Sermon preached on 1 Kings 1 by Rev. W. Reid Hankins during the Morning Worship Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 6/9/2019 in Novato, CA.
Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
1 Kings 1
Sit on My Throne
The recent Star Wars trilogy, episodes 7, 8, and 9, have strategically used the beloved original cast of characters to introduce the new ones. Star Wars brought the beloved but aged Luke, Leia, and Han, into this new trilogy in a way that beautifully unites the original movies with this next generation of characters to tell one ongoing saga and story. We see something similar here. The book of 1 and 2 Kings are about the kingdom of God’s people after King David. The first half of 1 Kings is especially about King Solomon. And though Solomon is involved in today’s passage, he is not by any means a central figure in this chapter. Instead, we see several prominent and memorable people from 1 and 2 Samuel, who have been closely connected with King David’s reign. We see Joab, David’s army commander. We see Nathan the prophet and the priests Zadok and Abiathar. We see his wife Bathsheba. We see Benaiah and his other mighty men. These all play an important role in this chapter. And of course, we see King David. David, in the twilight of his earthly life and of his reign, is really the key figure in this passage. As much as we rightly see the rise of King Solomon in this chapter, it’s really a story of David still at this point. So then, we’ll look at this chapter in three points. First, we’ll see David’s weakness. Second, we’ll consider David’s strength. Third, we’ll reflect on David’s praise.
So then, let’s begin first with David’s weakness. His physical weakness is highlighted in the opening four verses. There we find he is old and cold. Due to his advanced age, he can’t get warm. Surely this is representative of the overall general weakness of King David at this point in his reign. So, his servants have a practical solution, albeit a solution according to the flesh. They find a beautiful, young woman, Abishag, to come and attend the king. She could lay next to him and help keep him warm. That’s better than any electric blanket, I’m sure! Well, how much it helped him feel warm, we aren’t told. But notice what we are told. Despite the text emphasizing to us of this virgin’s beauty, verse 4 tells us that David did not know her. He did not take her as either a wife or concubine. If you have thought the point of verse 4 is somehow to speak to David’s virtue toward this young woman, I think you have missed the point. The reason to tell us this little intimate detail about the bed of King David is surely to show how weak he had truly become. Not even such a young and beautiful woman could stir the power of this declining, impotent king.
The text then transitions in verse 5 to the presumptuous ambition of David’s son Adonijah and it connects this with David’s weakness in verse 6. Adonijah wants to be king. From a fleshly point of view, this is not surprising. The text tells us here with the reference to Absalom that Adonijah was David’s oldest surviving son. From the way the world’s kingdoms work, that would mean that Adonijah would be first in line to succeed King David. You might have noticed that Adonijah and Abishag both are described here as outwardly beautiful, and I think the reason is that they are both representing the conventional, fleshly wisdom. Adonijah looked in multiple ways like the best choice for the next king of Israel. Yet, it was presumptuous of Adonijah to do think this. Certainly, at this point in Israel’s history, there was no precedence for how dynastic succession would work. Up to this point the only two kings of Israel had been directly selected by God and anointed by his prophets. Nonetheless, Adonijah desired to be king and began to take steps to achieve the crown. It begins in verse 5 with him amassing chariots and horseman and men, again all vary outward symbols of strength. And it’s there that the text connects his presumption with David’s weakness. When Adonjah begins to act on his presumptuous ambition, his father does nothing. David in his weakness does not speak to rebuke Adonijah’s presumptuous ambitions.
So then, Adonijah only further strengthens his hand by soliciting the aid of two key people, Joab the commander of David’s army, and Abiathar, one of David’s priests. Joab brought military strength and authority. Abiathar brought the religious authority and connection. With their support, and David’s silence, Adonijah’s hand continued to strengthen. At that point, he moved forward to essentially crown himself king. In verses 9-10, he orchestrates and tries to legitimize his own illegitimate coronation. He calls all his brothers today, the other royal princes, and the royal servants of Judah. In a gathering involving sacrifices and feasting, apparently Adonijah declares himself king. But it is notable that missing from this illegitimate coronation is Nathan the prophet, Zadok the priest, and a few other prominent people. Most notably missing is Solomon. Adonijah invited all his brothers but Solomon, which shows that he knew that it was father’s will for Solomon to be king.
Now, it we stopped the story right there, we might assume that was the end of the matter. At that point, it sounds like Adonijah had effectively managed to thwart his father’s will and make himself king. But realize that if he had, it would have been a coup; a peaceful coup – at least for the moment – but a coup nonetheless. But that leads us then to our second point, to consider David’s strength. Starting in verse 11, the presumption of Adonijah is contrasted with the zeal of Nathan and Bathsheba who spur on King David to strength.
