As David nears the end of his life his throne is usurped once again. David’s fourth son, Adonijah takes what he believes is his rightful place. Not so!
David’s parenting skills once again come back to bite him. David has a habit of not correcting his children. We see right away that this is the case with Adonijah. “His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” (verse 6a). And by not directly confronting him “No, Solomon will be king after me” Adonijah takes what he believes to be rightfully his. He is, after all, the oldest surviving son of David.
I’m going to bank of the fact that David has made his wishes known for who will succeed him as king. We know of several people who knew of his plans, including Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet. I seriously doubt that Adonijah was in the dark about his father’s plans for the kingdom. David had also not decided it was time to step down yet. He was still ruling from his bed.
Adonijah made all the preparations to be king right under David’s nose, just as Absalom had done. His preparations differed from Absalom’s in that Absalom approached the people to win them over and Adonijah approached Joab and Abiathar. These two men were loyal to David during the time Absalom tried to take the throne but now they are helping Adonijah when the surely know David’s heart on the matter.
Adonijah prepared chariots and horsemen and fifty men to run before him. He planned a banquet and sacrifice where he would put himself forward as king. He also sent out invitations to the king’s sons (except Solomon) and the leaders Judah. Absent from the guest list were Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah, Shimei, Rei and the rest of David’s mighty men.
Those who were loyal to David and faithful to follow his wishes for Solomon to be king were purposefully left out. Did you notice that the rest of the leaders of Israel were left out too? Absalom presented himself before Judah first as well. And both were following in their father’s footsteps on that issue as David was first crowned by Judah then rose to rule the rest of Israel.
Something else that Adonijah had going for him was his looks. He was “a very handsome man” (verse 6c). He had the backing of the people the same way Saul did; by looks. He ‘looked’ like a king. And we all know that looks can be deceiving.
I’m curious why Joab abandoned David. I have no doubt that he knew who David chose to rule next. The last thing we have recorded where Joab followed David’s command is the census he took. Joab didn’t want to do the job at all because he believed it was sinful, and he was right. During the task he deliberately left out two tribes, Benjamin and Levi, because he knew David’s command was wrong. Did the punishment Israel suffered on behalf of David’s sin sour his and Joab’s relationship? Something must have happened for Joab and Abiathar to leave David’s side. This is it for their relationship.
I was thinking about what lesson God would have me take from our reading today. I keep coming back to a four way Stop sign. There is a series of rules that govern who has the ‘right of way’ in these situations but not everyone follows the rules. Sometimes by forcing your rights in this situation you may wind up dead. Adonijah, by Israel’s standard inheritance laws, had the right to become king after David passed. But that was not what his father had planned. Forcing his ‘rights’ set him up for serious trouble.
In the faith movement I’ve heard healing, financial prosperity, and many other things claimed as ‘rights’ as a child of God. I believe in healing. I also believe God blesses people, including me. But I will NEVER claim them as ‘my rights.’ God knows what is needed in my life. I will ask Him for what I need and leave the decision on how to work in my life up to Him. It is only by grace that I have access to Him to begin with.
Father God, thank You for the plans You have for my life. Thank You for the gifts You have given me. Thank You that I do have standing in Your Kingdom as Your child but that You know what is best for me in my life. I AM a child of the King. And I will follow HIS direction instead of insisting on my own.