Coup (Again)


1 Kings 1:1-10
1 Now King David was old and advanced in years. And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.
2 Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king and be in his service. Let her lie in your arms, that my lord the king may be warm.”
3 So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
4 The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not.
5 Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
6 His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom.
7 He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him.
8 But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.
9 Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle by the Serpent’s Stone, which is beside En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah,
10 but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or Solomon his brother.

David has been a good king for God’s people. But his time of leadership draws to a close as he passes into old age. David’s age and infirmity are illustrated by the placement of Abishag in his bed in order to help keep him warm (and that fact that he did not have sex with her also points to his declining strength.) Abishag’s position as David’s “concubine” is important later in the story. A problem that has troubled David’s reign in the past rises up again. One of his sons – this time Adonijah – seeks to become king before David has even died. Recall from 2 Samuel 15, Absalom also tries unsuccessfully to take David’s throne.

Since the fall of Adam into sin, we have been tempted by the desire for personal power. Satan’s bait for Eve was that if she would take the fruit, she would “be like God.” One of the ways that particular temptation plays itself out in our lives is when we seek to take power that doesn’t belong to us. And for most, the possibility of having power over others can indeed be a great temptation. Before you poo-poo that notion in your own life, remember that power over others doesn’t necessarily always mean political power, such as we see unfolding with Adonijah and David. We can make a grab for power anywhere in our lives; our workplaces, at church, even inside of our own families. The amusing thing is that generally that “power” is merely an illusion, for all of us are completely powerless. God alone has true power, for He alone can truly judge, protect, and provide. Over and over in the Scriptures we are invited to run into the safety of His arms, for it only there that we are free from the power grab of others and it is under His wings that the machinations of others have no power over us.

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