Thursday, April 14, 2011

1 Kings 1 Nathan: A Politically Savy Prophet

Abishag at the bed of David, with Bathsheba, S...Image via Wikipedia
During his reign, God had promised David that his descendants would always sit on Israel's throne. No doubt all of his sons coveted the position of a seemingly guaranteed  dynasty.  First Absalom incited a revolt against his father.  Then, toward the end of David's life, another son, Adonijah, attempted to seize the throne.

Though both of these sons were pro-active, had dreams, had plans for improving Israel's administration, neither of them had their eyes on God.  Nathan, the prophet who delivered God's Word to David, God's promise to establish the throne of David's kingdom forever (2Samuel 7:13), also understood that God would guide David to choose his successor.  No son was to usurp the throne.  God created the nation of Israel; God instituted the first dynasty in Israel; God spoke through prophets to the leaders He selected.  Israel was to reflect God's hand, not man's machinations.  Nathan also knew that David had chosen Solomon to be the next King of Israel.

Though Adonijah excluded Nathan from his inauguration party,  the prophet knew of the imminent coup and understood  that Solomon, his mother, David's closest advisers, and maybe even David himself were in mortal danger.  Through God's wisdom, Nathan choreographed exactly how this news was to be delivered to the weary and aged David who probably didn't want to hear of any more family problems or political schemes.  After Nathan alerted Bathsheba of the conspiracy, he instructed her to remind David of his promise to appoint Solomon as King.  Then, she was to inform David of the news of Adonijah's inaugural feast.  Nathan planned to arrive immediately afterwards to corroborate this information and to support David in acting decisively by installing Solomon on the throne immediately.

As an aging monarch, David was simply tired of fighting and tired from grieving for the untimely death of his sons for which he may have felt guilty.  Though he was only 70 when he died, it seems as though he felt a lot older than his years.  The emotional toll of being at least partially responsible for the murder of his sons could have drained him of his desire to live.  

It appears that though David had chosen Solomon, the court felt that David made a poor decision which he could not defend against opposition. A large number of important officials and military leaders rallied around Adonijah.    David may have felt that he did not have sufficient strength to oppose yet another son.  

So God sent Nathan to help David protect his prayerful choice of Solomon as the next King.  I wonder, if Nathan didn't come forward with the disclosure of Adonijah's plans, what would have been?  Would David have simply allowed Adonijah to rule so that there would be "peace" in the house?  It's ironic because only Solomon, Hebrew שְׁלֹמֹה (Shĕlomoh), which means peace could have brought peace to David's house.

By not inviting Solomon to his inaugural feast, Adonijah demonstrated that he already knew that David, with God's help, had chosen Solomon as King.  So, Adonijah also showed that he had no particular respect for God or for his father.  Adonijah was a young man impatient with his father's slow pace and apparent inaction; he really had no use for God because he felt confident in his own ability to rule.  As such that would have made him into a dreadful king for the fledgling nation.

During David's final years, Nathan stood firmly on God's revelation to David; he stood by David's relationship with God, knowing that David desired to do God's will.  So, he acted to help avert a compromise which would ultimately have grieved David more than all of the family conflicts of the past.

When David took a firm stand on his choice of Solomon, the opposing forces dissipated.  Knowing David's desire to avoid conflict and confrontation, God sent the prophet Nathan to support David in making the decision for his family and for Israel.  Nathan knew that David's house needed  שְׁלֹמֹה , peace.

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for Shĕlomoh (Strong's 8010)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 14 Apr 2011. < http://
Strongs=H8010&t=KJV >

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