Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan
Sermon Title:God establishes David’s Successor
Scripture Text: 1 Kings 1 & 2
Succession in jeopardy
Succession in perpetuity
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.
Continue here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+1&version=ESV
Blessed Sunday morning to all. Today we begin our journey through the book of 1 & 2 Kings. This journey will take us through 24 sermons and finish at the end of Nov.
For all of us who have journey through 1 & 2 Samuel, this is a continuation.
In 1 & 2 Samuel, Israel demanded from God a king like that of the other nations and so God gave them Saul and then David.
In 2 Samuel 7, God made a covenant with David, 2 Sam 7:16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’
With that as the background, 1 & 2 Kings, begins at the end of David’s life. And it seems to me not quite a positive picture. David is old and frail and yet there is no firm successor in sight.
Is God in control? Is God able to keep His promise to David and establish his throne forever?
The world has not change isn’t it. Even today, succession into national power is fraught with uncertainty, nothing is ever firm.
I’m sure we are all aware that till last month, we were not sure who would be the president of the world’s superpower. There were challenges to the legitimacy of the election results right till the week of the inauguration.
Nearer home, in the country of one of our missions partners, there too, legitimacy of the country’s recent election has been called into question. Much turmoil has resulted as different political parties tussle for power.
Is God in control during David’s succession? Is God in control today in the 21st century?
The thrust of 1 & 2 Kings, tell us, that God is still in control even when the world, as seen from our human eyes, seem broken and out of control.
The first audience receiving 1 & 2 Kings were people in exile. They are God’s people who have already experienced the events of 1 & 2 Kings.
So the writer of 1 & 2 Kings is telling them why they are in exile and to give them a hope, that their exile is not the end.
God has not forsaken them, God’s plan is still being worked out. God is still in control.
Confident that God is in control of the full situation, the Apostle Paul, under much persecution, tells fellow Christians:
Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
The Apostle Peter says something similar –
1 Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
So, to the exiles hearing 1 & 2 Kings, to the persecuted Christians in the 1st Century and to all of us now, God’s word says, God is sovereign and in control. It may not look like it, but He is.
Trust God and keep the faith.
Now even as 1 & 2 Kings holds out the hope in God, it also tells us why mankind is in such a sorry state.
One bible commentator has helpfully put it into 3 Ws.
Firstly 1 & 2 Kings will show us that we do not Worship the true and living God. Mankind is prone to idolatry. This we will see repeatedly in the lives of the kings and the nation of Israel and Judah.
Secondly God’s Word is to be central in the lives of Mankind. But again we constantly reject it. God’s Word is to be fully obeyed, but sinful humanity will always turn from it. But when God’s Word is obeyed, we see the blessings of God, are poured out upon His people.
Finally, Weakness. We see that that there is no perfect human being. The best of us all fail. We are never consistent, we all have strong weaknesses, we all succumb to the temptations of sin.
So, the only way we can have hope to persevere in the faith is when we realize that there is a perfect human whom we can put our trust in.
One who is in perfect relationship with God, who is obedient to God’s word completely and who has no sinful weakness in Him.
Unlike the Jews in exile, unlike the Christians in the 1st Century, we today are the most blessed. We have God’s full revelation found in Scripture. We can see everything from the perspective that Calvary has already happened.
We know that we can place our hope in Jesus Christ who is the Son of David, the Son of God.
Succession in jeopardy
Let’ look this morning at 1 Kings chapter 1 & 2 in two sections.
Firstly, I submit that chapter 1 gives us the picture that succession of David’s throne seems to be in jeopardy. Yet, we will also see, that God continues to work out His will through human agents such as the characters we meet in this chapter.
Let’s begin with king David.
2 things are dangerous for a man like king David. Inactivity and the company of a beautiful young woman.
Remember in 2 Sam 11, we are told, David, instead of going out to war like any other kings, sent his general to do it. And in his inactivity, spotted a very beautiful woman bathing and committed adultery with Bathsheba.
A somewhat similar situation is described for us in the first 4 verses of 1 Kings. Now David is inactive due to his advance age and his servants seek for him, a human hot water bottle in Abishag.
And it should heighten our senses when the writer describes Abishag in the same manner as Bathsheba. They both were very beautiful.
I submit that the writer of Kings, by using the tools of compare and contrast, subtly brings out nuances in the narrative for us.
So similarities between 1 Kings 1 and 2 Sam 11 gives us a feeling that the narrative is not that positive.
Not only is king David weak and frail, he has proven again to be an indulgent father.
The writer of 1 Kings gives an insight in 1 Kgs 1:6 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.
And this was consistent indulgent parenting by king David. Remember in 2 Samuel 13 & 14, David did not correct his son Amnon when he raped his sister Tamar.
And was also too quick to forgive Absalom for murdering his brother Amnon.
