King David in His Old Age
Adonijah Claims the Throne
5-6 Now that Absalom was dead, Adonijah, the son of David and Haggith, was the oldest surviving son. He was a very handsome man. David had never reprimanded him about anything, and he was ambitious to be king. He provided for himself chariots, horses, and an escort of fifty men. 7 He talked with Joab (whose mother was Zeruiah) and with Abiathar the priest, and they agreed to support his cause. 8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s bodyguards were not on Adonijah’s side.
9 One day Adonijah offered a sacrifice of sheep, bulls, and fattened calves at Snake Rock, near the spring of Enrogel. He invited the other sons of King David and the king’s officials who were from Judah to come to this sacrificial feast, 10 but he did not invite his half brother Solomon or Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguards.
Solomon Is Made King
11 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 King David doesn’t know anything about it! 12 If you want to save your life and the life of your son Solomon, I would advise you to 13 go at once to King David and ask him, ‘Your Majesty, didn’t you solemnly promise me that my son Solomon would succeed you as king? How is it, then, that Adonijah has become king?’” 14 And Nathan added, “Then, while you are still talking with King David, I will come in and confirm your story.”
15 So Bathsheba went to see the king in his bedroom. He was very old, and Abishag, the young woman from Shunem, was taking care of him. 16 Bathsheba bowed low before the king, and he asked, “What do you want?”
17 She answered, “Your Majesty, you made me a solemn promise in the name of the Lord your God that my son Solomon would be king after you. 18 But Adonijah has already become king, and you don’t know anything about it. 19 He has offered a sacrifice of many bulls, sheep, and fattened calves, and he invited your sons, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of your army to the feast, but he did not invite your son Solomon. 20 Your Majesty, all the people of Israel are looking to you to tell them who is to succeed you as king. 21 If you don’t, as soon as you are dead, my son Solomon and I will be treated as traitors.”
22 She was still speaking, when Nathan arrived at the palace. 23 The king was told that the prophet was there, and Nathan went in and bowed low before the king. 24 Then he said, “Your Majesty, have you announced that Adonijah would succeed you as king? 25 This very day he has gone and offered a sacrifice of many bulls, sheep, and fattened calves. He invited all your sons, Joab the commander of your army,[a] and Abiathar the priest, and right now they are feasting with him and shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he did not invite me, sir, or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or Solomon. 27 Did Your Majesty approve all this and not even tell your officials who is to succeed you as king?”
28 King David said, “Ask Bathsheba to come back in”—and she came and stood before him. 29 Then he said to her, “I promise you by the living Lord, who has rescued me from all my troubles, 30 that today I will keep the promise I made to you in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel, that your son Solomon would succeed me as king.”
31 Bathsheba bowed low and said, “May my lord the king live forever!”
32 Then King David sent for Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah. When they came in, 33 he said to them, “Take my court officials with you; have my son Solomon ride my own mule, and escort him down to Gihon Spring, 34 where Zadok and Nathan are to anoint him as king of Israel. Then blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 Follow him back here when he comes to sit on my throne. He will succeed me as king, because he is the one I have chosen to be the ruler of Israel and Judah.”
36 “It shall be done,” answered Benaiah, “and may the Lord your God confirm it! 37 As the Lord has been with Your Majesty, may he also be with Solomon and make his reign even more prosperous than yours.”
38 So Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah, and the royal bodyguards put Solomon on King David’s mule and escorted him to Gihon Spring. 39 Zadok took the container of olive oil which he had brought from the Tent of the Lord’s presence, and anointed Solomon. They blew the trumpet, and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 Then they all followed him back, shouting for joy and playing flutes, making enough noise to shake the ground.
41 As Adonijah and all his guests were finishing the feast, they heard the noise. And when Joab heard the trumpet, he asked, “What’s the meaning of all that noise in the city?” 42 Before he finished speaking, Jonathan, the son of the priest Abiathar, arrived. “Come on in,” Adonijah said. “You’re a good man—you must be bringing good news.”
43 “I’m afraid not,” Jonathan answered. “His Majesty King David has made Solomon king. 44 He sent Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah, and the royal bodyguards to escort him. They had him ride on the king’s mule, 45 and Zadok and Nathan anointed him as king at Gihon Spring. Then they went into the city, shouting for joy, and the people are now in an uproar. That’s the noise you just heard. 46 Solomon is now the king. 47 What is more, the court officials went in to pay their respects to His Majesty King David and said, ‘May your God make Solomon even more famous than you, and may Solomon’s reign be even more prosperous than yours.’ Then King David bowed in worship on his bed 48 and prayed, ‘Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has today made one of my descendants succeed me as king, and has let me live to see it!’”
49 Then Adonijah’s guests were afraid, and they all got up and left, each going his own way. 50 Adonijah, in great fear of Solomon, went to the Tent of the Lord’s presence and took hold of the corners of the altar.[b] 51 King Solomon was told that Adonijah was afraid of him and that he was holding on to the corners of the altar and had said, “First, I want King Solomon to swear to me that he will not have me put to death.”
52 Solomon replied, “If he is loyal, not even a hair on his head will be touched; but if he is not, he will die.” 53 King Solomon then sent for Adonijah and had him brought down from the altar. Adonijah went to the king and bowed low before him, and the king said to him, “You may go home.”
- 1 Kings 1:25 One ancient translation Joab the commander of your army; Hebrew your army commanders.
- 1 Kings 1:50 Small projections at the four corners of the altar that looked like horns. Anyone holding on to them was safe from being killed.