1 Kings 1: Lessons and Applications To The Modern World

Introduction: Even when God’s Word describes ancient kingdoms, His Word is alive (Heb. 4:12) and has many applications to the modern world. This is especially true with the book of Kings. The original Hebrew text for first and second Kings were written on scrolls and considered one unified set of teachings. It was not until the Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, that the teachings were divided into two books for convenience. The books of Joshua through second Kings were also part of a group of teachings called the “former prophets”. These books all served the important purpose of demonstrating that God’s Word in the first five books of the Bible, the Torah or Pentateuch, always comes true.

Although the Jews believed by tradition that the prophet Jeremiah wrote these books, the author is never identified. Whoever the author was, his writings have been demonstrated to be both historically accurate and reliable. The books were most likely written sometime between the beginning of the Jewish exile in 561 B.C. and its end in 538 B.C. The two books chronicle approximately 385 years of Jewish history. The first book begins with the anointing of Solomon as king in 971 B.C. (1 Kgs. 1:38-40). Following Solomon’s reign, the first book then describes the division of the two kingdoms under Solomon’s son Rehoboam sometime between 931 and 930 B.C. (1 Kgs. 12:16). The first and second books then tell the story of the divided kingdoms and the apostasy of the northern Kingdom of Israel until its fall to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. (2 Kgs. 17:1-41). Following the apostasy of the Kingdom of Judah, the books conclude with Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II’s conquest and exile of the Jews in Judah in 586 B.C. (2 Kgs. 24:1-25:21). Yet, even though the books of first and second Kings have been shown to be accurate, they should not be viewed as mere historical documents. The causes of Israel’s decline and fall provide several important lessons for believers in the modern world.

1) The faith and righteousness of God’s leaders can result in His blessings for an entire nation. In the four books of the Law, God revealed at least 21 specific blessings for faithful and obedient nations. “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God:” (Dt. 28:1-2). In the Old Testament, God showed that He was faithful to keep His promises. For example, as a result of David’s faith and obedience, God allowed him to defeat the nations that surrounded Israel (2 Sam. 8). Likewise, during the first part of Solomon’s reign, he ruled in faith-led righteousness, and God blessed Israel with more territory, wealth, and power than it had ever experienced (1 Kgs. 2-10). God likewise blessed Judah during the righteous reigns of King Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 18:1-20:21) and King Josiah (2 Kgs. 22:1-23:30). Aside from Jesus’ free offer to forgive your sins and grant you eternal salvation (Eph. 2:8), God’s other conditional blessings are only available when His people are faithful and obedient. God provides the examples of David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah to show that He will also bless nations when their leaders are Spirit-led. Thus, the Church should help to promote Spirit-led leaders who can help lead the nations to places where God can pour out His blessings.

2) The idolatry and rebellion of God’s leaders can result in His curses for an entire nation. In Leviticus 26, God identified 14 curses that can happen to either an individual or a nation when they rebel against Him (Lev. 26:14-39). In Deuteronomy chapter 28, God also identified 40 additional progressively severe curses. “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” (Dt. 28:15, 16-68). During the time period of the kings of Israel, God again showed that He was faithful to keep His Word. During this time, most of God’s leaders adopted idolatry or rebelled against Him. For example, after many years of righteous rule, Solomon participated in idolatry after marrying multiple foreign wives. His idolatry is blamed for Israel’s division following his death (1 Kgs. 11:9-13). Jeroboam I later institutionalized idolatry in Israel by creating two golden calves and two shrines for the people to worship. He even told the people that these were the gods who delivered them from Egypt (1 Kgs. 12:28-30). King Ahab and Jezebel also prompted and supported the worship of the Canaanite god Baal in Israel (1 Kgs. 18:1-19:18). They threatened God’s prophets (1 Kgs. 18:1-6; 19:1-2), and they even hired 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kgs. 18:22). Their influence eventually corrupted Judah’s royal families (2 Kgs. 8:18, 25-27). As another example, King Manasseh adopted child sacrifices and brought judgement upon Judah (2 Kgs. 21:6). As a result of the idolatry and rebellion of the leaders of Israel and Judah, both the Israel and Judah suffered defeat at the hands of foreign invaders and were sent into exile (2 Kgs. 17:7-41; 24:1-25:21). As a result of the sins of God’s leaders and His people, the Jews lost the lands that God promised to Abraham for many years (Gen. 12:7; 15:1-16). During this time, they also lost the ability to conduct proper sacrifices for their sins at God’s appointed Temple. David’s human dynasty of kings also came to an end. From the examples of these rebellious leaders, God warns that He can also remove His protections when the nations select leaders who reject His Word or rebel against Him. Thus, if the Church ignores evil government leaders, the nations will all suffer.

