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David in His Old Age

King David was now an old man, and he always felt cold, even under a lot of blankets. His officials said, “Your Majesty, we will look for a young woman to take care of you. She can lie down beside you and keep you warm.” 3-4 They looked everywhere in Israel until they found a very beautiful young woman named Abishag, who lived in the town of Shunem.[a] They brought her to David, and she took care of him. But David did not have sex with her.

Adonijah Tries To Become King

5-6 Adonijah was the son of David and Haggith. He was Absalom’s younger brother[b] and was very handsome. One day, Adonijah started bragging, “I’m going to make myself king!” So he got some chariots and horses, and he hired fifty men as bodyguards. David did not want to hurt his feelings, so he never asked Adonijah why he was doing these things.

Adonijah met with Joab the son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest and asked them if they would help him become king. Both of them agreed to help. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei,[c] and David’s bodyguards all refused.

Adonijah invited his brothers and David’s officials from Judah to go with him to Crawling Rock[d] near Rogel Spring, where he sacrificed some sheep, cattle, and fat calves.[e] 10 But he did not invite Nathan, Benaiah, David’s bodyguards, or his own brother Solomon.

11 When Nathan heard what had happened, he asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother:

Have you heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has made himself king? But David doesn’t know a thing about it. 12 You and your son Solomon will be killed, unless you do what I tell you. 13 Go say to David, “You promised me that Solomon would be the next king. So why is Adonijah now king?”

14 While you are still talking to David, I’ll come in and tell him that everything you said is true.

15 Meanwhile, David was in his bedroom where Abishag was taking care of him because he was so old. Bathsheba went in 16 and bowed down.

“What can I do for you?” David asked.

17 Bathsheba answered:

Your Majesty, you promised me in the name of the Lord your God that my son Solomon would be the next king. 18 But Adonijah has already been made king, and you didn’t know anything about it. 19 He sacrificed a lot of cattle, calves, and sheep. And he invited Abiathar the priest, Joab your army commander, and all your sons to be there, except Solomon, your loyal servant.

20 Your Majesty, everyone in Israel is waiting for you to announce who will be the next king. 21 If you don’t, they will say that Solomon and I have rebelled. They will treat us like criminals and kill us as soon as you die.

22 Just then, Nathan the prophet arrived. 23 Someone told David that he was there, and Nathan came in. He bowed with his face to the ground 24 and said:

Your Majesty, did you say that Adonijah would be king? 25 Earlier today, he sacrificed a lot of cattle, calves, and sheep. He invited the army commanders, Abiathar, and all your sons to be there. Right now they are eating and drinking and shouting, “Long live King Adonijah!” 26 But he didn’t invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or Solomon. 27 Did you say they could do this without telling the rest of us who would be the next king?

Solomon Becomes King

28 David said, “Tell Bathsheba to come here.” She came and stood in front of him. 29-30 Then he said, “The living Lord God of Israel has kept me safe. And so today, I will keep the promise I made to you in his name: Solomon will be the next king!”

31 Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Your Majesty, I pray that you will live a long time!”

32 Then David said, “Tell Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah to come here.”

When they arrived, 33 he told them:

Take along some of my officials and have Solomon ride my own mule to Gihon Spring. 34 When you get there, Zadok and Nathan will make Solomon the new king of Israel. Then after the ceremony[f] is over, have someone blow a trumpet and tell everyone to shout, “Long live King Solomon!” 35 Bring him back here, and he will take my place as king. He is the one I have chosen to rule Israel and Judah.

36 Benaiah answered, “We will do it, Your Majesty. I pray that the Lord your God will let it happen. 37 The Lord has always watched over you, and I pray that he will now watch over Solomon. May the Lord help Solomon to be an even greater king than you.”

38 Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah left and took along the two groups of David’s special bodyguards.[g] Solomon rode on David’s mule as they led him to Gihon Spring. 39 Zadok the priest brought some olive oil from the sacred tent and poured it on Solomon’s head to show that he was now king. A trumpet was blown and everyone shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 Then they played flutes and celebrated as they followed Solomon back to Jerusalem. They made so much noise that the ground shook.

41 Adonijah and his guests had almost finished eating when they heard the noise. Joab also heard the trumpet and asked, “What’s all that noise about in the city?”

