Bible Readings for September 29th
As we come to the end of David’s life, the stories we read not only prepare us for the transferring of the kingdom to David’s son Solomon, but they also give us deeper insight into David’s limitations as king. In today’s reading from 1 Kings 1, we see two specific failures of David as king, first in the reactionary timing with which Solomon is anointed king and second in contrasting Solomon’s first act as king with David’s history of passive leadership.
First, even though David is not yet dead, it becomes urgent to transfer the kingdom to David’s son Solomon officially when Adonijah, another son of David, claims the throne for himself. Wisely, Nathan and Bathsheba work together both to inform David of what Adonijah has done and to persuade David to anoint Solomon as king immediately. There seems to be a suggestion that David might simply go along with Adonijah’s claim to the throne, so Nathan warns Bathsheba, “Now therefore come, let me give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon” (1 Kgs. 1:12). David was certainly a man after God’s own heart, but there is no question that one of David’s greatest failures was his tendency toward passivity when dealing with rebellious people in his midst.
Second, when Solomon takes the throne and Adonijah refuses to leave the horns of the altar in the courtyard of the tabernacle until Solomon promises not to harm him, Solomon’s response drips with royal wisdom: “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die” (1 Kgs. 1:52). In similar situations, David also was often willing to extend mercy, but David, unlike Solomon, had trouble laying down firm boundaries. For example, David accepted his son Absalom back into Jerusalem after banishing him for murdering Amnon (2 Sam. 14:33), but the utter lack of discipline for Absalom created the opportunity for Absalom to attempt to steal the throne from his father altogether (2 Sam. 15). Solomon, on the other hand, both forgives Adonijah and warns him sternly not to transgress further—and, as we will see in tomorrow’s reading from 1 Kings 2, Solomon means what he says.
It is striking that David—the greatest king in Israel’s history—should have such glaring flaws. All of this reminds us that David was not the ultimate Messiah, even if he was one of the clearest shadows of the ultimate Messiah to come. All of these figures fall short of redeeming God’s people permanently, and together, these stories form the backdrop against which Jesus shines in his glory most radiantly, since where they failed, Jesus succeeded. Let us rejoice in the glory of Jesus and put our hope exclusively in him.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.