3) Because all leaders will sin, believers should place their hope in Jesus, not in their leaders. Through the failed example of Israel’s and Judah’s many kings, God warned His people to trust in Him and not in human leaders for their deliverance. “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” (Ps. 118:9). “O give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain.” (Ps. 60:11). It is common during elections in western nations for people to put their hopes in one political party or in one candidate. It is important to care about who is elected. A Spirit-led leader can lead a nation into God’s blessings, and a rebellious leader can lead a nation into God’s curses. Yet, like every other person, human leaders will sin (Ro. 3:23). Thus, you should never place your hopes in leaders. Instead, place your hope in Jesus (1 Tim. 6:17).

4) Out of mercy and grace, God will never leave nor forsake His rebellious people. Sin would cause God to limit the extent of His blessings. But He would never permanently remove them. For example, God promised an eternal covenant with a line of kings running through David (2 Sam. 7:13, 16). He also made an eternal land covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-9). With the exceptions of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah, all of the kings rebelled and displeased God. Israel’s and Judah’s many sins limited the full extent of God’s blessings. Some will only be realized through the eternal promises offered through Jesus. Yet, to keep His covenants, God also spared Israel from permanent destruction out of mercy and grace (1 Kgs. 11:12-13; 15:3-5). From these examples, God wants you to know that sin will never cause Him to leave you or forsake you (Dt. 31:8; Heb. 13:5). God may convict you of your sins to bring you to repentance. But He has no desire to condemn you or forsake you.

5) To guide His lost people, God sent His prophets to pave the way for His Messiah Jesus. Because He loves His people, God sent prophets to guide His people when His leaders went astray. Some of the most important prophets during this time period included Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, and Huldah. Unlike the many false prophets who opposed them, God’s true prophets only spoke His Word. And with every prophecy uttered by His prophets, God’s Word came to pass (2 Kings 17:5-6; 25:1-11). Through their righteous examples, the prophets during the time period of the kings set the stage for the prophets during exile, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who would prepare the people for the coming Messiah, Jesus. Today, God has left you with His Word and His Spirit to guide you when your leaders embrace evil and lead the nations astray.

6) To obtain spiritual restoration, identify and reject the counterfeit and then turn back to God. During the time period of the kings, there were false prophets who appeared at the same time as the real prophets. To find God’s blessings and restoration, the Jews had to identify and reject Satan’s counterfeit prophets. This followed a familiar pattern in the Bible. The counterfeit line of Cain preceded the righteous line of Seth. The counterfeit line of Ishmael preceded the righteous line of Isaac. The counterfeit line of Esau also preceded the righteous line of Jacob / Israel. The false messiah will also one day precede the true Messiah. After identifying and rejecting the counterfeit, the Jews then had to turn to God in humility before He would restore them. “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14). In life, there will be many corrupt leaders who will appear righteous by their acts. You must learn to test all things through the Word and the Spirit to avoid being led astray (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Jo. 4:1). God’s righteousness will appear foolish to the world (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14). The Church must carefully guard itself from false doctrines and apostasy.

7) Turning back to God requires that you fully reject the things of the world. One of the biggest challenges that the Jews faced was fully rejecting the things of the world. The prophets advised God’s people not to accommodate the idols of the world. Joshua previously told the Jews that they had to decide who they would serve (Josh. 24:15). Through the prophet Samuel, God again commanded the Jews to “serve Him alone;” (1 Sam. 7:3). This meant that they could not hold onto any divided allegiance in their hearts. In the first book of Kings, the divided kingdom symbolized people’s divided allegiances. People thought it was acceptable to mix their religious views about Yahweh with the Canaanite religious practices. But Elijah warned the people to choose between Yahweh and Baal: “Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.” (1 Kgs. 18:21). The people could not have divided allegiances between the things of the world and God. When the people would not listen, the righteous prophets warned of the demise of Israel and Judah. Jesus later told His believers that they needed to also choose who they would serve because they could not have two masters: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13). Today, the “tolerance movement” demands that worldly views be deemed equal to or superior to God’s Word. It may be politically unacceptable to view God’s Word as the final arbitrator of truth. Yet, even if it makes you unpopular, that is what God expects of you.

1 Kings 1: Lessons from Solomon’s Assent to Become King of Israel Regarding the Character Traits of Spirit-Led Leaders

Introduction: 1 Kings begins with the battle to succeed David in his final days. David’s fourth son Adonijah conspired with others to seize power. But his coup d'état failed because he was motivated by selfish pride, and it was God’s will for Solomon to succeed David. From Adonijah’s failed coup and God’s anointing of Solomon, God reveals seven characteristics of His anointed leaders. God’s leaders should show their anointing by being: (1) humble, (2) selfless, (3) submissive to Him, (4) obedient, (5) Spirit-led, (6) God-fearing, and (7) merciful.

