1 Kings 1-4 Common English Bible (CEB)
David and Abishag
1 King David had become very old. His servants covered him with blankets, but he couldn’t stay warm. 2 They said to him, “Allow us to find a young woman for our master the king. She will serve the king and take care of him by lying beside our master the king and keeping him warm.” 3 So they looked in every corner of Israel until they found Abishag from Shunem. They brought her to the king. 4 She was very beautiful. She cared for the king and served him, but the king didn’t have sex with her.
5 Adonijah, Haggith’s son, bragged about himself and said, “I’ll rule as king myself.” He got his own chariot and horses with fifty runners to go in front. 6 Now Adonijah’s father had never given him direction; he never questioned why Adonijah did what he did. He was very handsome and was born after Absalom. 7 He took advice from Joab, Zeruiah’s son, and from the priest Abiathar. They assisted Adonijah. 8 But Zadok the priest, Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, the prophet Nathan, Shimei and his friends, and David’s veterans didn’t join Adonijah. 9 So Adonijah prepared lamb, oxen, and fattened cattle at the Stone of Zoheleth, next to En-rogel. He invited his brothers (the royal princes) and all the citizens of Judah who were the royal servants to come. 10 But he didn’t invite the prophet Nathan, Benaiah, David’s veterans, or his brother Solomon.
11 Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “Did you hear that Adonijah, Haggith’s son, has become king, but our master David doesn’t know about it? 12 Let me give you some advice on how you and your son Solomon can survive this. 13 Go to King David and say, ‘Didn’t my master the king swear to your servant, “Your son Solomon will certainly rule after me. He will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14 While you are speaking there with the king, I’ll come along and support your words.”
15 So Bathsheba went to the king in his bedroom. The king was very old, and Abishag from Shunem was serving the king. 16 Bathsheba bowed down on her face before the king.
The king asked, “What do you want?”
17 She said to him, “Your Majesty, you swore by the Lord your God to your servant, ‘Your son Solomon will certainly rule after me. He will sit on my throne.’ 18 But now, look, Adonijah has become king, and my master the king doesn’t know about it. 19 He has prepared large quantities of oxen, fattened cattle, and lamb. He has invited all the royal princes as well as Abiathar the priest and Joab the general. However, he didn’t invite your servant Solomon. 20 As for you, my master the king, the eyes of all Israel are upon you to tell them who will follow you on the throne of my master the king. 21 When my master the king lies down with his ancestors, then I and my son Solomon will become outlaws.”
22 While she was still speaking with the king, the prophet Nathan arrived. 23 The king was informed, “The prophet Nathan is here.” Then Nathan came in before the king and bowed his face to the ground. 24 He said, “My master the king, you must have said, ‘Adonijah will become king after me and will sit on my throne.’ 25 Indeed, today he went down and prepared oxen, fattened cattle, and lamb in large numbers. He invited all the royal princes, the generals, and Abiathar the priest. They are eating and drinking with him, and they said, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 Adonijah didn’t invite me, your servant, Zadok the priest, Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, or your servant Solomon. 27 If this message was from my master the king, you didn’t make it known to your servant. Who should follow you on the throne of my master the king?”
28 King David answered, “Bring me Bathsheba.” She came and stood before the king. 29 The king made a solemn pledge and said, “As surely as the Lord lives, who rescued me from every trouble, 30 regarding what I swore to you by the Lord, Israel’s God, ‘Your son Solomon will certainly succeed me; he will sit on the throne after me’—I’ll see that it happens today.”
31 Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground. She honored the king and said, “May my master King David live forever!”
32 King David said, “Bring me Zadok the priest, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son.” They came to the king, 33 who said to them, “Take with you the servants of your masters. Put my son Solomon on my mule and bring him down to Gihon. 34 There Zadok the priest and the prophet Nathan will anoint him king over Israel. Blow the ram’s horn and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 You will follow him. He will enter and sit on my throne, and so he will succeed me as king. I have appointed him to become ruler over Israel and Judah.”
36 Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son, responded to the king, “Yes, may it happen as the Lord, the God of my king, says. 37 Just as the Lord was with my master the king, so may he be with Solomon. May his throne be even greater than the throne of my master King David.” 38 Zadok the priest, the prophet Nathan, Jehoiada’s son Benaiah, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and put Solomon on King David’s mule. They led him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the ram’s horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 All the people followed him playing flutes and celebrating. The ground shook at their noise.
41 Adonijah and all his invited guests heard this when they had finished eating. When Joab heard the sound of the ram’s horn, he said, “What’s that noise coming from the city?” 42 While he was still speaking, Jonathan, Abiathar the priest’s son, arrived.