42 Just then, Jonathan son of Abiathar came running up. “Come in,” Adonijah said. “An important man like you must have some good news.”

43 Jonathan answered:

No, I don’t! David has just announced that Solomon will be king. 44-45 Solomon rode David’s own mule to Gihon Spring, and Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah, and David’s special bodyguards[h] went with him. When they got there, Zadok and Nathan made Solomon king. Then everyone celebrated all the way back to Jerusalem. That’s the noise you hear in the city. 46 Solomon is now king.

47 And listen to this! David’s officials told him, “We pray that your God will help Solomon to be an even greater king!”

David was in his bed at the time, but he bowed 48 and prayed, “I praise you, Lord God of Israel. You have made my son Solomon king and have let me live to see it.”

49 Adonijah’s guests shook with fear when they heard this news, and they left as fast as they could. 50 Adonijah himself was afraid of what Solomon might do to him, so he ran to the sacred tent and grabbed hold of the corners of the altar for protection.[i]

51 Someone told Solomon, “Adonijah is afraid of you and is holding onto the corners of the altar. He wants you to promise that you won’t kill him.”

52 Solomon answered, “If Adonijah doesn’t cause any trouble, I won’t hurt him. But if he does, I’ll have him killed.” 53 Then he sent someone to the altar to get Adonijah.

After Adonijah came and bowed down, Solomon said, “Adonijah, go home.”

David’s Instructions to Solomon

Not long before David died, he told Solomon:

My son, I will soon die, as everyone must. But I want you to be strong and brave. Do what the Lord your God commands and follow his teachings. Obey everything written in the Law of Moses. Then you will be a success, no matter what you do or where you go. You and your descendants must always faithfully obey the Lord. If you do, he will keep the solemn promise he made to me that someone from our family will always be king of Israel.

Solomon, don’t forget what Joab did to me by killing Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether, the two commanders of Israel’s army. He killed them as if they were his enemies in a war, but he did it when there was no war.[j] He is guilty, and now it’s up to you to punish him in the way you think best. Whatever you do, don’t let him die peacefully in his old age.

The sons of Barzillai from Gilead helped me when I was running from your brother Absalom.[k] Be kind to them and let them eat at your table.

Be sure to do something about Shimei son of Gera from Bahurim in the territory of Benjamin. He cursed and insulted me the day I went to Mahanaim. But later, when he came to meet me at the Jordan River, I promised that I wouldn’t kill him.[l] Now you must punish him. He’s an old man, but you’re wise enough to know that you must have him killed.

David Dies

10-11 David was king of Israel forty years. He ruled seven years from Hebron and thirty-three years from Jerusalem. Then he died and was buried in Jerusalem.[m] 12 His son Solomon became king and took control of David’s kingdom.

Adonijah Is Killed

13 One day, Adonijah went to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and she asked, “Is this a friendly visit?”

“Yes. 14 I just want to talk with you.”

“All right,” she told him, “go ahead.”

15 “You know that I was king for a little while,” Adonijah replied. “And everyone in Israel accepted me as their ruler. But the Lord wanted my brother to be king, so now things have changed. 16 Would you do me a favor?”

“What do you want?” Bathsheba asked.

17 “Please ask Solomon to let me marry Abishag. He won’t say no to you.”

18 “All right,” she said. “I’ll ask him.”

19 When Bathsheba went to see Solomon, he stood up to meet her, then bowed low. He sat back down and had another throne brought in, so his mother could sit at his right side.[n] 20 Bathsheba sat down and then asked, “Would you do me a small favor?”

Solomon replied, “Mother, just tell me what you want, and I will do it.”

21 “Allow your brother Adonijah to marry Abishag,” she answered.

22 Solomon said:

What? Let my older brother marry Abishag? You may as well ask me to let him rule the kingdom! And why don’t you ask such favors for Abiathar and Joab?[o]

23 I swear in the name of the Lord that Adonijah will die because he asked for this! If he doesn’t, I pray that God will severely punish me. 24 The Lord made me king in my father’s place and promised that the kings of Israel would come from my family. Yes, I swear by the living Lord that Adonijah will die today.

25 “Benaiah,” Solomon shouted, “go kill Adonijah.” So Adonijah died.