First, Adonijah tried to seize power because he was filled with pride, and he did not think that David could oppose him in his elderly and decrepit state. From Adonijah’s mistake, God reveals that His anointed leaders should be humble and not filled with pride. Second, Adonijah found co-conspirators for his coup who were motivated by personal gain. From their mistakes, God reveals that His leaders should be selfless and not motivated by selfish personal gain. Third, because David had repeatedly failed to stand up to his wayward sons, the prophet Nathan and Bathsheba exhorted David to follow God’s prior instructions to anoint Solomon as the next king. From their exhortation, God reveals that His leaders should submit in faith to His Word. Fourth, where David failed in the past to take action against his wayward sons, he showed his faith-led obedience by ordering a priest and God’s prophet Nathan to anoint Solomon as the next king. From David’s example, God reveals that His leaders should be obedient to His Word. Fifth, Solomon’s anointing required that he be covered in oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. From his example, God reveals that His leaders should always be led by the Holy Spirit. Sixth, when Adonijah heard that David had selected Solomon to be king and had him anointed, he became filled with fear. Because of his rebellion, he feared Solomon’s judgment. From Adonijah’s mistakes, God reveals that His leaders should fear Him by hating evil. Finally, Solomon showed mercy and love by sparing Adonijah’s life. Adonijah had nothing to fear as long as he did not rebel again. From Solomon’s example, God’s leaders should be merciful and love their enemies.

1. Humility: God’s Anointed Leaders Should be Humble. 1 Kgs. 1:1-6.

  • In David’s weakened state, Adonijah exalts himself. Just before his death and with his health failing, David’s son Adonijah declared that he would be king: “1 Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm. So his servants said to him, ‘Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm.’ So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her. Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king.’ So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him. His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done so?’ And he was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom.” (1 Kgs. 1:1-6). David’s total reign as king lasted 40 years (2 Sam. 3:3). These events took place at the very end of his reign and his life, when he was 70 years old (2 Sam 5:4-5). Both David’s traumatic life and his many sins took a toll on his health (Ps. 32:3-4). His body could no longer regulate his temperature. Blankets would not allow him to become warm. As a reflection of the medical thinking of that time, his advisors had a young woman lie with him in a non-sexual way to create warmth for him: “Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?” (Ecc. 4:11). The Jewish historian Josephus recorded the existence of this practice during the first century A.D. The Greek physician Galen also recorded the existence of this practice during the second century A.D. But God was never asked for His opinion. Human tradition should never be mistaken for God’s will. The most important fact from this text is that Adonijah took advantage of David’s weakened and failing health by planning to seize the throne.

Like Absalom, Adonijah prepared chariots and men to seize power from King David1

  • Adonijah seized the throne because he was prideful and coveted power. Adonijah conspired to take power from David in his weakened state because his pride would not allow his youngest half-brother Solomon to become king. Amnon was David’s first-born and the original heir to the throne (2 Sam. 3:2). But Absalom murdered Amnon as an act of revenge after Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar (2 Sam. 13:28-29). The second oldest son Chileab would have been the next heir (2 Sam. 3:3). Yet, his name is never recorded again following his birth. This suggests that he died at an early age or became disqualified. Absalom was David’s third son and heir to the throne after Amnon (2 Sam. 3:3). Yet, Joab killed Absalom after he led a rebellion against David (2 Sam. 18:14-15). By the world’s standards of male succession to the throne, Adonijah was next in line as David’s fourth son. His mother was Haggith (2 Sam. 3:4). His name translated as “Yah is my lord.” But by his actions, Satan was his real lord. Like his older brothers, he was filled with vanity and pride. He had heard that David planned to name Solomon as king (1 Chron. 22:6-13). He even knew that God had decreed this: “So he said, ‘You know that the kingdom was mine and that all Israel expected me to be king; however, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD.’” (2 Kgs. 2:15). Yet, Solomon was the youngest son and David’s son through Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:24). He felt that he was better than Solomon, and he felt the kingdom should not go to what he viewed as a bastard son. Thus, he followed Absalom’s example by seizing power. He even copied Absalom by creating the image of power with 50 men running before him: “1 Now it came about after this that Absalom provided for himself a chariot and horses and fifty men as runners before him.” (2 Sam. 15:1).

  • Pride is one of the sins that God “hates”. Through his pride, Adonijah committed one of the sins that God “hates”: “ . . . pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.” (Prov. 8:13). Adonijah’s pride would later lead to his destruction: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). “A man’s pride will bring him low, . . .” (Prov. 29:23). His pride also deceived him into thinking that he was doing the right thing by assuming the throne: ‘“ . . . The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,’ . . . declares the LORD.” (Jer. 49:16). Like Adonijah, when you feel you are better than others, your heart will also deceive you into doing foolish things.

  • Adonijah became a spoiled prince because David did not discipline him. David did not discipline Adonijah after learning of his rebellion (1 Kgs. 1:6). David also took no action to discipline Amnon after he found out that he had raped his half-sister Tamar (2 Sam. 13:19-27). He also took no action to discipline Absalom when he murdered Amnon out of revenge (2 Sam. 13:30-36). He also initially took no action against Absalom when he incited others into rebellion (2 Sam. 15:1-12). By withholding discipline from Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, David created spoiled children who only thought for themselves (Prov. 13:14). “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecc. 8:11). In the end times, God warns that people will become selfish like Adonijah in dealing with others: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2). “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21; 1 Cor. 10:24). Are you teaching your children by your example to be selfless or selfish in dealing with others?