Now that at first might seem like an interesting duo to come and invoke David to strength. When I hear of Nathan and Bathsheba, the first thing that comes to my mind is David’s weakness. What I mean is that I immediately recall back to 2 Samuel 11 and 12 when David sinned greatly by stealing Bathsheba from her husband to Uriah and orchestrating Uriah’s death to cover up the fact that Bathsheba was pregnant with his child. It was Nathan then who God immediately sent to condemn David on this secret sin. Thankfully, the prophetic word through Nathan brought genuine repentance by David back then. But God told David through Nathan that there would still be consequences for his sin. One consequence was that this first son born to him and Bathsheba would die, which he did. But a second consequence was Nathan told David that the sword would never depart from his house, and that God would raise up adversity against David from his own house. That consequence continued to be realized here in this chapter with Adonijah trying to take the throne from his father, much like Absalom had tried to do years before.
And so, if I was David, when Nathan and Bathsheba came to me to, I might be tempted to remember my past sin and its consequences and just stay lying in such weakness. But that’s not what happened, and for good reason. Notice how Bathsheba begins in respectful but direct confrontation with David. Verse 17, even in the presence of the failed effort of Abishag to spur David to strength, Bathsheba invokes the name of the LORD to David. She says, “My lord, you swore by the LORD your God.” And so, we learn for the first time in Scripture that David had swore an oath to Bathsheba that Solomon would succeed him as king. David had sworn to her, “Solomon shall sit on my throne.” What Abishag in her outward beauty failed to do, the matured Bathsheba begins to do by the power of the name of the LORD. Reminding David of his religious act of worship to God of swearing an oath in his name, we see the beginning of David being invigorated one last time to do the work of the Lord. Nathan comes in and is further used to confirm the concern raised by Bathsheba.
And so, whereas I might be tempted to see Nathan and Bathsheba her and be reminded of David’s sin and weakness, that’s not what David remembers. We see what comes to David’s mind in verse 29. David remembers the redemption of the LORD, verse 29. In renewed strength, David this time does speak, and he speaks to reaffirm his previous oath. But he does it by declaring, “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress.” And in that oath David again affirms, Solomon shall sit on my throne.” And so, if Nathan and Bathsheba’s presence in any way reminds David of his weakness, it only serves to highlight to David the redeeming grace of God. God’s grace had been sufficient to David. Yes, since that sin long ago, the sword never departed from his house. But neither had God and his redeeming grace.
And so then, we remember with David how else Bathsheba and especially Nathan fit into all this. After David and Bathsheba’s first son died, that’s when they next had Solomon. That’s when God sent Nathan again to David with a special message for him, that the LORD loved the boy, 2 Samuel 12:25. Thus, they also named Solomon Jedidiah, meaning “Beloved of the LORD”. Well, that should be remembered in the context of the one other big prophecy of Nathan to David. It was a prophecy before the whole Bathsheba incident. It was the prophecy back in 2 Samuel 7 of the Davidic kingdom – what we refer to as the Davidic Covenant. There, God promised David that God would make from David’s house an eternal kingdom. God told David there that he would establish the throne of David’s kingdom forever! God told David these things through Nathan.
So, do you see how all these prophetic words from God through Nathan have come together in the life of David and even Bathsheba? God told David through Nathan that his lineage and kingdom would continue forever. God also told David through Nathan how much God loved Solomon. Surely that is what informed David’s earlier oath to bestow the kingdom and the throne upon Solomon. Yes, God also told David through Nathan that he would never have peace in his house in his lifetime. But put all these prophecies together, and David could find strength and a sure hope in the promises of God. As God had redeemed him from adversity before to preserve the promise of a Davidic kingdom, David knew here that God would do that again that day. If Adonijah had succeeded in stealing the kingdom from David in treasonous rebellion, then David’s kingdom really wouldn’t be continuing. So, David knew that could not happen, and so David acted in the strength of faith to secure the throne to Solomon that day.
And so, David goes into action. He calls his loyal supporters together, those who also were the ones excluded by Adonijah. In addition to Nathan and Bathsheba, he calls in Zadok the priest and Banaiah, a leader among David’s mighty men. They with others execute the King’s word and bring forth Solomon now in a legitimate coronation. In verse 38 they place Solomon on the king’s mule – a contrast to the fleshly show of strength in the chariots and horseman of Adonijah. In verse 39 Solomon is anointed and all the people declare, “Long live King Solomon”. Then the celebration is so huge that it seemed to split the earth. That noise is what signals defeat to Adonijah and, long story short, all his supporters desert him, and he is left alone to ultimately have to beg for mercy from King Solomon. But in terms of Solomon’s coronation, it ends with David literally sitting Solomon on his throne, verse 46. What you have then is a coregency, father and son reigning from that throne of David, with Solomon firmly established as the king who will continue after his father’s approaching death. And so, in the power of David’s word, all this coronation and establishment of Solomon as King took place. But then realize, that behind all this, David’s strength and power was ultimately rooted in the promises of God given to him in the Davidic covenant. Here, those promises show that they do not fail.
