Solomon succeeds David.
The choice of Abishag (v. 3
) to serve David (v. 4
) is a test of his virility. The fact that he did not know her sexually (v. 4
) indicates that he is impotent and therefore no longer fit to be king.
The knowledge of David's impotence spurs Adonijah to declare himself king. The chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him were trappings of kingship (2 Sam 15.1
As the next after Absalom, Adonijah was David's oldest living son (see 2 Sam 3.2–5
; nothing is known about Chileab, and many scholars assume he died in infancy). Therefore, he was by all rights the heir to
The court is divided between those who support Adonijah for king (Joab and Abiathar, v. 7
) and those who support Solomon (Zadok, Benaiah, and Nathan, among others, v. 8
). Since Adonijah was the rightful heir, it must be explained how Solomon came to succeed David. That is the topic of the
rest of the chapter.
Adonijah holds a sacrifice to celebrate his coronation. Such sacrifices were like banquets because the meat from the sacrificed
animals was eaten. Adonijah recognized Solomon as his rival and did not invite him or those who supported him to the sacrifice.
It is surprising to find Nathan and Bathsheba in cahoots; when they were mentioned together previously (2 Sam 11–12
), Nathan was condemning David for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband.
Nathan advises Bathsheba on how to save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. The lives of Bathsheba and Solomon were in danger if Adonijah became king, since new kings customarily killed off all their
potential rivals (compare v. 21
The promise Bathsheba cites here is not recorded elsewhere and may be fictional. She may be taking advantage of David's senility
in order to have Solomon declared king.
The movements of Bathsheba and Nathan are confusing and may indicate editorial work of some sort. As it stands, the reader
must assume that each of them leaves the king's presence when he interviews the other.
The mule was the royal mount (2 Sam 18.9
). The Gihon spring was the water source for the city of Jerusalem.
The Cherethites and Pelethites were the royal bodyguard; they were Philistines or associated with the Philistines.
was a way of designating a person for some special office. It involved dripping or smearing fine olive oil on the person's
The horns of the altar were projections from each corner of a sacrificial altar. Since the altar was holy, grasping the horns was a way of seeking
sanctuary from execution.
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