  • David’s discipline would have shown his true love for Adonijah. To prevent Adonijah and his other sons from sinning, David needed to discipline them to correct their wayward behavior. God uses His leaders as His “avengers” to administer His justice (Rom. 13:4). This includes parents. As our example, God the Father administers spiritual discipline out of love to correct wayward behavior: “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son who He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” ” (Heb. 12:6-7). “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19). “For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights . . . He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Prov. 3:12, 24). “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5). “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4). Because Adonijah and his brothers were princes of Israel, their punishment also had to be more severe because they should have known the law. They also had to be an example to others: “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.” (Lk. 12:47-8; 1 Cor. 11:32). Although no one likes to be disciplined, you can draw comfort when you receive discipline because it shows that God is trying to mold your behavior out of love for you to conform to His will: “I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). Are you disciplining your children to mold them for God’s use?

  • Without Spirit-led leadership, children will do what feels right to them. God warns that without leaders who will teach and administer God’s law, people will embrace their own morality: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 21:25; 17:6). Adonijah did not think highly of David’s choice for king. Thus, he did what seemed right in his own eyes, and he embraced evil. If you fail to teach your children God’s laws, they may also do what feels right in their own eyes.

2. Selfless: God’s Leaders Should Not be Motivated by Personal Gain. 1 Kgs. 1:7-10.

  • David’s trusted advisors conspire with Adonijah against Solomon for selfish gain. Like his brother Absalom, Adonijah’s rebellion gained steam after he enlisted the assistance of David’s top advisors: “7 He had conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest; and following Adonijah they helped him. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not with Adonijah. Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fatlings by the stone of Zoheleth, which is beside En-rogel; and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants. 10 But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, and Solomon his brother.” (1 Kgs. 1:7-10). Adonijah did not invite Zadok, who had faithfully served as High Priest as far back as under Saul when the tabernacle was kept at Gibeon (1 Chr. 16:39). He then again faithfully served as a High Priest under David (2 Sam. 8:17). Adonijah also did not invite Benaiah, one of David’s “mighty men” who was recognized for his bravery in killing the two sons of Ariel from Moab and killing a lion in a pit (2 Sam. 23:20). Adonijah also did not invite the prophet Nathan, God’s spokesperson and David’s most trusted advisor (2 Sam. 7:2-17; 12:1-15, 25). Thus, Adonijah excluded God’s representatives and David’s representatives from his self-anointing as king. Moreover, he formed the sacrifices at the pagan “stone of Zoheleth” instead of the altar at the tabernacle. In addition to copying Absalom’s use of 50 men to create the appearance of royalty, Adonijah copied Absalom’s decision to perform his own sacrifices at his self-coronation: “And Absalom . . . was offering the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom.” (2 Sam. 15:12). Even if either rebellion were proper, it was the role of the priests and not the kings to perform the sacrifices. Both showed that they would not have shared power with the priest as God required. Both men used these illegal ceremonies to elicit vows of loyalty. Finally, by excluding Solomon, Adonijah demonstrated that he was aware that Solomon had already been selected to be king.

  • Adonijah conspired with some of David’s closest advisors. Each of Adonijah’s co-conspirators supported him out of a desire for personal gain or power. First, Adonijah conspired with Joab, the chief army commander (2 Sam. 8:16). He was also David’s nephew (1 Chr. 2:16). Joab was a man driven by his flesh. He was guilty of at least four murders. First, he murdered a general named Abner after Abner switched sides in Israel’s civil war to support David (2 Sam. 3:6-11). Joab could not forgive Abner and was filled with vengeance because he killed Joab’s brother Asahel in battle (2 Sam. 2:18-24; 3:26-30). Second, Joab participated in Uriah’s murder and the coverup of his death (2 Sam. 11:14-25). Third, he later violated David’s orders and murdered David’s son Absalom after he was caught hanging by a tree (2 Sam. 18:11-15). Finally, driven by jealousy, Joab later deceived and then murdered his rival Amasa (2 Sam. 20:8-10). He even once used a fake widow’s deception to trick David (2 Sam. 14:1-121). Thus, Joab was an opportunist. He must have perceived Adonijah as ruthless enough to seize power. He calculated that he would lose his own power if he sided with Solomon. He might have also sided with Absalom if Absalom had not burned Joab’s fields merely to gain an audience with David (2 Sam. 14:30). Adonijah also conspired with Abiathar, a second High Priest who served with Zadok during David’s reign (2 Sam. 8:17). He may have sought to consolidate his power in the next administration. Both likely justified their actions by reasoning that Adonijah was the eldest son who should have been next in line to be king. Moreover, Solomon was the offspring of an adulterous marriage between David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:24). By the world’s standards, Solomon would not be a proper heir. But they should not have used worldly standards to determine God’s will: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Is. 55:8). Their selfish ambition and greed blinded them to God’s will.