In our last point for today, let us know turn and consider David’s praise. That’s the outcome for David in this chapter. His last words in this chapter are recorded there in verse 48. David is so pleased to be able to be alive to see his son Solomon succeed him and sit on his throne. Again, surely David has the promises of God in mind her. What God promised him in the Davidic Covenant – he is privileged to get to see some of it already beginning to take place. Think about it; kings often die before they get to see if their son will truly be able to be secured as the next king. David gets to see that, and it’s especially exciting because of God’s promises to David regarding the everlasting throne that would come through his house. And so then, David says here in verse 48, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it!” The God who had previously redeemed his life from every distress continued to do so that day. And so, David rightly praised God for such mercy and grace.
And indeed, such praise to God was indeed fitting. Notice that there is no explicit action by God in this chapter. There’s no miracle recorded that secures Solomon on the throne. There’s no direct intervention by God or even new prophetic word by God recorded here. Only the actions of God’s people who were acting on their faith in the Word of God. But it would be wrong to conclude that God wasn’t behind all this. As Benaiah rightly acknowledged in verse 36, David’s word to install Solomon as king was only powerful if God confirmed it. And in fact, God did confirm David’s oath to set Solomon on his throne. We should recognize that God was behind all this. David recognized it, that’s why he blessed God in praise at the end. Let us recognize it again today.
Why it is especially important for us to recognize this is because how it fits into the bigger picture where we come into the picture. The promise of the Davidic covenant to David moved forward here with Solomon sitting on the throne. But the promise continued to move forward from there until it came to the climax of the promise in Jesus Christ. I love the faith seen in this even here by David and his servants. They all hope for Solomon’s reign to be better, more glorious, than David’s. Benaiah says this in verse 37. David’s servants repeat it in verse 47. They all pray for God to do this! David himself bows to Solomon – I think of Psalm 110, “the Lord says to my Lord” sort of thing. Surely, this is all looking to the promise! For God’s promise to David ultimately promised a greater king and kingdom coming forth from his lineage from what David himself had. David acknowledged that right away back in 2 Samuel 7 when God first gave him the promise. David said that such a promise meant God thought all that God had already done for David was but a “small thing.” In other words, David recognized right from the start that such a promise meant God would be doing something so much greater yet in the future through his line. David began in faith to see that here with Solomon. But now in the vantage point of more history, we can see so clearly that it ultimately came to its climax in Jesus. If David had hopes for Solomon to be his greater son, Jesus is the greatest son of both David and Solomon.
This future greatness of Jesus can be thought of in terms of the throne. There are thirteen references to David’s throne in this chapter. Most of them refer to Solomon sitting on his father David’s throne. That’s what this chapter is about, it’s about Solomon coming to sit upon his father’s throne. Well, in Luke 1:32, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that this is what Jesus also would receive. Luke 1:32, “The Lord God will give him the throne of His father David.” Yet, what was literal for Solomon, is typological for Jesus. What I mean is that Solomon literally, physically, sat on a throne in Jerusalem and ruled over the earthly Davidic kingdom. But the full extent of the Davidic promises looked beyond that to something greater. The throne of king David typologically looked to the greater throne Jesus would literally sit upon. Not the throne of his earthly father David, but the throne of his Heavenly Father. Jesus said in Revelation 3:21 that after his victory at the cross, he sat down with his Father on his Father’s throne. That explains why Jesus could say after the cross in Matthew 28 that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to him. Jesus typologically possessed the throne of David in the sense that David’s throne looked forward to the greater, heavenly throne of thrones that his heir Jesus would possess eternally.
We come into this kingdom through such a glorious and exalted King of kings. We have been blessed to see King Jesus sit on the throne of thrones in his ascended exaltation! Well, as we have reflected on this passage today, I want to once more remind you of the grace of God. It was a gift from God to give David such a kingdom. That was reflected here so much with Solomon. Unlike his brother’s presumptuous but failing efforts to secure a kingdom by human scheming, Solomon is gifted the kingdom from his father. David bestows the kingdom upon his son. Solomon’s lack of action in this chapter is glaring. But that highlights grace – the kingdom was bestowed upon him, Solomon didn’t grab it. Amazingly, despite the way Jesus so clearly earned the kingdom, that language of gifting of the kingdom and his authority is even used by Jesus to describe how his heavenly father had gifted it to him. Surely that’s in light of his human nature, not his divine nature. Luke 22:29, Jesus describes how his Heavenly Father has bestowed a kingdom upon him. But here’s the kicker. Here’s the wonderful application to us today. Jesus also says there in Luke to his disciples, “And I bestow upon you a kingdom.” Or in Revelation Jesus promises this reward to Christians, that we will get to sit with him on his throne! Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.” What a beautiful picture painted here with David and Solomon! Father and son sitting in coregency – that looking to Jesus Christ who even now sits in coregency with the Father on the throne of thrones in heaven! And that looks to this promise for us believers – we will sit in coregency with Jesus Christ on that throne which God establishes forever. As Solomon so by grace received this throne today, we too have the hope of such a throne as a gift of grace upon grace. This is reason for us to join again with David in praise of the LORD God who keeps us until that day that we can see this. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
All Rights Reserved.