Adonijah said, “Come on in! You are an honest man and will bring a good report.”
43 Jonathan replied to Adonijah, “No! Our master King David has made Solomon king! 44 To support him, the king sent along Zadok the priest; the prophet Nathan; Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son; and the Cherethites and the Pelethites. They’ve put Solomon on the royal mule. 45 Zadok the priest and the prophet Nathan have anointed him king at Gihon. They went up from there celebrating so that the city was thrown into a commotion. That is the sound you heard. 46 There’s more: Solomon has taken over the throne of the kingdom. 47 The royal attendants blessed our master King David: ‘May your God make Solomon’s name better than your name. May God elevate his throne above your throne.’”
The king then worshipped on his bed 48 and said, “Bless Israel’s God, the Lord, who today has set my son[a] on my throne, and has allowed my eyes to see it.”
49 Trembling with fear, all of Adonijah’s guests got up and fled, each going a different way. 50 Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, so he got up and went to grab hold of the horns of the altar. 51 Solomon was told, “Look! Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and has grabbed the horns of the altar. He’s saying, ‘King Solomon must swear to me first that he won’t execute his servant with the sword.’”
52 Solomon said, “If he shows himself to be an honorable person, then not a hair of his head will be harmed. But if any evil is found in him, he will die.” 53 King Solomon sent word and had him brought down from the altar. He came and bowed down to King Solomon. Solomon said to him, “Go home!”
David’s last words
2 David’s time was coming to an end. So he commanded Solomon his son, 2 “I’m following the path that the whole earth takes. Be strong and be a man. 3 Guard what is owed to the Lord your God, walking in his ways and observing his laws, his commands, his judgments, and his testimonies, just as it is written in the Instruction from Moses. In this way you will succeed in whatever you do and wherever you go. 4 So also the Lord will confirm the word he spoke to me: ‘If your children will take care to walk before me faithfully, with all their heart and all their being, then one of your own children will never fail to be on the throne of Israel.’ 5 You should know what Joab, Zeruiah’s son, has done to me and what he did to the two generals of Israel, Abner, Ner’s son, and Amasa, Jether’s son. He murdered them, spilling blood at peacetime and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6 So act wisely: Don’t allow him to die a peaceful death. 7 As for Barzillai’s sons from Gilead, show them kindness. Let them eat with you. When I was running away from your brother Absalom, they came to me. 8 Now as for this Shimei, Gera’s son—a Benjaminite from Bahurim—who is with you, he cursed me viciously when I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, ‘Surely I won’t execute you with the sword.’ 9 But you don’t need to excuse him. You are wise and know what to do to him. Give him a violent death.”
10 Then David lay down with his ancestors and was buried in David’s City. 11 He ruled over Israel forty years—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.
Solomon secures his throne
12 Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his royal power was well established. 13 Adonijah, Haggith’s son, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. She said, “Are you coming in peace?”
He said, “Yes. 14 I have something to say to you.”
She said, “Say it.”
15 He said, “You know how the kingdom was mine. All Israel had appointed me as their king. Then suddenly the kingdom went to my brother as the Lord willed. 16 Now I have just one request of you. Don’t refuse me!”
She said to him, “Go on.”
17 Adonijah continued, “Ask King Solomon to let me marry Abishag from Shunem—he won’t refuse you.”
18 Bathsheba said, “Okay; I’ll speak to the king for you.”
19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to talk with him about Adonijah. The king stood up to meet her and bowed low to her. Then he returned to his throne and had a throne set up for the queen mother. She sat to his right. 20 She said, “I have just one small request for you. Don’t refuse me.”
The king said to her, “Mother, ask me. I won’t refuse you.”
21 “Let Abishag from Shunem be married to your brother Adonijah,” she said.
22 King Solomon replied to his mother, “Why ask only for Abishag from Shunem for Adonijah? Why not ask for the entire kingdom for him? After all, he is my older brother and has the support of Abiathar the priest and Joab, Zeruiah’s son.” 23 King Solomon swore by the Lord, “May God do to me as he sees fit! Adonijah has made this request at the cost of his life! 24 Now, as surely as the Lord lives—the one who supported me, put me on the throne of my father David, and provided a royal house for me exactly as he promised—Adonijah will be executed today.” 25 So King Solomon sent Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son. He attacked Adonijah, and Adonijah died.
26 The king said to the priest Abiathar, “Go to your fields at Anathoth, because you are a condemned man. However, I won’t kill you today because you carried the Lord’s chest in front of my father David and because you shared in all my father’s sufferings.” 27 So Solomon expelled Abiathar from the Lord’s priesthood in order to fulfill the Lord’s word that was spoken against Eli’s family at Shiloh.