  • God does not follow the traditions of mankind. Just as David’s advisors did not consider David’s youngest son Solomon to be worthy of becoming king, David’s father Jesse also did not consider David, his youngest son, important enough to even meet with Samuel (1 Sam. 16:6-11). As one commentator notes, “Other men who were not firstborn but who were selected by the Lord over their more socially powerful older brothers include Seth, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Moses and perhaps Abraham.” (Robert Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, The New American Commentary, Vol. 7, B&H Publishing Group (1996) p. 121). Thus, you should never rely upon human tradition in deciding God’s will. Instead, you must rely upon His Word and His Spirit.

  • Absalom also swayed the elite in David’s time. By swaying Joab and Abiathar to his side, Adonijah also likely copied how Absalom swayed David’s close advisor Ahithopel, a man considered to be one of the wisest men in Israel (2 Sam. 16:23). By enticing them to switch sides and support him, Adonijah likely played upon the emotions of Joab and Abiathar the same way that Absalom played upon Ahithophel’s emotions. He was Bathsheba’s grandfather (2 Sam. 11:3; 23:34) and likely resented David for his adultery with Bathsheba. Joab and Abiathar likely resented him as well. Both Joab and Abiathar knew that Absalom’s rebellion ended in failure. Yet, because David was now an elderly invalid, they most likely believed that Adonijah’s rebellion would be different.

  • Satan will also deceive the elect during the end times. Just as Absalom and Adonijah deceived many leaders, Satan will deceive the elect during the end times: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matt. 24:24; Mk. 13:22). “that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,” (2 Thess. 2:9). Absalom and Adonijah were both handsome leaders (2 Sam. 14:25; 1 Kgs. 1:6). Thus, you must not judge a leader by their outward appearances. Instead, test every leader and their beliefs to make sure that they are following God’s Word. You will know if a leader is a God-fearing person by his or her fruits (Matt. 7:16).

  • The fulfillment of God’s prophecy against David. Adonijah’s rebellion fulfilled a prophecy that God gave to the prophet Nathan after David’s adultery and murder: ‘“Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household;’ . . .” (2 Sam. 12:10-11(a)). Those who sow the seeds of conflict will reap the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7).

  • A successful rebellion also requires deceit. Adonijah secretly planned his coup. Like Adonijah, a person seeking to stir up a rebellion often seeks to incite the people through lies or deceit. Korah, for example, accused Moses of exalting himself over the entire congregation (Nu. 16:3). This was a lie. Moses did not want to lead the people at all (Ex. 3:10-4:13). Two other conspirators, Dathan and Abiram, also lied when they accused Moses of leading the people away from the Promised Land (Nu. 16:14). Moses merely warned that God would not be amongst them if they tried to enter the Promised Land because of their rebellion (Nu. 14:42-43). Any type of deceit, especially from a leader, is evil in God’s eyes: “Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, much less are lying lips to a prince.” (Prov. 17:7). “They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.” (Ps. 12:2). “His mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression; under his tongue is mischief and wickedness.” (Ps. 10:7). “For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.” (Ps. 109:2). “Lying lips are detestable to the LORD, but faithful people are His delight.” (Prov. 12:22). If you are using deceit, you are using the devil’s tactics.

  • Absalom and Adonijah were like counterfeit Christ’s. Through their evil schemes against their father, Absalom and Adonijah were like the false messiah, who will plot evil schemes against the Father: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Ro. 16:17-18). God “will condemn a man who devises evil.” (Prov. 12:2(b)). God provides these examples to warn that Satan will use the same schemes to deceive government leaders. Thus, you must test every leader who seeks to lead you.

  • Satan’s plans to use deceit to turn people against Jesus. Like Absalom and Adonijah, Satan seeks to deceive mankind. For many, he has become either the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the prince of this world” (Jo. 12:31), or the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Any time you refuse to submit to God, you let Satan rule over your life. But if you have accepted Christ as your Lord you need not fear. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 Jo. 4:4). Thus, even though he can cause you pain, the Holy Spirit inside you can protect you from any evil scheme that Satan may try to inflict upon you.

3. Submissive: God’s Leaders Should Submit in Faith to His Word. 1 Kgs. 1:11-27.

  • Bathsheba and Nathan exhort David to keep God’s Word and anoint Solomon as king. After learning of Adonijah’s acts to anoint himself as king, the prophet Nathan and Bathsheba worked together to prompt David to honor his commitment to anoint Solomon as the next king of Israel: “11 Then Nathan spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it? 12 So now come, please let me give you counsel and save your life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘Have you not, my lord, O king, sworn to your maidservant, saying, ‘Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then has Adonijah become king?’” 14 ‘Behold, while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.’ 15 So Bathsheba went in to the king in the bedroom. Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was ministering to the king. 16 Then Bathsheba bowed and prostrated herself before the king. And the king said, ‘What do you wish?’ 17 She said to him, ‘My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God, saying, ‘Surely your son Solomon shall be king after me and he shall sit on my throne.’ 18 Now, behold, Adonijah is king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know it. 19 He has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king and Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. 20 As for you now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21 Otherwise it will come about, as soon as my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be considered offenders.’ 22 Behold, while she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet came in. 23 They told the king, saying, ‘Here is Nathan the prophet.’ And when he came in before the king, he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. 24 Then Nathan said, ‘My lord the king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne’? 25 For he has gone down today and has sacrificed oxen and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons and the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest, and behold, they are eating and drinking before him; and they say, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But me, even me your servant, and Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and your servant Solomon, he has not invited. 27 Has this thing been done by my lord the king, and you have not shown to your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”’ (1 Kgs. 1:11-27). Nathan was the one who conveyed God’s eternal covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:8-17). Thus, he knew God’s will. God had also declared that it was His will for Solomon to serve as the next king (1 Chr. 22:9-10). Although David’s relationship with Bathsheba was originally born out of lust and adultery (2 Sam. 11), God granted them mercy and grace. And she became very close to David as his queen. Nathan warned Bathsheba that both her life and Solomon’s life were in danger if Adonijah consolidated his power as king (1 Kgs. 1:12). While David showed mercy to rivals to the throne, Adonijah would not do the same. He was an evil man who would follow the ways of the world by killing his rivals.

