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Adonijah Wants to Be King

King David was very old and could not keep warm. His servants covered him with blankets, but he was still cold. So they said to him, “We will find a young woman to care for you. She will lie next to you and keep you warm.” So the king’s servants began looking everywhere in the country of Israel for a beautiful young woman to keep the king warm. They found a young woman named Abishag, from the town of Shunem, and brought her to the king. She was very beautiful. She cared for the king and served him, but King David did not have sexual relations with her.

5-6 Adonijah was the son of King David and his wife Haggith. He was born after Absalom. Adonijah was a very handsome man. King David never corrected his son Adonijah, and he never made him explain his actions. Adonijah became very proud and decided that he would be the next king. He wanted very much to be the king, so he got himself a chariot, horses, and 50 men to run ahead of him.

Adonijah talked with Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest. They decided to help make him the new king, but several important men did not join Adonijah. They were Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and King David’s special guard.[a]

One day, at Zoheleth Rock near En Rogel,[b] Adonijah sacrificed some sheep, cattle, and fat calves as a fellowship offering. He invited his brothers (the other sons of King David) and all the officers from Judah. 10 But he did not invite his brother Solomon, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, or the men in the king’s special guard.

Nathan Advises Bathsheba

11 When Nathan heard about this, he went to Solomon’s mother Bathsheba and asked her, “Have you heard what Haggith’s son, Adonijah, is doing? He is making himself king. And our master, King David, knows nothing about it. 12 You and your son Solomon are in danger, but I will tell you what to do to save yourself. 13 Go to King David and tell him, ‘My lord and king, you promised me that my son Solomon would be the next king after you. So why is Adonijah becoming the new king?’ 14 Then while you are still talking with him, I will come in. After you leave I will tell the king what has happened. This will show that what you said is true.”

15 So Bathsheba went in to see the king in his bedroom. The king was very old. Abishag, the girl from Shunem, was caring for him there. 16 Bathsheba bowed down before the king. The king asked, “What can I do for you?”

17 Bathsheba answered, “Sir, you used the name of the Lord your God and made a promise to me. You said, ‘Your son Solomon will be the next king after me. He will sit on my throne.’ 18 Now, you don’t know this, but Adonijah is making himself king. 19 He is giving a big fellowship meal. He has killed many cattle and the best sheep, and he has invited all of your sons to the meal. He also invited Abiathar the priest and Joab, the commander of your army, but he did not invite your faithful son Solomon. 20 Now, my lord and king, all the Israelites are watching you. They are waiting for you to decide who will be the next king after you. 21 If you don’t decide, then after you are buried, these men will say that Solomon and I are criminals.”

22 While Bathsheba was still talking with the king, Nathan the prophet came to see him. 23 The servants told the king, “Nathan the prophet is here.” Nathan went in to speak to the king. He bowed down before the king 24 and said, “My lord and king, did you announce that Adonijah will be the new king after you? Have you decided that he will rule the people now? 25 Today he went down into the valley to offer many cattle and the best sheep as fellowship offerings. He invited all your other sons, the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest. They are now eating and drinking with him. And they are saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he did not invite me, or Zadok the priest, or Benaiah son of Jehoiada, or your son Solomon. 27 My lord and king, did you do this without telling us? Please tell us, who will be the next king after you?”

28 Then King David said, “Tell Bathsheba to come in!” So she came in and stood before the king.

29 Then the king made a promise: “The Lord has saved me from every danger. As surely as he lives, I make this promise to you. 30 Today I will do what I promised you in the past. I made that promise by the power of the Lord, the God of Israel. I promised that your son Solomon would be the next king after me. I promised that he would take my place on my throne, and I will keep my promise!”

31 Then Bathsheba bowed down before the king and said, “Long live King David!”

Solomon Is Anointed King

32 Then King David said, “Tell Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada to come in here.” So the three men came in to meet with the king. 33 Then the king said to them, “Take my officers with you. Put my son Solomon on my mule and take him to Gihon Spring.[c] 34 There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet will anoint him to be the new king of Israel. Blow the trumpet and announce, ‘This is the new king, Solomon!’ 35 Then come back here with him. Solomon will sit on my throne and be the new king in my place. I have chosen him to be the ruler of Israel and Judah.”