28 Now the news reached Joab because he had supported Adonijah, though he hadn’t supported Absalom. Joab ran to the Lord’s tent and grabbed the horns of the altar. 29 King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the Lord’s tent and was now beside the altar. So Solomon sent Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son, instructing him, “Go. Attack Joab!”
30 Benaiah came to the Lord’s tent and said to Joab, “The king says, ‘Come out!’”
Joab said, “No! I’d rather die here.”
Benaiah sent a report back to the king: “This is what Joab said and how he answered me.”
31 The king said to him, “Do as he said. Attack him and then bury him. In doing this, you will remove from me and from my father’s royal house the guilt over the innocent blood that Joab shed. 32 May the Lord return that bloodguilt back on his own head for attacking the two men who were better and more righteous than he was. He murdered those two with the sword: Abner, Ner’s son and Israel’s general, and Amasa, Jether’s son and Judah’s general. But my father David didn’t know about it. 33 May the bloodguilt for their deaths return on Joab’s head and on the head of his family line forever. But may the Lord’s peace be on David, his family, and his royal house forever.” 34 So Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son, went and attacked Joab and killed him.
Joab was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 In his place, the king gave leadership of the army to Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son. The king put the priest Zadok in Abiathar’s position. 36 Then he sent for Shimei and said, “Build a house for yourself in Jerusalem and stay in the city. Don’t leave to go anywhere else. 37 If you try to leave, be advised that on the day you cross the Kidron Valley you will most certainly die. Your bloodguilt will be on your own head.”
38 Shimei said to the king, “This is a good idea. Your servant will do just what my master the king said.” So Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.
39 After three years, two of Shimei’s servants fled to the king of Gath, Achish, Maacah’s son. Shimei was informed, “Your servants are now in Gath.” 40 Shimei saddled his donkey and went to Achish in Gath to look for his servants. Shimei then brought his servants back from Gath. 41 Solomon was told that Shimei had left Jerusalem for Gath and then returned.
42 The king sent for Shimei and asked him, “Didn’t I make you swear a solemn pledge by the Lord? And didn’t I swear to you, ‘If you try to leave and go anywhere, be advised that on that very day you will most certainly die’? You said to me, ‘This is a good idea. I agree to it.’ 43 Why didn’t you keep your solemn promise to the Lord and the command that I gave you?” 44 The king said further, “You know quite well all the evil that you did to my father David. May the Lord return your evil on your own head. 45 However, may King Solomon be blessed and David’s throne be secure before the Lord forever.” 46 Then the king commanded Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son, who went and attacked Shimei, and he died.
In these ways royal power was handed over to Solomon.
Solomon first meets God
3 Solomon became the son-in-law of Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, when he married Pharaoh’s daughter. He brought her to David’s City until he finished building his royal palace, the Lord’s temple, and the wall around Jerusalem. 2 Unfortunately, the people were sacrificing at the shrines because a temple hadn’t yet been built for the Lord’s name in those days. 3 Now Solomon loved the Lord by walking in the laws of his father David, with the exception that he also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines.
4 The king went to the great shrine at Gibeon in order to sacrifice there. He used to offer a thousand entirely burned offerings on that altar. 5 The Lord appeared to Solomon at Gibeon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you.”
6 Solomon responded, “You showed so much kindness to your servant my father David when he walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you. You’ve kept this great loyalty and kindness for him and have now given him a son to sit on his throne. 7 And now, Lord my God, you have made me, your servant, king in my father David’s place. But I’m young and inexperienced. I know next to nothing. 8 But I’m here, your servant, in the middle of the people you have chosen, a large population that can’t be numbered or counted due to its vast size. 9 Please give your servant a discerning mind in order to govern your people and to distinguish good from evil, because no one is able to govern this important people of yours without your help.”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had made this request. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked for this instead of requesting long life, wealth, or victory over your enemies—asking for discernment so as to acquire good judgment— 12 I will now do just what you said. Look, I hereby give you a wise and understanding mind. There has been no one like you before now, nor will there be anyone like you afterward. 13 I now also give you what you didn’t ask for: wealth and fame. There won’t be a king like you as long as you live. 14 And if you walk in my ways and obey my laws and commands, just as your father David did, then I will give you a very long life.”
15 Solomon awoke and realized it was a dream. He went to Jerusalem and stood before the chest containing the Lord’s covenant. Then he offered entirely burned offerings and well-being sacrifices, and held a celebration for all his servants.