Govert Flinck (1615-1660) “Bathsheba Makes an Appeal to David” (oil canvas 1651)2

  • God is sovereign, and His will cannot be changed by mankind. As God’s prophet, Nathan reminded David that His covenant with David ran through Solomon, not Adonijah: ‘“Behold, a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.”’ (1 Chr. 22:9-10). God’s prophesy shows that He is sovereign and has control over kings, nations, and all time. Adonijah could not usurp God’s will. Daniel explained: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.” (Da. 2:21). “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). Even in hard times, do you trust that God is fully in control?

  • God picked Israel’s King to serve the King of Kings. When Moses prophesied of the day when Israel would demand a king, he warned that God as the King of Kings would select the kings: “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman.” (Dt. 17:17). Moses gave this counsel so that no king would boast that he became king based upon his own merit. The people previously wanted Saul as king because they wanted to be “like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5). Yet, God wants His people to be set apart to serve Him, not themselves.

4. Obedient: God’s Leaders Should be Obedient to His Word. 1 Kgs. 1:28-37.

  • David is obedient to God’s Word and anoints Solomon king. Although David was a sinner, he was faithful to keep his vows after being reminded of God’s Word: “28 Then King David said, “Call Bathsheba to me.” And she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. 29 The king vowed and said, ‘As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, 30 surely as I vowed to you by the Lord the God of Israel, saying, ‘Your son Solomon shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place’; I will indeed do so this day.’ 31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and prostrated herself before the king and said, ‘May my lord King David live forever.’ 32 Then King David said, ‘Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.’ And they came into the king’s presence. 33 The king said to them, ‘Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34 Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne and be king in my place; for I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.’ 36 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, ‘Amen! Thus may the Lord, the God of my lord the king, say. 37 As the Lord has been with my lord the king, so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David!”’ (1 Kgs. 1:28-37). After being reminded of his prior oath (1 Chr. 22:9-10), David vowed to uphold his oath to make Solomon the next king (1 Kgs. 1:29-30). David did not just reaffirm his vow because he made it. He reaffirmed his vow because he recognized that it was the will of God his “redeemer” (1 Kgs. 1:29). Through the Holy Spirit, Bathsheba blessed David with God’s promise of eternal life for his faithfulness (1 Kgs. 1:31). David then demonstrated his obedience by quickly assembling his loyal priest Zadok, his prophet Nathan, and Benaiah the captain of his guards, to officially anoint Solomon as king (1 Kgs. 1:32-34). By entrusting the priest and prophet to conduct the official anointing, David put his faith in God and not in himself to control the succession. Both before David and after him, God identified His chosen kings through His prophets, not through His kings (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13; 1 Kgs. 11:37; 15:28-29; 16:12; 2 Kgs. 9:3).

Arent de Gelder (1645-1727) David’s promise to Bathsheba (oil painting 1685-90)3

  • Obedience was a central principle of the Old Testament. Moses repeatedly stressed the importance of obedience: “You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.” (Dt. 5:33; 4:1, 40; 5:29; 6:3; 10:12; 12:28). David likewise stressed the importance of obedience: “I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts.” (Ps. 119:141). “The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten Your law.” (Ps. 119:61). Solomon also implored others to be obedient: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;” (Prov. 3:1). Just as David learned through his mistakes the importance of obedience, Jesus also wants you to be obedient to Him.

  • If you love Jesus, show it through your obedience to Him and His Word. Many Christians correctly point out that Jesus’ work on the cross made any further acts of obedience unnecessary to achieve salvation (Gal. 2:21). Obedience is instead a voluntary act that shows that you are sanctified and set apart for Him. Jesus is the great “I AM” who gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Jo. 8:58; Ex. 3:14). He warned: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jo. 14:15). “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (Jo. 14:21). “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (Jo. 14:23). “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” (Jo. 15:10). “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 2:3). If you claim to love Jesus, you cannot openly disobey His Ten Commandments.

