1 Kings 1 Commentary


Solomon becomes king (1:1-53)

David was old and his health was failing. He needed a nurse with him continually, one of her duties being to lie with him in bed to give him warmth. Although this nurse, Abishag, was not David’s concubine, many people apparently thought she was (1:1-4; see note on 2:22).

Adonijah, David’s oldest surviving son, decided to establish himself as king while David was still alive, and so prevent any possible claim to the throne by Solomon later. Once he had gained the support of the senior priest Abiathar and the army commander Joab, Adonijah thought he could ignore the friends and advisers of David who favoured Solomon (5-10).

Those friends of David had more influence in the palace than Adonijah realized. Possibly the most important of them was the prophet Nathan, who apparently knew that God’s will was for Solomon to be the next king (cf. 2 Sam 7:12-17; 12:24-25; 1 Chron 22:6-10). Nathan quickly thought of a plan to prompt David to declare openly that Solomon was to succeed him as king (11-14). First Bathsheba told David what Adonijah had done (15-21), then Nathan asked David if he approved of Adonijah’s action (22-27). Shocked at what he heard, David declared that Solomon, not Adonijah, would be his successor (28-31).

Once roused to action, David was determined to see Solomon anointed and publicly proclaimed king (32-37). Solomon’s appointment seems to have won popular support. It also had the backing of David’s personal bodyguard of Cherethites and Pelethites, who were under the command of the tough Benaiah (38-40).


Adonijah’s celebrations were cut short when he heard what had happened (41-48). He realized that his claim to the throne now had little chance of success. Therefore, he decided that the wisest thing to do was to acknowledge Solomon as king in return for Solomon’s guarantee not to execute him (49-53).

The excitement of these events must have given David a sudden renewal of strength just before his death. He arranged a second anointing of Solomon, this time with full regal and religious ceremony, at which he presented Solomon to the people. He wanted them to see that Solomon was his divinely chosen successor (1 Chron 28:1-10; 29:20-22).

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