Solomon and the prostitutes
16 Sometime later, two prostitutes came and stood before the king. 17 One of them said, “Please, Your Majesty, listen: This woman and I have been living in the same house. I gave birth while she was there. 18 This woman gave birth three days after I did. We stayed together. Apart from the two of us, there was no one else in the house. 19 This woman’s son died one night when she rolled over him. 20 She got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I was asleep. She laid him on her chest and laid her dead son on mine. 21 When I got up in the morning to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the daylight, it turned out that it wasn’t my son—not the baby I had birthed.”
22 The other woman said, “No! My son is alive! Your son is the dead one.”
But the first woman objected, “No! Your son is dead! My son is alive!” In this way they argued back and forth in front of the king.
23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead.’ The other one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and my son is alive.’ 24 Get me a sword!” They brought a sword to the king. 25 Then the king said, “Cut the living child in two! Give half to one woman and half to the other woman.”
26 Then the woman whose son was still alive said to the king, “Please, Your Majesty, give her the living child; please don’t kill him,” for she had great love for her son.
But the other woman said, “If I can’t have him, neither will you. Cut the child in half.”
27 Then the king answered, “Give the first woman the living newborn. Don’t kill him. She is his mother.”
28 All Israel heard about the judgment that the king made. Their respect for the king grew because they saw that God’s wisdom was in him so he could execute justice.
4 King Solomon became king of all Israel.
2 These were his officials: the priest Azariah, Zadok’s son; 3 the scribes Elihoreph and Ahijah, the sons of Shisha; Jehoshaphat, the recorder, Ahilud’s son; 4 the general Benaiah, Jehoiada’s son; the priests Zadok and Abiathar; 5 Azariah, Nathan’s son, who was in charge of the officials; Zabud, Nathan’s son, a priest and royal friend; 6 Ahishar, who was in charge of the palace; and Adoniram, Abda’s son, who was supervisor of the work gangs.
7 Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel. They supplied the king and his palace with food. Each would provide the supplies for one month per year. 8 Here are their names:
Ben-hur in the highlands of Ephraim;
9 Ben-deker in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth-shemesh, and Elon-bethhanan;
10 Ben-hesed in Arubboth, who had Socoh and all the land of Hepher;
11 Ben-abinadab in all of Naphath-dor (Taphath, Solomon’s daughter, was his wife);
12 Baana, Ahilud’s son, in Taanach, Megiddo, and all Beth-shean beside Zarethan and below Jezreel, from Beth-shean to Abel-meholah and over to the region opposite Jokmeam;
13 Ben-geber in Ramoth-gilead, who controlled the villages of Jair, Manasseh’s son, which were in Gilead, and who had the Argob region that was in Bashan—sixty large walled cities with bronze bars;
14 Ahinadab, Iddo’s son, in Mahanaim;
15 Ahimaaz in Naphtali, who also took Solomon’s daughter Basemath as his wife;
16 Baana, Hushai’s son, in Asher and Bealoth;
17 Jehoshaphat, Paruah’s son, in
18 Shimei, Ela’s son, in Benjamin;
19 Geber, Uri’s son, in the land of Gilead, the land of the Amorite king Sihon and of King Og of Bashan;
and there was a single officer who was in the land of Judah.[b]
20 Judah and Israel grew numerous like the sand alongside the sea. They ate, drank, and celebrated.
21 [c] Solomon ruled over all the states from the Euphrates River through the Philistines’ land and as far as the border of Egypt. These areas brought tribute to Solomon and served him all the days of his life. 22 Solomon’s food requirements for a single day included thirty kors[d] of refined flour; sixty kors of flour; 23 ten head of grain-fattened cattle; twenty head of pastured cattle; one hundred sheep; as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks, and the best of fowl. 24 He ruled over all the lands west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and over all the kings west of the Euphrates. He had peace on all sides. 25 The people of Judah and Israel from Dan all the way to Beer-sheba lived securely under their vines and fig trees throughout the days of Solomon.
26 Solomon had forty thousand horse stalls for his chariots and twelve thousand additional horses. 27 The officials provided King Solomon and all who joined him at the royal table with monthly food rations. They left out nothing. 28 Each brought their share of barley and straw for the horses and for the chariot horses, bringing it to its proper place. 29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and very great understanding—insight as long as the seashore itself. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than all the famous Easterners, greater even than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone, more wise than Ethan the Ezrahite or Mahol’s sons: Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His reputation was known throughout the region. 32 Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs and one thousand five songs. 33 He described the botany of trees, whether the cedar in Lebanon or the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He also described cattle, birds, anything that crawls on the ground, and fish. 34 People came from everywhere to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; even the earth’s kings who had heard about his wisdom came!