  • Be faithful because God is faithful to you. David’s faith led to his obedience, even though he hated confronting his wayward sons. In response to God’s faithfulness, He also wants you to be faithful as well. “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” (2 Cor. 5:7). “A faithful man will abound with blessings, . . .” (Prov. 28:20(a)). “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5). “but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:9). Because God is faithful to keep His promises to you, respond by being faithful to Him.

  • In response to David’s faithfulness, God extended Solomon’s power. In response to David’s obedience, Benaiah prophetically proclaimed that Solomon’s reign would extend in power beyond that of David: “make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David!”’ (1 Kgs. 1:37). God later fulfilled His promise by making Solomon’s kingdom the greatest in wealth, power, and influence that Israel would ever experience.

5. Spirit-led: God’s Leaders Should Always be Led by the Holy Spirit. 1 Kgs. 1:38-40.

  • Solomon is anointed God’s next king, and the people celebrate. Just as David was faithful to keep his vows, the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah were faithful to keep their vows in anointing Solomon: “38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 All the people went up after him, and the people were playing on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise.” (1 Kgs. 1:38-40). Benaiah led the Cherethites and the Pelethites (2 Sam. 8:18). The Cherethites and the Pelethites were gentiles who faithfully served under David. The priest anointed Solomon in the tent that David set up to house the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6:17; 1 Chr. 15:1). By submitting to the anointing through oil at the altar, Solomon demonstrated his willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit as king. In response, the people celebrated. Because God was with him, he gained the support of all the people of Israel: “Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father; and he prospered, and all Israel obeyed him.” (1 Chr. 29:23).

Solomon is anointed and crowned as King of Israel4

  • Be anointed with the Spirit. Oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13). Samuel previously used oil to anoint Saul as king (1 Sam. 10:1). He also used oil to anoint David as king (1 Sam. 16:13). Moses also poured oil on Aaron’s head to consecrate Him. “Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.” (Lev. 8:12). “Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.” (Ex. 29:7). When Christ began His ministry, He was dunked into the Jordan river (Matt. 3:13-15). The oil being poured onto the heads of kings and priests symbolized the complete immersion of the Spirit, like a baptism. Although human hands applied the oil, it was God who then anointed these leaders: “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him,” (Ps. 89:20). Believers should also be anointed by the Spirit in all that they do: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.” (1 Jo. 2:20). “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God,” (1 Cor. 1:21). “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Ro. 8:14). Are your actions in life anointed?

  • Like David, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. Isaiah also prophesied that the Messiah would be filled with the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” (Is. 11:2). Jesus fulfilled this prophecy: “John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.’” (Jo. 1:32; Matt. 3:16; Mk. 1:10; Lk. 3:22). He also promises to fill you with the Holy Spirit to allow you to also do mighty things for Him (Jo. 14:16; 15:26; Acts 1:4; 5:32). With His Spirit, will you act boldly in the Spirit for the Kingdom of Heaven?

  • Solomon’s entrance on David’s mule symbolized his right to succeed David. Each of David’s sons had a mule (Sam. 13:29). A mule is a crossbred animal, and God’s law prohibited the crossbreeding of animals (Lev. 19:19). Thus, any mule was imported. Many believe that they were used as symbols of royalty, despite God’s prohibition on crossbreeding. By having Solomon ride into Jerusalem on David’s mule (1 Kgs. 1:33, 38), David symbolized that Solomon was David’s successor.

  • Solomon’s entrance on a mule foreshadowed Jesus. Solomon’s entrance on a mule foreshadowed Jesus. Yet, because Jesus came to fulfill the law, the prophet Zechariah stated that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem on a donkey, not a mule which was prohibited under God’s law: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech. 9:9). Jesus later fulfilled this prophecy: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (Jo. 12:15; Matt. 21:5).

6. God-Fearing: God’s Leaders Should Fear Him by Hating Evil. 1 Kgs. 1:41-50.

  • Adonijah and his co-conspirators learn of Solomon’s anointing and are filled with fear. After discovering that David had selected Solomon to become the next king, Adonijah and those who sided with him became filled with fear: “41 Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, ‘Why is the city making such an uproar?’ 42 While he was still speaking, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came. Then Adonijah said, ‘Come in, for you are a valiant man and bring good news.’ 43 But Jonathan replied to Adonijah, ‘No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king. 44 The king has also sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites; and they have made him ride on the king’s mule. 45 Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon, and they have come up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise which you have heard. 46 Besides, Solomon has even taken his seat on the throne of the kingdom. 47 Moreover, the king’s servants came to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon better than your name and his throne greater than your throne!’ And the king bowed himself on the bed. 48 The king has also said thus, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has granted one to sit on my throne today while my own eyes see it.’ 49 Then all the guests of Adonijah were terrified; and they arose and each went on his way. 50 And Adonijah was afraid of Solomon, and he arose, went and took hold of the horns of the altar.” (1 Kgs. 1:41-50). The trumpet for Solomon sounded before the feast for Adonijah was completed. Jonathan, the son of the priest Abiathar, had previously acted as one of David’s messengers (2 Sam. 15:36; 17:17). Things happened so fast that Solomon was on the throne before they could react. All of the traitors were filled with fear. Adonijah reacted in fear by placing his hands on the horns of the altar. This was a place of refuge for a person to be placed under God’s protection. But it existed for people who committed unintentional crimes (Ex. 21:12-14; 1 Kgs. 2:28-34). Adonijah lived under the world’s standards. Thus, he expected Solomon to kill him the same way he most likely planned to kill Solomon.

