1 Kings 1


In the first eleven chapters of 1 Kings, we find that Solomon becomes the king of Israel after David dies. Before dying, David tells him to walk in God’s ways and so Solomon asks for wisdom from God, which he receives.

Solomon then begins a huge building project, which includes the building of the temple, which David requested. He began building the temple 480 years after the Exodus from Egypt, seven years later, the Ark of the covenant was brought to the temple, and the glory of the Lord descended on it. Solomon then prays and sacrifices are then offered.

Although Solomon was the wisest man around, he did some pretty stupid things, such as worshipping foreign gods, which his many wives introduced him to. It wouldn’t be long after these things happened that his reign would come to an end and he would die.

In the next eleven chapters of 1 Kings, we begin to read about the end of the united kingdom of Israel. The nation as a whole finds itself in a situation where they have some decisions to make, sadly they choose the wrong ones. In 931 B.C., the united kingdom splits into two separate kingdoms, one to the north and one to the south, this was the beginning of the divided kingdom period.

It was during this time that Rehoboam inherits the kingdom and is relentless about enforcing high taxes, this causes the Northern tribes to begin a revolt and Jeroboam is crowned king of Israel. Ten tribes became the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin became the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Near the end, we read about how God raises up a prophet named Elijah to warn evil king Ahab to turn from idol worship and to return to the Lord.


No one knows with any certainty who wrote the Book of 1 Kings, although there are some portions of them and of Jeremiah that are almost identical, 2 Kings 24:18-25:30 / Jeremiah 52:1-34 / Jeremiah 39:1-10 / Jeremiah 40:7-16 / Jeremiah 41:1-10.

There are also many undersigned coincidences between Jeremiah and Kings 2 Kings 21:1-26 / Jeremiah 7:15 / Jeremiah 15:4 / Jeremiah 19:3, and events recorded in Kings of which Jeremiah had personal knowledge.

These facts approve to some degree the tradition that Jeremiah was the author of the books of Kings. But the more probable theory is that Ezra, after the captivity, compiled them from documents written perhaps by David, Solomon, Nathan, Gad, and Iddo and that he arranged them in the order in which they now exist.


It’s not possible to accurately date the book, but some suggest it was written sometime between B.C. 561 when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Awel-Marduk, and B.C. 538 the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus, 2 Kings 25:1-30.


The two books of Kings were formed originally from one book in the Hebrew Scriptures. The present division into two books was first made by the LXX., which now, with the Vulgate, numbers them as the third and fourth books of Kings, the two books of Samuel being the first and second books of Kings.

In the threefold division of the Scriptures by the Jews, these books are ranked among the ‘Prophets’. They are frequently quoted or alluded to by our Lord and His apostles, Matthew 6:29 / Matthew 12:42 / Luke 4:25-26 / Luke 10:4 / 2 Kings 4:29 / Mark 1:6 / 2 Kings 1:8 / Matthew 3:4.

Within 1 Kings we find references to other books, such as ‘the book of the acts of Solomon’, 1 Kings 11:41, the ‘book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah’, 1 Kings 14:29 / 1 Kings 15:7 / 1 Kings 15:23, and finally the ‘book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel’, 1 Kings 14:19 / 1 Kings 15:31 / 1 Kings 16:14 / 1 Kings 16:20 / 1 Kings 16:27.


The most glorious part of the history of Israel was the United Kingdom, so-called to distinguish it from the Divided Kingdom which followed, it lasted from about 1095 to 975 B. C. and included the reigns of three great kings, Saul, David, and Solomon. The story of this period is related in the two books of Samuel, 1 Kings 1-111 Chronicles 1-2 and 1 Chronicles 9.


You will remember that for about 300 years the twelve tribes of Israel had been loosely governed by judges. The last and greatest of these was the prophet, Samuel. But the children of Israel wanted to be like their neighbours; they came to Samuel and asked for a king.

Although God was much displeased with their request, He instructed Samuel to anoint as their king a young man named Saul who stood head and shoulders above the people. The people gathered at Mizpeh and were presented with their new ruler who was so timid that he hid among the baggage.

Saul began his forty-year reign well. Israel was beset by enemies and he undertook the task of driving them back. His army defeated the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites and others. Soon Saul was a popular figure among the people. But his popularity went to his head and he ceased to be a humble servant of God.