So, the writer is highlighting for us, (1) David’s inactivity as a king with regards to succession and (2) his inactivity as a father through his indulgence.
Thus, David had to be chastised that he is not doing what he needs to finish well. And that comes in the form of questioning by Nathan and Bathsheba.
This spurs the old king to do what he was supposed to do. So from v28 to 40, we see David springing into action. He begins to issue out the detailed coronation orders for Solomon to be the co-regent.
Making it official, by the use of his royal mule, the participation of Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah the general.
What a contrast these verses depict of David from the first 4 verses.
And we are told, Solomon as David’s successor was not an afterthought. No, this was what God had already revealed to David and Nathan.
I submit, David testimony is call today for us to ensure that we finish well. Especially to what the Lord has already revealed to us.
And I think this is pertinent for all of us who have the responsibility of church leadership. God has given us the criteria for Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses in the New Testament. It is then our responsibility to identify and equip potential leaders before we step down.
Who does Adonijah remind you of? His brother Absalom right? Both were very handsome. Both wanted to be king. Both prepared for themselves chariots and horses and 50 men to run before them.
I submit, Adonijah displayed the pride of life. The key sin of mankind. Wanting to be lord of our lives.
Adonijah based on birth order was next in line for the throne. But he knew the throne was not his.
1 Kgs 1:9he 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.
1 Kgs 2:15 He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord.
Adonijah is contrasted for us against an inactive David.
David needed to be responsible to hand over the throne well but didn’t. Adonijah however needed to subject himself to the revealed will of God, but instead took matters into his own hands.
And we see that he did not learn his lesson, for in chapter 2, he coveted Abishag who belonged to king David.
Basically he was sending a signal to Solomon, I still desire the throne.
The spirit of Adonijah is alive and well in all of us today as well. The sin of pride, lust and covetousness is a temptation we all must daily fight. And we know that this is a battle we face not just in society but even within the faith community.
As lack of proper succession planning by David cause the throne to be in jeopardy, so too did the prideful assertions of Adonijah.
Both have no place in the work of God’s kingdom and may we be vigilant against such attitudes within ourselves.
We next come to Nathan. After David’s adultery with Bathsheba and David’s murder of her husband Uriah, the Lord sent Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 12.
Then, Nathan convicted David of his sin by sharing a parable.
With the kingdom’s succession hanging by a thread, Nathan again steps in and firstly gets Bathsheba involved with his plans.
Roping her in to question David why David was shirking his responsibility, as a king, to firmly establish his successor.
Though it is not explicitly stated that the Lord sent Nathan, I’m sure God must have prompted Nathan in some way.
Nathan is thus presented as one whom the Lord used to stand in the gap.
And through Nathan’s conversations with Bathsheba we see that the choice of Solomon as David’s successor was common knowledge.
1 Kgs 1:13 Go in at once to King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying, “Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne”? Why then is Adonijah king?’
Our Project Ebenezer journey to Henderson has thrown up many Nathans.
Hermonites who have stood in the gaps ensuring that the ministry and witness of the church does not fall through, as we transit to another location.
Each one of you who have contributed sacrificially to our Development Fund has exemplified this Nathan principle too. God has used you to stand in our financial gaps.
In our partnership with Ps Samson of FEC, Hermonites and all in FEC have stood in the gaps for those facing the challenge of poverty in our neighbouring country.
Imagine for $600 Singapore dollars, a family can have a proper roof over their heads.
Let us always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. For we are called to be God’s channel of blessing by standing in the gaps.
Finally, we have Bathsheba.
I don’t think she had an easy life. I’m not sure how much latitude she had in refusing the advances of king David in 2 Samuel 11.
But she had to live through the death of her husband who was a loyal soldier.
She had to also live through the death of her first child with David, for it was the Lord who afflicted the child.
But I see her as a recipient of God’s grace.
9 months after the death of her husband Uriah, she gives birth to a child that soon dies.
It must have been a great emotional challenge for her as we read :
2 Sam 12:24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.
Since we believe that children are a heritage from the Lord, then Solomon was God’s gracious gift to Bathsheba.
And what comfort it must have been to her, to know from Nathan, that Solomon should be called Jedidiah, which means, beloved of the Lord.
God made something beautiful out of the sinful mess that Bathsheba found herself in with king David.
That shows us the grace of God. For God gives us what we do not deserve.
As we have identified with David, Adonijah and Nathan, I’m sure we too can identify with Bathsheba. We too have made many mistakes in our lives, yet God in His graciousness, has redeemed them.
It’s amazing is it not, how God continues to use weak humans to be about His work?
As we carefully review history, may we see God’s sovereign hand, ensuring that His will is fulfilled.
Yet marvel too, that God providentially includes messy, inconsistent, and sinful humanity as part of His processes.
Succession in perpetuity
Chapter 1 answers the question, who should succeed David. And we found out that it is Solomon not Adonijah.