Abiathar Is Sent Back Home

26 Solomon sent for Abiathar the priest and said:

Abiathar, go back home to Anathoth! You ought to be killed too, but I won’t do it now. When my father David was king, you were in charge of the sacred chest, and you went through a lot of hard times with my father. 27 But I won’t let you be a priest of the Lord anymore.

And so the promise that the Lord had made at Shiloh about the family of Eli came true.[p]

Joab Is Killed

28 Joab had not helped Absalom try to become king, but he had helped Adonijah. So when Joab learned that Adonijah had been killed, he ran to the sacred tent and grabbed hold of the corners of the altar for protection.[q] 29 When Solomon heard about this, he sent someone to ask Joab, “Why did you run to the altar?”

Joab sent back his answer, “I was afraid of you, and I ran to the Lord for protection.”[r]

Then Solomon shouted, “Benaiah, go kill Joab!”

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent and yelled, “Joab, the king orders you to come out!”

“No!” Joab answered. “Kill me right here.”

Benaiah went back and told Solomon what Joab had said.

31-32 Solomon replied:

Do what Joab said. Kill him and bury him! Then my family and I won’t be responsible for what he did to Abner the commander of Israel’s army and to Amasa the commander of Judah’s army. He killed those innocent men without my father knowing about it. Both of them were better men than Joab. Now the Lord will make him pay for those murders. 33 Joab’s family will always suffer because of what he did, but the Lord will always bless David’s family and his kingdom with peace.

34 Benaiah went back and killed Joab. His body was taken away and buried near his home in the desert.

35 Solomon put Benaiah in Joab’s place as army commander, and he put Zadok in Abiathar’s place as priest.

Shimei Is Killed

36 Solomon sent for Shimei and said, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live in it. But whatever you do, don’t leave the city! 37 If you ever cross Kidron Valley and leave Jerusalem, you will be killed. And it will be your own fault.”

38 “That’s fair, Your Majesty,” Shimei answered. “I’ll do that.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem from then on.

39 About three years later, two of Shimei’s servants ran off to King Achish in Gath. When Shimei found out where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went after them. He found them and brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Someone told Solomon that Shimei had gone to Gath and was back. 42 Solomon sent for him and said:

Shimei, you promised in the name of the Lord that you would never leave Jerusalem. I warned you that you would die if you did. You agreed that this was fair, didn’t you? 43 You have disobeyed me and have broken the promise you made to the Lord.

44 I know you remember all the cruel things you did to my father David. Now the Lord is going to punish you for what you did. 45 But the Lord will bless me and make my father’s kingdom strong forever.

46 “Benaiah,” Solomon shouted, “kill Shimei.” So Shimei died.

Solomon was now in complete control of his kingdom.


  1. 1.3,4 Shunem: A town in northern Israel, just north of Jezreel Valley.
  2. 1.5,6 brother: Since Absalom was dead, Adonijah was now David’s oldest living son and would be next in line to be king.
  3. 1.8 Shimei, Rei: Or “Shimei his advisor.”
  4. 1.9 Crawling Rock: Or “Zoheleth Rock.”
  5. 1.9 sacrificed. . . calves: This was part of a ceremony where Adonijah was made the new king.
  6. 1.34 the ceremony: Part of this ceremony was pouring olive oil on Solomon’s head to show that he was now king.
  7. 1.38 the two. . . bodyguards: The Hebrew text has “the Cherethites and the Pelethites,” who were foreign soldiers hired by David to be part of his bodyguard.
  8. 1.44,45 David’s special bodyguards: See the note at 1.38.
  9. 1.50 the corners. . . for protection: The four corners of some ancient altars looked like animal horns. Since the entire altar was sacred, anyone holding on to its corners was supposed to be safe from being killed.
  10. 2.5 war: See 2 Samuel 3.22-27 and 20.7-10.
  11. 2.7 Absalom: See 2 Samuel 17.27-29.
  12. 2.8 him: See 2 Samuel 16.5-14 and 19.16-23.
  13. 2.10,11 Jerusalem: Hebrew “the city of David.”
  14. 2.19 at his right side: The place of honor.
  15. 2.22 And why. . . Joab: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  16. 2.27 the promise. . . came true: See 1 Samuel 2.27-34.
  17. 2.28 the corners. . . for protection: See the note at 1.50.
  18. 2.29 he sent someone. . . for protection: One ancient translation; these words are not in the Hebrew text.

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