Instead, he became self-willed, bent on doing things the way he wanted them done, regardless of the will of God. On one occasion he was commissioned to ‘utterly destroy the Amalekites.’ Instead, he spared the king and saved some sheep and cattle to sacrifice.

Because he had thus disobeyed the Lord, Samuel rebuked him with the words, ‘Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ 1 Samuel 15:22. From that time on, God rejected Saul as king.

Saul deeply loved him and selected him as his armour bearer. David quickly rose to prominence by slaying with a sling the champion of the Philistines, the giant Goliath. The ensuing glory given to David provoked the jealousy of Saul who began to suspect that David was trying to supplant him as king. From that time on Saul sought to kill David and for years hunted him as an outlaw over the hills of Israel.

Perhaps the most beautiful friendship in the Bible is that of David and Jonathan, the son of Saul, who, although he realized that David would become king instead of himself, constantly sought to save David from his father’s ire. Saul and Jonathan both fell in battle with the Philistines to prepare the way for David as king.


After Saul’s death, David was crowned king of the tribe of Judah while Saul’s sorry son, Ishbosheth, reigned over the rest of Israel. When his kingdom collapsed after seven years, David’s authority was extended over all of Israel. David selected Jerusalem as his capital and set about the task of making Israel a great nation. In successive wars, he expanded the kingdom from the Nile to the Euphrates River.

David was truly a man after God’s own heart. The Lord declared of him, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.’ Acts 13:22. The psalms written by David are an expression of his complete devotion to God. This consecration was especially evident in his constant willingness to obey all the Lord’s commands.

We may learn from him that we cannot expect the approval of God unless we are always willing to do what He asks of us without question. Despite David’s success and his faithfulness to God, he made one grave mistake that followed him to his death. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite.

Some stories have portrayed Bathsheba as a siren who intentionally seduced David. Nothing in the Bible bears out this idea. To cover up his sin, David had Uriah placed in the thick of battle so that he might be slain, and then, when he was dead, took Bathsheba as his wife. All of this greatly displeased God and Nathan the prophet was sent to rebuke David by telling him the parable of the ewe lamb, 2 Samuel 12.

David repented, but his troubles now began. His son Absalom murdered his brother. Later Absalom led a revolt against David and died in the attempt. For a time, David was forced to flee. Adding to his grief, another son, Adonijah, attempted to usurp the kingdom with the help of David’s trusted general, Joab.

To forestall the kingdom from falling into the wrong hands, David had his son, Solomon, crowned king while he yet lived. Shortly thereafter David died, bringing to an end the forty-year reign of a great man of God.


Solomon’s rule was in sharp contrast with his father’s. While David had faced turmoil for almost his entire reign, Solomon’s was one of unbroken peace. He began auspiciously. In a dream, he asked for God’s wisdom rather than riches and honour, and because of his thoughtful request was rewarded with all three. Solomon’s wisdom is known to all. Three thousand proverbs and 1005 songs came forth from this sage!

Much of his wisdom is recorded for us in the three books which he wrote and which we will study in another lesson. Politically he extended the influence of Israel to its greatest height making it a world power.

The fabulous wealth of Solomon astounds us, even to this day. He had 1400 chariots, 12,000 horsemen and an annual income of six hundred threescores and six talents of gold. And he didn’t have to pay an income tax!

On one occasion he was given an outright gift of one hundred and twenty talents of gold by the queen of Sheba. When she visited Solomon to see if all the reports of his fame were true, she was so amazed that she exclaimed, ‘Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.’ 1 Kings 10:7.

The greatest of all Solomon’s accomplishments was his building of the temple of God to replace the tabernacle in which Israel had worshipped since the wilderness wanderings. Probably no structure in the world’s history has equalled it in cost. Built by 183,000 men in seven and a half years, it cost an immense sum of money to erect.

The great wealth of Solomon eventually led to his undoing. He sought every kind of pleasure and married 700 wives and 300 concubines. Most of these were idolaters and what a time he must have had in trying to please them all. His high cost of living led him to tax the people heavily, much to their dissatisfaction.

His reign had started with wisdom and wealth; it ended with women and idolatry. When his forty-year rule ended he was a thoroughly disillusioned and unhappy man. In his revelry, he had laid the groundwork for the division of his great kingdom after his death.


The united kingdom and the reign of Solomon. 1 Kings 1-11.
The division of the nation into the northern and southern kingdoms. 1 Kings 12-16.
The appearance of the prophet Elijah. 1 Kings 17-22.