36 Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! It is as true as if the Lord God himself had said it, my lord and king. 37 My lord and king, the Lord has been with you, and now I pray that he will be with Solomon! And I pray that King Solomon’s kingdom will grow and be even more powerful than yours, my lord and king.”

38 So Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah, and the king’s officers obeyed King David. They put Solomon on David’s mule and went with him down to Gihon Spring. 39 Zadok the priest carried the oil from the Holy Tent and poured it on Solomon’s head to show that he was the new king. They blew the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 Then all the people followed Solomon back into the city. They were very happy and excited. They were playing flutes and making so much noise that the ground shook.

41 Meanwhile, Adonijah and his guests were just finishing their meal. They heard the sound of the trumpet, and Joab asked, “What is that noise? What is happening in the city?”

42 While Joab was still speaking, Jonathan, son of Abiathar the priest, arrived. Adonijah said, “Come here! You are a good man,[d] so you must be bringing good news.”

43 But Jonathan answered, “No, it is not good news for you! King David has made Solomon the new king. 44 King David sent Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and all the king’s officers with Solomon out to Gihon Spring. They put Solomon on the king’s mule. 45 Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon at Gihon Spring and then went back into the city. The people followed them, and now everyone in the city is celebrating. That is the noise you hear. 46-47 Solomon is sitting on the king’s throne and the king’s officers are congratulating King David, saying, ‘King David, you are a great king!’ And now we pray that your God will make Solomon a great king too. We pray your God will make him even more famous than you. And we pray that his kingdom will be even greater than yours is! Even King David was there. From his bed, the king bowed before Solomon 48 and said, ‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel. He has put one of my own sons on my throne, and he has let me live to see it.’”

49 All of Adonijah’s guests were afraid and left very quickly. 50 Adonijah was also afraid of Solomon, so he went to the altar and held onto the horns of the altar. 51 Then someone told Solomon, “Adonijah is afraid of you, King Solomon. He is at the Holy Tent holding onto the horns of the altar, and he refuses to leave. Adonijah says, ‘Tell King Solomon to promise that he will not kill me.’”

52 So Solomon answered, “If Adonijah shows that he is a good man, I promise that not a hair on his head will be hurt. But if he does anything wrong, he will die.” 53 Then King Solomon sent some men to get Adonijah and brought him in. He approached the king and bowed before him. Then Solomon said, “Go home.”

King David Dies

The time came for David to die, so he gave these commands to Solomon, “I am about to die, like all men must. But you are growing stronger and becoming a man. Now, carefully obey all the commands of the Lord your God. Carefully obey all his laws, commands, decisions, and agreements. Obey everything that is written in the Law of Moses. If you do this, you will be successful at whatever you do and wherever you go. And if you obey the Lord, he will keep his promise about me. He said, ‘If your sons carefully live the way I tell them, sincerely, with all their heart, the king of Israel will always be a man from your family.’”

David also said, “You remember what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me. He killed two of the commanders of Israel’s army, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. Remember, it was during a time of peace when he spilled the blood that splattered onto his sword belt and army boots. I should have punished him then. Use your wisdom, but don’t let him die peacefully of old age.

“Also, be kind to the children of Barzillai from Gilead. Be friends with them, and let them eat at your table, because they helped me when I ran away from your brother Absalom.

“And remember, Shimei son of Gera is still around. He is the Benjamite from Bahurim who cursed me when I ran away to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I made a promise to him before the Lord that I would not kill him. Now, don’t leave him unpunished. You are a wise man. You will know what you must do, but don’t let him die peacefully of old age.”

10 Then David died and was buried in the City of David. 11 David ruled Israel 40 years. He ruled seven years in Hebron and 33 years in Jerusalem.

Solomon and Adonijah

12 Now Solomon was king. He sat on the throne of his father David and was in complete control of his kingdom.

13 One day Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba. She asked him, “Do you come in peace?”

Adonijah answered, “Yes, this is a peaceful visit. 14 I have something to ask you.”

Bathsheba said, “Then speak.”

15 Adonijah said, “You know that at one time the kingdom was mine. All the people of Israel wanted me to be their king. But things have changed, and now my brother is the king. The Lord chose him to be king. 16 But now I have one thing to ask you. Please don’t refuse me.”

Bathsheba answered, “What do you want?”

17 Adonijah said, “I know that King Solomon will do whatever you ask. So please ask him to let me marry Abishag, the woman from Shunem.”

