1 Kings 1 – “The Accession of Solomon”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
David becomes bedridden and his son Adonijah pronounces himself the next king. However, Nathan and Bathsheba convince David to appoint Solomon as the next ruler. Adonijah’s followers disperse once they hear that Solomon has been anointed with David’s approval.

II. Photo
David grows old and weak: “King David was now old, advanced in years; and though they covered him with blankets, he never felt warm.” (v. 1)

III. Important Verses
1-4: King David was now old, advanced in years; and though they covered him with bedclothes, he never felt warm. His courtiers said to him, “Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, to wait upon Your Majesty and be his attendant; and let her lie in your bosom, and my lord the king will be warm.” So they looked for a beautiful girl throughout the territory of Israel. They found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king. The girl was exceedingly beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and waited upon him; but the king was not intimate with her.
5-6: Now Adonijah son of Haggith went about boasting, “I will be king!” He provided himself with chariots and horses, and an escort of fifty outrunners. His father had never scolded him: “Why did you do that?” He was the one born after Absalom and, like him, was very handsome.
28-31: King David’s response was: “Summon Bathsheba!” She entered the king’s presence and stood before the king. And the king took an oath, saying, “As the LORD lives, who has rescued me from every trouble: The oath I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, that your son Solomon should succeed me as king and that he should sit upon my throne in my stead, I will fulfill this very day!” Bathsheba bowed low in homage to the king with her face to the ground, and she said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

IV. Outline
1. David’s sickness
2-4. Avishag lies next to David for warmth
5-10. Adonijah pronounces himself the next king
11-14. Nathan devises a plan to make Solomon the king
15-21. Bathsheba plead swith David
22-27. Nathan speaks with David
28-31. David pronounces Solomon the next king
32-35. David tells Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah to anoint Solomon
36-40. Solomon is anointed amidst great jubilation
41-49. Adonijah’s camp hears the news and disperses
50-51. Adonijah seeks asylum at the altar
52-53. Solomon pardons Adonijah and delivers a stern warning

V. Comment
1 Kings 1 begins the story of Solomon’s ascent to power and his subsequent reign as the king of Israel. This section will last until the end of chapter 11, when Solomon’s kingdom will be split in two.

If one were to examine the introductions found in many of the modern commentaries to the book of Kings, one would find a surprising dearth of new information. Many authors simply restate ideas that were previously said about the book of Samuel. What, one might ask, is the reason for this recapitulation? It seems that the division between Samuel and Kings is arbitrary in nature: one cannot fully understand the book of Samuel without the book of Kings, and one cannot fully understand the book of Kings without the book of Samuel (an example of this is the Joab story, which is spread out among both books). De Vries formulates this idea as follows: “The break between 2 Sam and 1 Kgs is arbitrary, and the break between 1 Kgs and 2 Kgs is arbitrary. 1 Kgs 1–2 is definitely the original conclusion to the document broken off at 2 Sam 20, widely known as the Succession or Throne-succession History. These first two chapters of 1 Kgs were evidently severed from the foregoing material by some ancient editor, dividing up the Scriptures into lectionary-rolls of convenient length, and consigning these chapters to Kgs because they tell of Solomon (though they tell us also of David), the dominant subject of the ensuing chapters.” (xix)

Indeed, many scholars view the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings as a single unit called “The Deuternomistic History.” In his introduction to the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, Collins explains this concept, its origins, and its current status in biblical scholarship. He writes: “The books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings (traditionally known as the Former Prophets) provide the main account that we have of the history of ancient Israel. All history writing is subject to ideological bias, and in the case of these books the bias might also be described as theological. History is viewed through the lens provided by the book of Deuteronomy. Accordingly, these books are known in modern scholarship as Deuteronomistic History.

“The view that the book of Deuteronomy once constituted a literary unit with the historical books was argued in detail by the German scholar Martin Noth in 1943, and has been generally accepted since then, although some scholars have questioned it in recent years. The historical books contain diverse kinds of material, and evidently drew on older sources and traditions. Other scholars before Noth had noticed that some elements in these books were influenced by the book of Deuteronomy. The books of Kings, for example, frequently condemn the kings of northern Israel for continuing ‘the sin of Jeroboam,’ the first king of northern Israel, who erected places of worship at Bethel and Dan, as counterattractions to the temple in Jerusalem. This criticism clearly presupposes Josiah’s reform and Deuteronomic law. Noth, however, pointed out that similar language and ideology runs through all these historical books, and that this shows that they were edited in a consistent manner. the editor is called Deuteronomistic because history is judged in the light of Deuteronomic theology…

“Noth argued that the entire Deuteronomistic History was composed by one editor, during the Babylonian exile. The purpose of the work would then be to explain the disaster that befell Israel and Judah as divine punishment for their failure (and especially the failure of the kings) to keep the covenant. Other scholars, however, have insisted that this is not the only theme in the history. There is also a positive view of the kingship that is reflected in the promise to David in 2 Samuel 7 and in the account of Josiah’s reform. Various alternatives to Noth’s single editor have been proposed. The most influential of these is the view of Frank Moore Cross that there were two editions of the history. The first edition was in the reign of Josiah. This had a positive view of the monarchy, and was in effect propaganda for Josiah’s reform. The second edition was in the Babylonian exile, after the release of King Jehoiachin from prison in 562 B.C.E., which is the last event reported in 2 Kings. The second edition was colored by the destruction of Jerusalem, and placed greater emphasis on the failure of the monarchy. Other scholars have proposed more complex theories. A theory of three editions, one with a historical focus, one prophetic, and one nomistic (emphasizing law) has enjoyed wide support in German scholarship.” (183-184)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
De Vries, Simon John. “1 Kings” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 12 (Waco, Texas: Wordbooks, 1985).
Longe, Burke O. “1 Kings with an Introduction to Historical Literature” Forms of Old Testament Literature vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1984).
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