The Text

‘When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So his attendants said to him, ‘Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.’ Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.’ 1 Kings 1:1-4

Adonijah Sets Himself Up As King

The first thing the writer tells us is that David is now very old, probably in his seventies. Because of his age and because he’s near death his body temperature couldn’t be kept stable and so, as was the custom of the day a young woman would be brought to lie next to David to give him extra body heat.

After an intensive search through Israel, they found a beautiful young woman named Abishag who was from a place called Shunem, which is located on the western slope of the hill of Moreh, northwest of Jezreel, in the territory of Issachar, Joshua 19:18.

Although Abishag lay next to David to keep him warm, they had no sexual relations together. She was there simply to keep David warm in his last days.

‘Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, ‘I will be king.’ So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never rebuked him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’ He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.) Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard did not join Adonijah. Adonijah then sacrificed sheep, cattle and fattened calves at the Stone of Zoheleth near En Rogel. He invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the special guard or his brother Solomon.’ 1 Kings 1:5-10

Whilst David was being kept warm on his deathbed, Adonijah selfishly decides to go against the will of God by making himself king. Because his mother was Haggith, 2 Samuel 2:4, he may have honestly thought that it was his right to become king.

It’s clear because his father never rebuked him, Adonijah had no respect for any kind of authority when he was younger and this continued into adulthood, Proverbs 19:18 / Proverbs 29:17.

Joab and Abiathar were also old and were in the past loyal to David, but here, they appear to side with Adonijah, but the text doesn’t tell us why. It’s possible, just like Adonijah, they thought that Adonijah was the rightful heir of David.

It’s also possible that Joab remembered that David had pronounced a curse upon him, 2 Samuel 3:29, and so if he joins forces with Adonijah, he may well escape the curse. It’s also possible that Abiathar joined forces with Adonijah because he was jealous of the preference David seemed to have conferred upon Zadok, a rival High Priest.

One thing is clear though and that is Zadok, Benaiah, Nathan, Shimei and Rei appear to know the will of both God and David and as a result, they weren’t invited to Adonijah’s celebration of his supposed rise to the throne.

‘Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? Now then, let me advise you on how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: ‘Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne’? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and add my word to what you have said.’ 1 Kings 1:11-14

God’s prophet, Nathan, appears to know that God’s choice of who would be king was more important than the firstborn becoming the heir to the throne, Deuteronomy 17:15. He knows if Adonijah becomes king, then the very lives of Bathsheba, who was Solomon’s mother, 2 Samuel 12:24-25, and Solomon himself would be at risk.

Because Nathan mentions ‘Haggith’, the mother of Adonijah, he knew that this would cause jealousy in Bathsheba, which would motivate her to save not only her own life but also the life of Solomon.

Make no mistake about it, if Adonijah becomes king, then both Bathsheba and Solomon would have not lived. Adonijah’s failure to invite Solomon and his followers to his feast implies that Adonijah knew that David wanted Solomon to become king.

‘So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him. Bathsheba bowed down, prostrating herself before the king. ‘What is it you want?’ the king asked. She said to him, ‘My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the LORD your God: ‘Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.’ But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it. He has sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. My lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to learn from you who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise, as soon as my lord the king is laid to rest with his ancestors, I and my son Solomon will be treated as criminals.’ 1 Kings 1:15-21

Although David was very old and physically struggling, his mental health was still in good order. He knows exactly what he said concerning Solomon becoming king after David dies. Solomon will become king and there should be no doubt in the minds of those present what David’s will is, 2 Samuel 7:1-29.

After she tells David everything which has happened and is going on behind his back, Bathsheba is concerned about her life and the life of Solomon. She knows that Adonijah would treat her and Solomon like mere criminals, 2 Kings 18:14. In other words, they would be condemned for treason again the throne.

‘While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. And the king was told, ‘Nathan the prophet is here.’ So he went before the king and bowed with his face to the ground. Nathan said, ‘Have you, my lord the king, declared that Adonijah shall be king after you, and that he will sit on your throne? Today he has gone down and sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep. He has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. Right now they are eating and drinking with him and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But me your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he did not invite. Is this something my lord the king has done without letting his servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?’ 1 Kings 1:22-27

Nathan arrived and goes to David and he asks David if he declared Adonijah to be king without telling those close to him. He tells David everything that has been happening, and he tells him that those closest to David haven’t even been invited to the feast.

