So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon.
And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon, and they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save the king.
The results of David’s sins were destined to remain with him as long as he lived. He had given himself to the allure of many wives, and accordingly he was unable to control and discipline their many children. Thus it was that until his dying day, hatred and envy and strife tore away at the life of his family.
Absalom was now dead. He had dreamed of becoming king and had done all in his power to execute his ambition. The result had been death to himself besides grief to his father and trouble to their nation. Now he was gone; but, in a family of many royal children divided in loyalties by the diversity of their mothers, there was ever another ready to take up where Absalom had left off. Especially was this so because David was becoming so old and infirmed that he could not possibly live and reign much longer.
This time it was Adonijah the son of Haggith. He knew, as did everyone, that Solomon had been designated by David as the proper heir to his throne. But the dream of power was not so easily put down. It only made him the more determined to work at it harder. For some time already he had taken up the practice, which Absalom had found so effective, of riding about in chariots with horsemen and fifth runners to accompany him. It was a bold thing to do, for such ostentation was the proper right only of a king. His practice of it was, like that of Absalom before him, an evident claim to the right of succession to the royal throne. David, the king but ever indulgent father, should have recognized the implications of this practice and forbidden it immediately. But he didn’t. Dismissing it as a mere youthful fancy, he allowed Adonijah to continue in his way and so to persist in the sinful dream.
But Adonijah was not the only one who was dissatisfied with the prospects of Solomon becoming king. In fact, among those who in recent years had become more and more disillusioned with the reign of David were not only Abiathar the priest but even Joab, David’s long time intimate friend and the captain of his army.
The history of the falling out between David and Joab we have well recorded. It all began at the time when Joab had taken it upon himself to put an end to the life of Absalom. There was a certain wisdom and good intent in what he had done, of course. Certainly if anyone ever deserved to die it was he. But David had pleaded that his son’s life should be spared, and the man whose hand had ended it his heart could not easily forgive. Quickly David had lashed back at Joab where it hurt the most. He had taken Joab’s position from him and given it to Amasa, the man who had been captain of Absalom’s army. Strong of character and not so easily daunted, Joab had met this move by merely slaying Amasa with his own hands and taking up his position as always before the army. In this he had succeeded, but his close friendship with David had never been restored as before; and through the years his old loyalty to the king had weakened more and more.
All might have been saved yet if Solomon had been the kind of man who was warm and responsive to the needs of others, an outgoing young man as Adonijah was and as Absalom before him. But he was not. Quiet and reserved, he kept his counsels to himself, while maintaining a fierce loyalty to his father. For Joab and Abiathar it left little hope that with the ascension of Solomon to the throne they would be restored to the positions of importance which they had enjoyed in their earlier years; and, for those long accustomed to positions of importance and power, they were not easy to give up to others.
Thus it was that when Adonijah approached the two of them and invited them to join in his plot, they cast aside their past discretion and agreed.
His plan was very simple and seemed to hold real promise. David was now weak and infirmed, and it appeared unlikely to live many more days. Confined to his bed and dying, it hardly seemed possible that he could or would even care to offer any resistance if Adonijah with the help of Joab and Abiathar would have himself anointed king. Besides they could make an agreement with all of the other sons of David, leaving Solomon alone without any strength. Quickly their plan was made and they proceeded to execute it. Calling as many of the sons and servants of the king as he could trust behind him, he took sacrifices of oxen and cattle to the stone of Zoheleth by Enrogel with the intention of setting forth a great feast and announcing himself as the new king of the nation of Israel.
One thing, however, Adonijah and Joab and Abiathar had failed to reckon with: that was, God and His will.
Nathan, the prophet of God, Adonijah recognized as one who could not be taken into his plot; but his efforts to keep him ignorant of what he was doing were to no avail.
Quickly Nathan made his way to Bathsheba. His problem was to impress upon the dying king the seriousness of the situation; and for this, Bathsheba, still the favorite wife of David, was the best means. Before Bathsheba he laid his plan, the only means by which at this late hour the throne might be saved for Solomon not only, but by which her life and the life of her son might be spared.
The result was that very soon thereafter Bathsheba entered the bed chamber where the king lay sick and presented herself to him; and, once he had recognized her, she spoke as follows, “My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne. And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not; and he bath. slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called. And. thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers; that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.”
Here was the kind of tale which the old king, in spite of the painful lessons of the past, found it almost impossible to believe. And now, too, his old and weary mind wanted to dismiss it as the wild imaginings of a woman’s mind, except that while Bathsheba yet spoke Nathan the prophet entered the room. His message was much the same, for he said, “My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? For he is gone down this day, and hath called all the king’s sons, and the captain of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Aqonijah. But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called. Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not showed it unto thy servant, who should, sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?”
The approach of Nathan was successful. The double statement from the woman whom he most loved and the prophet who represented the cause of God to him at last aroused in the old and dying king the kind of zeal for the right and good which had so often characterized him in his youth. With determination and authority he arose to the situation.
First he commanded that Bathsheba, who had by this time left the room, be called back. To her he said, “As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress. Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead? even so will I certainly do this day.”
Gratefully Bathsheba bowed in reverence before the king and answered, “Let my lord king David live for ever.”
Next David gave another order, “Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.”
Quickly the men came and to them David said, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.”
Spontaneous as it was, it was nevertheless a joyful occasion in Israel that day. Suddenly there appeared in the streets of Jerusalem a great procession with Solomon riding in the midst of it upon the back of the king’s mule. Without being told the people knew what it meant. Quickly and without prompting they left their work to take up their pipes and songs of joy as they followed the procession on its way to Gihon.
Before the procession went Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites with Solomon riding in the midst of them. There could be little question but that what was coming to pass was with the approval both of King David and of God. Then, when at last they came to the tabernacle, Zadok the priest entered in and took a horn of oil from the presence of God. This he brought out and poured upon the head of Solomon. It was then that the people really burst forth. Great was the shout, “God save King Solomon!” All the way back to the palace the shouts and sound of song and dance filled the city and shook the earth. There within the palace Solomon was placed upon the throne of Israel, the throne of the great king.
To the bed chamber of king David was brought this message from all of his servants, “God make the name of Solomon better than thy name, and make his throne greater than they throne.”
To them in reply from David came the answer, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit upon my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.”
Israel had received its new king.