18 Then Bathsheba said, “Very well, I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to talk with him. When the king saw her, he stood up, bowed before her, and then sat back down. He told some servants to bring another throne for his mother, and she sat down at his right side.

20 Bathsheba said to him, “I have one small thing to ask you. Please don’t refuse me.”

The king answered, “Ask whatever you want, mother. I will not refuse you.”

21 So Bathsheba said, “Let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the woman from Shunem.”

22 King Solomon answered his mother, “Why are you asking me to give Abishag to Adonijah? Why don’t you just ask me to give him the whole kingdom! After all, he is my older brother, and both Abiathar the priest and Joab support him!”

23 Then Solomon said, “By the Lord, I swear I’ll make Adonijah pay for this with his life! 24 The Lord made me the king of Israel. He gave me the throne of my father David. The Lord kept his promise and gave the kingdom to me and my family. Now, as surely as the Lord lives, I swear Adonijah will die today!”

25 King Solomon gave the command to Benaiah, and Benaiah went out and killed Adonijah.

26 Then King Solomon said to Abiathar the priest, “I should kill you, but I will let you go back to your home in Anathoth. I will not kill you now because you helped carry the Holy Box of the Lord God while marching with my father David. And I know that you shared in the hard times with my father.” 27 So Solomon told Abiathar that he could not continue to serve as a priest of the Lord. This happened as the Lord said it would when he told Eli the priest what would happen to him and his family.[e]

28 Joab had supported Adonijah, but not Absalom. But when Joab heard what happened to Abiathar, he was frightened and ran to the tent of the Lord to hold onto the horns of the altar. 29 Someone told King Solomon that Joab was at the altar in the Lord’s Tent. So Solomon ordered Benaiah to go and kill him.

30 Benaiah went into the Lord’s Tent and said to Joab, “The king says, ‘Come out!’”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

Benaiah went back to the king and told him what Joab had said. 31 The king commanded Benaiah, “Do as he says! Kill him there and take him out to bury him. Then my family and I will be free of Joab’s guilt from killing innocent people. 32 Joab killed two men who were much better than he was. He killed Abner son of Ner, the commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, the commander of the army of Judah. He did this without my father’s knowledge. But now the Lord will punish Joab for the men he killed. 33 He and his family will always be guilty for their deaths. But the Lord will bring peace to David, his descendants, his family of kings, and his kingdom forever.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada killed Joab, and he was buried near his home in the desert. 35 Solomon then made Benaiah son of Jehoiada the commander of the army in Joab’s place. Solomon also made Zadok the new high priest in Abiathar’s place. 36 Next, the king sent for Shimei and said to him, “Build yourself a house here in Jerusalem to live in and don’t leave the city. 37 If you leave the city and go any further than Kidron Brook, you will be killed, and it will be your own fault.”

38 Shimei answered, “Yes, my king. I will obey you.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time. 39 But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran away. They went to King Achish of Gath, who was the son of Maacah. Shimei heard that his slaves were in Gath, 40 so he saddled his donkey and went to King Achish at Gath to find them. He found them there and brought them back home.

41 But someone told Solomon that Shimei had left Jerusalem and gone to Gath and back. 42 So Solomon sent for him and said, “I made you promise in the Lord’s name not to leave Jerusalem. And I warned you that if you went anywhere, you would die. And you agreed to what I said. You said that you would obey me. 43 So why didn’t you obey me? Why did you break your promise to the Lord? 44 You know all the bad things you did to my father David. Now the Lord will punish you for it. 45 But the Lord will bless me and keep David’s throne before him forever.”

46 Then the king ordered Benaiah to kill Shimei, and he did. So Solomon had full control of his kingdom.


  1. 1 Kings 1:8 Shimei, Rei … guard Or “Shimei and his friends, the Heroes.”
  2. 1 Kings 1:9 En Rogel A spring of water in the valley south of Jerusalem, about 1/4 mile from Gihon Spring.
  3. 1 Kings 1:33 Gihon Spring A spring of water just outside the city walls in the valley east of Jerusalem. It was the main source of water for the city of Jerusalem.
  4. 1 Kings 1:42 good man Or “important man.” This Hebrew word means a person from an important family.
  5. 1 Kings 2:27 This … family See 1 Sam. 2:27-36.

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