He also includes Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, who received a promise that Solomon would be king (v17). They understood that trust in God’s sovereignty did not rule out action guided by faith. God used the action of such faithful servants to preserve the kingdom. Being ‘shrewd as snakes’ (Matthew 10:16), we must work diligently for the King as he gives opportunity.
3. The king proclaimed
The news from Nathan and Bathsheba transforms David. The ‘old David’ is needed and returns. He is powerfully motivated when he understands the danger in which the kingdom stands. He has a profound awareness of the Lord: ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble’ (v29). He does all that is required for Solomon’s coronation as co-regent (v32-40). His action is necessary for the fulfilment of the sovereign plan of God. Like David, we should be stirred by a deep concern for the welfare of God’s kingdom as we serve King Jesus.
4. The kingdom preserved
Adonijah’s rebellion disintegrates in the face of the king’s action and Solomon’s anointing. Though David’s action was crucial, he knows that it is by God’s hand that this has happened – ‘Praise be to the Lord’ (v48). Ultimately the rebellion of the nations is frustrated by the appointed Messiah – ‘I have installed my king on Zion’ (Psalm 2:6). The Lord will not allow his kingdom to perish and so we can rejoice in faith.