Not long from now, Solomon will make Zadok High Priest, 1 Kings 1:32-40, and the support which Abiathar gave Adonijah, will result in his removal from the priesthood, 1 Kings 2:27, just as God had prophesied regarding the descendants of Eli, 1 Samuel 2:13-35.

David Makes Solomon King

‘Then King David said, ‘Call in Bathsheba.’ So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him. The king then took an oath: ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.’ Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, ‘May my lord King David live forever!’ 1 Kings 1:28-31

After hearing what Nathan had to say, David sends for Bathsheba, which implies she wasn’t present when Nathan spoke to David. Despite being physically weak, David wastes no time taking action in declaring an oath in which he declared once again, 1 Kings 1:17, that Solomon would become the next king of Israel, 1 Chronicles 29:21-25.

‘King David said, ‘Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.’ When they came before the king, he said to them: ‘Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.’ Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, ‘Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. As the LORD was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!’ 1 Kings 1:32-37

After all the talks with Bathsheba and Nathan, David wastes no time and orders Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah to make Solomon king as quickly as possible. Notice that Benaiah said, ‘amen’, this was a legal and hearty response indicating complete approval of David’s action by this great soldier.

He has no doubts that God wanted Solomon to be king and so he prays that Solomon’s rule as king would be even greater than David’s rule.

‘So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.’ 1 Kings 1:38-40

David obviously takes Adonijah’s presumption to be king very seriously, hence why he makes publicly wants Solomon to be anointed quickly, 1 Samuel 16:11-13 / 2 Samuel 5:3. Zadok, Nathan and Benaiah went down together with the men called Kerethites and Pelethites to Gihon.

The Kerethites and Pelethites were special guards who came from Crete and Philistia, they were basically soldiers whom people paid to protect the king.

They had Solomon sit on King David’s mule, this was significant because only the rightful king could ride on the king’s mule. Zadok took the horn of oil from the tent that David had erected in Jerusalem and then he poured this oil on Solomon’s head and all the people shouted with joy.

This special ceremony with the oil is called an ‘anointing’. It showed how God was acting to appoint Solomon as the king, 1 Samuel 10:1 / 1 Samuel 16:12-13. Adonijah was trying to appoint himself as the king, but God appointed Solomon. And so, as Adonijah’s guests were finishing their party, Solomon received this anointing to publicly become king of Israel.

Notice that ‘the ground shook’, this tells us that the response of the people was so great, that they had eagerly accepted Solomon as their new king.

‘Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they were finishing their feast. On hearing the sound of the trumpet, Joab asked, ‘What’s the meaning of all the noise in the city?’ Even as he was speaking, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest arrived. Adonijah said, ‘Come in. A worthy man like you must be bringing good news.’ ‘Not at all!’ Jonathan answered. ‘Our lord King David has made Solomon king. The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites, and they have put him on the king’s mule, and Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon. From there they have gone up cheering, and the city resounds with it. That’s the noise you hear. Moreover, Solomon has taken his seat on the royal throne. Also, the royal officials have come to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his throne greater than yours!’ And the king bowed in worship on his bed and said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.’ 1 Kings 1:41-48

It appears that all those who attended Adonijah’s feast were close enough to Gihon to hear the great rejoicing of the people when Solomon was anointed king.

After inquiring what the noise was all about, Jonathan, the son of Abiathar, came to Adonijah and told him what had happened, Solomon was the newly crowned king of Israel.

‘At this, all Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and dispersed. But Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went and took hold of the horns of the altar. Then Solomon was told, ‘Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’ Solomon replied, ‘If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.’ Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, ‘Go to your home.’ 1 Kings 1:49-53

After hearing the news about Solomon becoming king, Adonijah and all his guests because afraid because they realised that the anointing of Solomon as king, meant that those who sided with Adonijah were now considered rebels. Their fear led them to flee for their lives.

Notice that ‘Adonijah took hold of the horns of the altar’, he obviously feels if he takes hold of the horns, this will somehow protect him from being put to death, because he assumed the role of king.

Solomon is happy to show Adonijah mercy but that mercy would depend upon his future behaviour. Solomon would show him mercy, if he submitted to Solomon as king, if not he will die. Sadly, for Adonijah, he would soon forget the commitment he made to Solomon at this time, and because of this, it would cost him his life, 1 Kings 2:13-25.

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