Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 24: Three Men & A Girl

1 Kings 2:13-17

New Living Translation (NLT)
© Jorge Royan / / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Solomon Establishes His Rule

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.
“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?” she asked.
15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”
“What is it?” she asked.
17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

I've mentioned my fascination with the women in scripture. Abishag seems to be a bit of a mystery. I've spent a couple of hours trying to research her, and it seems that everybody has an opinion pertaining to her. It is believed by most that she is the woman whom the Songs of Solomon is written about, and when I get to that book, I'll probably assume that perspective.

But for the sake of this story, we'll just stick to the facts at hand, and try not to inject too much of the many theories I've read. King David was really old, and so frail that no amount of blankets could keep the man warm. Thinking that the attentions of a young woman might warm him up, his most trusted servants went on the hunt for a beautiful virgin. They found Abishag, a Shunammite girl who was very beautiful. Jewish history sources say that she was a rare beauty, and compare her loveliness to that of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

She was brought to the king to serve as his personal attendant both in and out of bed, and although it is presumed that she did sleep in his bed, scripture is very clear that they were never intimate... which meant that she was still a virgin and still available for David's successor to take as a wife. That would be the only person who would have a rightful claim to her, because  being regarded as one of David's closest servants, only another king would be allowed to make use of her in any capacity.

The time was coming when David would need to abdicate the thrown, but he'd been dragging his heels about it. He had promised to appoint Solomon, his son with Bathsheba, and as far as I know that was probably common knowledge around town. But there was an older brother, who according to birthright, should have been next in line to be king, since he was the oldest living son. Like his brother Absalom, he figured he'd have to find some other way to get there, because he knew his dad wasn't going to just hand him the keys to the kingdom. He figured he'd get away with it though, because the Bible says that David had never disciplined him at all.

And like his brother, Adonijah used his wit and charm to gain popularity and get a whole lot of people on his side, including many of those who had served David in trusted positions during his entire reign. People like Joab, and Abiathar, who helped him conspire to take over. So he threw himself a party, and declared himself king.

Meanwhile, David still had many of his best buds firmly in his camp, and one of them, Nathan the prophet, went to Bathsheba to discuss how they could get David to relinquish the throne. It would have to be done quickly. So Bathsheba went to David and had a little talk with him that went something like this.

Bathsheba: "Hey honey, remember when you promised that our boy, Solomon, would take over the family business when you got too old to run it?

David: "Yes, I remember"

Bathsheba: "Well you'd better make good on your promise quick, because that spoiled kid you had with Haggith is throwing himself a coronation party as we speak. He's made sacrifices already, and he's invited everyone to attend... Everyone, that is, except for you, me, Solomon, Zadok or Benaiah."

About that time, Nathan comes in and interrupts...

Nathan: My lord, are you aware of what your kid is doing? He's down there partying and sacrificing animals with Joab and Abiathar, and a whole slew of other people, and they're all hailing him as the new king! You never did keep that boy in line, but you sure need to do something now!"

So David assured Bathsheba he would make good on his promise that day, and arranged for it to happen. He sent Solomon to Gihon Spring riding the kings own personal steed (the Bible refers to it as David's mule, but I've always imagined a beautiful Arabian horse.) Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the bodyguard went with him there and annointed him with olive oil. They blew the ram's horn, they shouted "long live the king" (King Solomon, that is), and then escorted him back to the palace where he took his place in daddy's chair. A long procession followed him back, playing flutes, shouting for joy, and making so much ruckus that the whole earth shook... and Adonijah and his little party heard the noise.

This not only scared Adonijah, it scared all those who were with him, too... like Joab and Abiathar. They all went slinking back to their homes, except for Adonijah, who went into the temple and grabbed hold of the horns of the altar, begging for his life. Solomon told him to go home, that he wouldn't kill him for what had happened earlier that day.

But Adonijah still had a card up his sleeve. He'd have been luckier if he'd had an ace, but all he had was a queen... kinda. He went to Bathsheba, and asked her to intercede on his behalf with her son, the newly crowned King. The scriptures make it sound like she was pretty indifferent to him, so I'll relate it that way.

Adonijah: "Hey there, Bathsheba. Can I talk to you a sec?"

Bathsheba: "Depends on whether you're trying to start trouble or not."

Adonijah: "No, I'm here peacefully, I just have a request, I thought you might intercede for me with Solomon."

Bathsheba:  (sigh) "What is it you want, Adonijah?"

Adonijah: "Well, you know that I should have been the next king. It was my birthright, and Israel wanted me, too. But for whatever reason, Dad decided to skip me and give the throne to Solomon. And I didn't protest, I didn't fight it. I could have done a lot of things, I could have fought for my rightful place, but I didn't. So fine, I'll accept that. It's what dad wanted. I just would like one little thing."

Bathsheba: (rolls her eyes) "And what exactly do you want in return for all that thoughtfulness?"

Adonijah: "I want to marry Abishag."

There it is... proof that he's still trying to find a back way in and claim  the throne. He knew that since his dad hadn't ever been intimate with her, that she wasn't off-limits to him... except for the king thing. Only a king could have what had belonged to the previous king. If his younger brother was foolish enough to grant his mother's request and extend such an olive branch to Adonijah, he would inadvertently give up his new position and give it to his older brother.

We don't know why Bathsheba agreed to make the request. I'm sure she knew of the rules that would prohibit such a thing. Perhaps this was her way of letting her son know that his older half-brother was still scheming against him. So she took the request to her son, and instead of granting the request, he had Adonijah executed that same day.

Who would have thought one pretty young virgin could have such an impact in one family?