+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Opening – (Northumbria Community)
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.
Reading: 1 Kings 1-4 (NLT)
David in His Old Age
1 Kings 1 (NLT)
King David was now very old, and no matter how many blankets covered him, he could not keep warm. So his advisers told him, “Let us find a young virgin to wait on you and look after you, my lord. She will lie in your arms and keep you warm.”
So they searched throughout the land of Israel for a beautiful girl, and they found Abishag from Shunem and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful, and she looked after the king and took care of him. But the king had no sexual relations with her.
Adonijah Claims the Throne
About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome.
Adonijah took Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest into his confidence, and they agreed to help him become king. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s personal bodyguard refused to support Adonijah.
Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth near the spring of En-rogel, where he sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves. He invited all his brothers—the other sons of King David—and all the royal officials of Judah. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguard or his brother Solomon.
Then Nathan went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and asked her, “Haven’t you heard that Haggith’s son, Adonijah, has made himself king, and our lord David doesn’t even know about it? If you want to save your own life and the life of your son Solomon, follow my advice. Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you make a vow and say to me, “Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ And while you are still talking with him, I will come and confirm everything you have said.”
So Bathsheba went into the king’s bedroom. (He was very old now, and Abishag was taking care of him.) Bathsheba bowed down before the king.
“What can I do for you?” he asked her.
She replied, “My lord, you made a vow before the Lord your God when you said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne.’ But instead, Adonijah has made himself king, and my lord the king does not even know about it. He has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited Abiathar the priest and Joab, the commander of the army. But he did not invite your servant Solomon. And now, my lord the king, all Israel is waiting for you to announce who will become king after you. If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals as soon as my lord the king has died.”
While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. The king’s officials told him, “Nathan the prophet is here to see you.”
Nathan went in and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. Nathan asked, “My lord the king, have you decided that Adonijah will be the next king and that he will sit on your throne? Today he has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. They are feasting and drinking with him and shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But he did not invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or your servant Solomon. Has my lord the king really done this without letting any of his officials know who should be the next king?”
David Makes Solomon King
King David responded, “Call Bathsheba!” So she came back in and stood before the king. And the king repeated his vow: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has rescued me from every danger, your son Solomon will be the next king and will sit on my throne this very day, just as I vowed to you before the Lord, the God of Israel.”
Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground before the king and exclaimed, “May my lord King David live forever!”
Then King David ordered, “Call Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came into the king’s presence, the king said to them, “Take Solomon and my officials down to Gihon Spring. Solomon is to ride on my own mule. There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet are to anoint him king over Israel. Blow the ram’s horn and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then escort him back here, and he will sit on my throne. He will succeed me as king, for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.”
“Amen!” Benaiah son of Jehoiada replied. “May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, decree that it happen. And may the Lord be with Solomon as he has been with you, my lord the king, and may he make Solomon’s reign even greater than yours!”
So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the king’s bodyguard took Solomon down to Gihon Spring, with Solomon riding on King David’s own mule. There Zadok the priest took the flask of olive oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon with the oil. Then they sounded the ram’s horn and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people followed Solomon into Jerusalem, playing flutes and shouting for joy. The celebration was so joyous and noisy that the earth shook with the sound.
Adonijah and his guests heard the celebrating and shouting just as they were finishing their banquet. When Joab heard the sound of the ram’s horn, he asked, “What’s going on? Why is the city in such an uproar?”
And while he was still speaking, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest arrived. “Come in,” Adonijah said to him, “for you are a good man. You must have good news.”
“Not at all!” Jonathan replied. “Our lord King David has just declared Solomon king! The king sent him down to Gihon Spring with Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, protected by the king’s bodyguard. They had him ride on the king’s own mule, and Zadok and Nathan have anointed him at Gihon Spring as the new king. They have just returned, and the whole city is celebrating and rejoicing. That’s what all the noise is about. What’s more, Solomon is now sitting on the royal throne as king. And all the royal officials have gone to King David and congratulated him, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s fame even greater than your own, and may Solomon’s reign be even greater than yours!’ Then the king bowed his head in worship as he lay in his bed, and he said, ‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who today has chosen a successor to sit on my throne while I am still alive to see it.’”