Adonijah grabs the horns of the altar in fear to appeal to Solomon’s mercy5

  • God will humble those who exalt themselves. Adonijah was abased because he exalted himself before God: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12). “For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.” (Ps. 75:6). “When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence, and the humble person He will save.” (Job 22:29). “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (Jam. 4:6). If you see yourself as better than the sinners around you, you also need to purge your pride.

  • God will also judge those who live governed by pride and covetousness. Like Adonijah, Satan was also blessed with great beauty and power as one of God’s most important angels. Like Adonijah, his pride also caused him to covet God’s power. Like Adonijah, Satan also desires to rule over mankind. “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” (Is. 14:13-14). Like Satan and Adonijah, Korah also rebelled against Moses in the wilderness because he was prideful as the nation’s worship leader. He was able to start a rebellion because he found 250 “men of renown” who demanded that Moses share power (Nu. 16:2). But the pride that causes a person to feel entitled to power can ultimately lead to destruction: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Prov. 16:18). Those who rebel out of coveting also violate God’s Tenth Commandment (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21). For the unsaved, “coveting” also disqualifies a person from heaven (1 Cor. 6:10; Eph. 5:3-6). The covetous leader will also feel torment. A person who covets can never satisfy their covetousness by giving into their desires (Hab. 2:5). A covetous leader will never feel satisfied and will inevitably lust after more power. If you feel pride in your accomplishments or in your looks, repent of those feelings. They may be the fuel that causes rebellion in your heart.

  • God never approves of rebellion against His appointed leaders. If Adonijah thought that he could sanction his rebellion before God through either sacrifices or the endorsement of the elites, he was mistaken. Peter says that those who “despise authority” are “corrupt.” (2 Pet. 2:10). God further considers rebellion to be one of the worst types of evils. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Sam. 15:23). He warns that you are not to speak ill of His appointed leaders: “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.” (Ps. 105:15). When you have contempt toward His leaders, it is equivalent in the Bible to having contempt toward Him “Moses said, ‘ . . . Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.”’ (Ex. 16:8(b), 8; 1 Sam. 8:7). “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” (Ro. 13:1-2). “By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice.” (Prov. 8:15). “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,” (Titus 3:1). Unless a government practices evil, like the Nazis in World War II, rebellion is never allowed. Change should come peaceably through voting and through prayer.

  • Fear God by hating evil. Solomon later revealed that: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” (Ps. 111:10). This did not mean that Solomon’s wayward brothers, like Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, needed to fear the arbitrary wrath of God. Instead, they needed to fear God by hating that which was evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13). If you are tolerating or embracing evil things in your life, the fear of God is missing in your life as well.

7. Mercy: God’s Leaders Should be Merciful and Love Their Enemies. 1 Kgs. 1:51-53.

  • As his first act as king, Solomon grants Adonijah mercy. As a man filled with the Holy Spirit, Solomon’s first act was to grant Adonijah a conditional pardon: “51 Now it was told Solomon, saying, “Behold, Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon, for behold, he has taken hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’” 52 Solomon said, “If he is a worthy man, not one of his hairs will fall to the ground; but if wickedness is found in him, he will die.” 53 So King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and prostrated himself before King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, ‘Go to your house.’” (1 Kgs. 1:51-53). If Solomon had acted like a worldly king, he would have immediately killed Adonijah. Yet, as a Spirit-led leader, Solomon showed mercy and grace (Mic. 6:8). But Solomon’s mercy was conditional upon Adonijah’s good behavior by ending his quest for power (1 Kgs. 1:52). Adonijah would later take Solomon’s mercy as a license to sin further. This would sadly result in his death (1 Kgs. 2:13-25).

Adonijah bows before Solomon, and Solomon shows him mercy6

  • Forgive those who persecute you. Like Solomon, you should forgive those who hurt you: “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32). “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matt. 6:14). “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). Have you forgiven those who have harmed you?

  • Forgive and show love to others as God has done for you. Just as God forgave you and loved you, you should do the same to others: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matt. 6:14). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32.) “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Col. 3:13). “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11). “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” (Lev. 19:18). “Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” (Prov. 20:22). “Do not say, ‘Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.’” (Prov. 24:29). “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matt. 5:39; Lk. 6:29). “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.” (Ro. 12:17). “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay’ says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19). Have you forgiven and shown love to your enemies?

  • Mercy is given to whom it is shown. Adonijah demanded mercy when he was unwilling to show mercy to his brother. Just as God shows you mercy, He wants you to show mercy to others. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk. 6:36). “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7). “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Lk. 6:37). “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2; Prov. 19:11). “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). Are you merciful to your enemies? Will you show mercy even if you have nothing worldly to gain for it?