Here in chapter 2, the writer is informing us, how Solomon is to establish his reign and how can David’s throne endure.
This emphasis is seen in the repeat of the word ‘established’ in v4, v12, v24 and v46. And they are all linked to the kingdom or throne.
David tells Solomon, the secret to establishing the throne is as follows:
1 Kgs 2:2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
David is linking obedience to the Law of Moses with that of the covenant God made with David.
Keeping the kingdom and obedience to God’s revealed will, is perfectly compatible.
Is this not surprising? Where is the build an army with state-of-the art weapons, where is establish strategic alliances with key nations, where is ensure the ready access to necessary resources?
Instead, Solomon is to walk in God’s ways. It means, it’s not just knowing what are God’s ways, but to live it out.
And God’s will is to be known comprehensively – keep God’s statutes, God’s commandments, God’s rules and God’s testimonies. Everything that is written in the Law of Moses. This today we see as the first 5 books.
As the Israelites were posed to enter Canaan, Moses instructs them:
Deut 4:1 “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.
David is repeating to Solomon what Moses said to Joshua and the Israelites. The secret to stability and security for the kingdom, is obedience to God’s revealed will.
Jesus, the Son of David, says:
Mt 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The secret to stability and security has not changed. Know God’s will and be obedient to it.
That means, all the spiritual experiences we have encountered, the many things we have achieved for Jesus, they all do not count. The question at the end of the day is, have we been obedient to Christ.
2 things we can now ask of ourselves this morning. Do we know God’s revealed will comprehensively? Do we focus only on parts of the bible that we like and ignore those that make us uncomfortable?
God says, all scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
Secondly, do we see God’s will as a command or a suggestion? Are we hearers or are we doers? James says:
Jas 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
David said to Solomon, when you walk in God’s ways, you will prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
Remember the 3 Ws I mentioned earlier. 2 of the Ws are Worship of God and obedience to God’s Word.
This is the high point from which we will evaluate 1 & 2 Kings. Will David’s successors walk in the right way – worshipping Yahweh and having God’s Word be central in their lives?
After the first 4 verses, we see how practically, Solomon establishes and makes his throne secure. The rest of the chapter narrates Solomon’s dealings with Joab, sons of Barzillai, Shimei, Abiathar and Adonijah.
Just reading the narrative by itself makes it appear that Solomon is being discerning and smart. It seems Solomon actions, displays the expediencies which most of us would actually agree with.
The author even puts David’s instructions on the act of kindness to the sons of Barzillai in v6 in-between the elimination of Joab and Shimei.
Yet, may I submit for our consideration more nuanced view. If we zoom out and see chapter 2 & 3 together, it seems there is a possible contrast which the author is trying to reveal.
We have – walk in God’s ways (2:1-4) and then in chapter 3, how God gives exceptional wisdom to Solomon to govern.
But between these 2, we have David giving Solomon, his wisdom about securing the throne.
David says to Solomon in the case of Joab and Shimei – act according to your wisdom.
1 Kgs 2:6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his (Joab) gray head go down to Sheol in peace.
1 Kgs 2:9 Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray (Shimei) head down with blood to Sheol.”
It’s even more interesting with Shimei. David is saying to Solomon, I made a promise to Shimei that I will not kill him. But you Solomon, think how you can get rid of him.
Yet ironically, he wants Solomon to keep David’s promise to Barzillai.
Solomon relied on the advice of his father and his acts of expediencies seems logical. So is this a continuation of godly wisdom or a contrast from godly wisdom?
Now commentators are divided as to how to read David’s advice and Solomon’s execution of it.
Is it considered necessary expediencies or ruthless elimination of all threats. Is Solomon to be seen as an astute politician or a vindictive king?
And I’m sure there will be both sides in this debate in our CG discussions.
May I just highlight the writer’s comments about Abiathar:
1 Kgs 2:27 So Solomon expelled Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, thus fulfilling the word of the Lord that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.
Because of Eli’s neglectful parenting, his sons rebelled against God and the Lord gave a prophecy of punishment towards Eli’s household.
So God in His timing, through the hands of man, made the prophecy of discipline in Eli’s household, come to pass.
May this little note, give us assurance that God is still sovereignly in control of all things. That His word will come to pass, in His timing.
Let me bring our time in these 2 chapters to a close. To the people in exile, asking the question, has God forgotten them, 1 Kgs 1 & 2, informs, no God has not forgotten them.
We see the plans of David’s successor go through precarious situations. Yet, God is still in control. His destinated person Solomon succeeded David and has now established securely the throne.
In the midst of life’s ambiguities, even through seemingly dubious acts of people, God still works out His purposes providentially.
Now having been acquainted better with 1 Kgs 1 & 2, may we have the perspective of joyous fulfilment when we read again Mark 1:14Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”