Then all of Adonijah’s guests jumped up in panic from the banquet table and quickly scattered. Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he rushed to the sacred tent and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. Word soon reached Solomon that Adonijah had seized the horns of the altar in fear, and that he was pleading, “Let King Solomon swear today that he will not kill me!”
Solomon replied, “If he proves himself to be loyal, not a hair on his head will be touched. But if he makes trouble, he will die.” So King Solomon summoned Adonijah, and they brought him down from the altar. He came and bowed respectfully before King Solomon, who dismissed him, saying, “Go on home.”
David’s Final Instructions to Solomon
1 Kings 2 (NLT)
As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:
“I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
“And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace, staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood. Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.
“Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom.
“And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.”
Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.
Solomon Establishes His Rule
One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.
“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?” she asked.
He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”
“What is it?” she asked.
He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”
“All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”
So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.
“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”
“Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.
“How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”
Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.
Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.
Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.
Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”
But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”
So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.
“Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. The Lord will repay him for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”
So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.
The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”
Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.
But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.
Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”
The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.
So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.
Solomon Asks for Wisdom
1 Kings 3 (NLT)
Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city. At that time the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship, for a temple honoring the name of the Lord had not yet been built.
Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”
Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.
“Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”
Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where he sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he invited all his officials to a great banquet.
Solomon Judges Wisely
Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled. “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house.
“But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”
Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.”
Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king.
Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”
Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!”
But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!”
Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”
When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice.
Solomon’s Officials and Governors
1 Kings 4 (NLT)
King Solomon now ruled over all Israel, and these were his high officials:
- Azariah son of Zadok was the priest.
- Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha, were court secretaries.
- Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian.
- Benaiah son of Jehoiada was commander of the army.
- Zadok and Abiathar were priests.
- Azariah son of Nathan was in charge of the district governors.
- Zabud son of Nathan, a priest, was a trusted adviser to the king.
- Ahishar was manager of the palace property.
- Adoniram son of Abda was in charge of forced labor.
Solomon also had twelve district governors who were over all Israel. They were responsible for providing food for the king’s household. Each of them arranged provisions for one month of the year. These are the names of the twelve governors:
- Ben-hur, in the hill country of Ephraim.
- Ben-deker, in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-shemesh, and Elon-bethhanan.
- Ben-hesed, in Arubboth, including Socoh and all the land of Hepher.
- Ben-abinadab, in all of Naphoth-dor. (He was married to Taphath, one of Solomon’s daughters.)
- Baana son of Ahilud, in Taanach and Megiddo, all of Beth-shan near Zarethan below Jezreel, and all the territory from Beth-shan to Abel-meholah and over to Jokmeam.
- Ben-geber, in Ramoth-gilead, including the Towns of Jair (named for Jair of the tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, and in the Argob region of Bashan, including sixty large fortified towns with bronze bars on their gates.
- Ahinadab son of Iddo, in Mahanaim.
- Ahimaaz, in Naphtali. (He was married to Basemath, another of Solomon’s daughters.)
- Baana son of Hushai, in Asher and in Aloth.
- Jehoshaphat son of Paruah, in Issachar.
- Shimei son of Ela, in Benjamin.
- Geber son of Uri, in the land of Gilead, including the territories of King
- Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan.
- There was also one governor over the land of Judah.
Solomon’s Prosperity and Wisdom
The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They were very contented, with plenty to eat and drink. Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River in the north to the land of the Philistines and the border of Egypt in the south. The conquered peoples of those lands sent tribute money to Solomon and continued to serve him throughout his lifetime.
The daily food requirements for Solomon’s palace were 150 bushels of choice flour and 300 bushels of meal; also 10 oxen from the fattening pens, 20 pasture-fed cattle, 100 sheep or goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roe deer, and choice poultry.
Solomon’s dominion extended over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza. And there was peace on all his borders. During the lifetime of Solomon, all of Judah and Israel lived in peace and safety. And from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, each family had its own home and garden.
Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his chariot horses, and he had 12,000 horses.
The district governors faithfully provided food for King Solomon and his court; each made sure nothing was lacking during the month assigned to him. They also brought the necessary barley and straw for the royal horses in the stables.
God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.
“Perfect Wisdom of Our God” – Keith and Kristyn Getty
Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!