It is easy to presume that 1 and 2 Samuel are but a precursor to the great reign of the kings of Israel. In some sense, there is truth to that presumption – we have first seen the kings of the world in (Genesis 14); these enraged madmen fighting each other, only to be easily defeated by the Spirit-filled Abraham. Where the kings fought for land (Genesis 14:18-22) and lordship, Abraham fought to save his nephew Lot. Such is the love of the Christ who would fight for the one sheep (Luke 15:4-6). Such is the love of the anointed one who would reclaim the dead bones from the enemy’s bondage (1 Samuel 31:13) to give it a new lease. A new life (2 Samuel 21:12-14).
Yet, 2 Samuel did not end with a victorious bang of man’s triumph over sin. It is quite the opposite – much like the first time the Satan appeared in the story of creation, Satan re-appears for the first time in the narration of the story (though referenced by 1 Chronicles 21:1) to tempt the anointed king to number the physical church. This mandate is so disgusting that even Joab, the murderous army general, thought it to be repulsive. Yet, the LORD had used this opportunity to display the greater gospel, the flesh and body of Whom David was a mere shadow of. The Angel of the LORD, who stood by the burnt offering, in the very place of Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), where the same Angel, Sent One of the Father, would Himself be sacrificed for the sins of mankind.
With 2 Samuel ending with the failure of king David, the inevitable enthronement of Solomon (the oath between Bathsheba and Solomon never mentioned throughout 2 Samuel) is shrouded with mystery. Is this boy the one who will secure the Kingdom of David eternally (2 Samuel 7)? Though the Israelites would like to believe so, it is the end of 2 Samuel which has already dictated that this Adam is not to be the true inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, just as the first Adam in the garden was made of dust outside of the heavenly garden. Solomon, like the rest of the kings in 1 and 2 Kings, are but continuing the baton of the Light, until the Light of the World enters darkness upon the Father’s speech (Genesis 1:3 – “Let there be light” – light was not created) and order is brought to a chaotic world ruled by corrupt kings, hypocritical Pharisees, fallen government, sexual orgies, what have you.
And the weakness of Adam is not only displayed at the end of 2 Samuel, but immediately in 1 Kings 1 – David is old and advanced in age. He is not the same young shepherd boy who defeated Goliath with a smooth stone. He is not the same man who had led the mighty thirty. Instead, we see a faint picture of a return to the garden – the weakness of man in covering oneself up with man-made garment, failing entirely to keep the body warm. Only Jesus, the Second Person who walked with Adam (Genesis 3:8) in the garden, could provide the animal skin. And thus, the first death in creation was not Abel, as sometimes improperly chronicled by commentators. Rather, the first death is the innocent animal, the robe of righteousness over Adam (Isaiah 61). The mysterious Abishag (“given to error / ignorance of the father”), never again mentioned in Scripture, who is a Shunammite, from the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 13:18) – she is the beautiful woman who can give David warmth. Yet, simultaneous to David’s weakness in being cloaked by the beautiful flesh; simultaneous to the Fatherly love towards Adam in cloaking him with the beautiful animal garment compared to the filthy man-made rags, is the very fact that both Adam and David have fallen. Where Adam fell by submitting to the serpent, David here is simply marred by the consequence of Adam’s sin as he nears the very death that Adam had caused. So the enemy moves like a ravenous wolf (Matthew 7:15), like a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8), waiting to usurp the Father’s throne.
Is this not the very behaviour of Adonijah (“my Lord is Jehovah”), the son of Haggith (“festive” – 2 Samuel 3:4, a wife of David), bearing such charm like Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13) and appealing to both Joab and Abiathar (who had once aided David in his escape in 1 Samuel 22, bearing the ark of God back to Jerusalem alongside Zadok in 2 Samuel 15:29-36)? Like Amnon (2 Samuel 13), “…his father had never at any time displeased him…”. Just like Adam, David had inherited the first man’s sin of silence when his wife listened to the serpent.
5Now(B) Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.”(C) And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man,(D) and he was born next after Absalom. 7He conferred with(E) Joab the son of Zeruiah and with(F) Abiathar the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. 8But(G) Zadok the priest and(H) Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and(I) Nathan the prophet and(J) Shimei and Rei and(K) David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.
9Adonijah sacrificed sheep, oxen, and fattened cattle by the Serpent’s Stone, which is beside(L) En-rogel, and he invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the mighty men or(M) Solomon his brother.
Is this therefore not the classic case of pretence in religion? That Adonijah should choose the one mighty man not in the ranks of the thirty; one of the two renowned priests who had stood alongside David (2 Samuel 15-19); and chose to invite all the other brothers of David’s lineage and all the royal officials of Judah? These are all choice men, men of honour, men of influence, great men who can aid Adonijah rise to high places (Luke 6:35, 14:12); but it is the prophet Nathan who rebuked David (2 Samuel 12); it is Zadok the priest and Benaiah who carried the ark and was one of the mighty three respectively (2 Samuel 15, 23); and it is Shimei (likely to be one of the twelve officers of Solomon in 1 Kings 4:18) and Rei (v.8 – one who was never mentioned again in Scripture but was named explicitly in this chapter simply for his allegiance to David just as we are named for we stand under the banner of Christ) and David’s mighty men who belonged to the caliber of men who would lay their lives before the LORD to retrieve water for David (2 Samuel 23).
Following this, we see the underlying Trinitarian mediation at play – from Bathsheba standing as the witness between David and Solomon, to Nathan, standing between Bathsheba and David in confirming her words that Solomon is the chosen oath. He is part of Christ’s election, promised by David to Bathsheba and confirmed by Nathan – the importance lying in the fact that Solomon is not David’s explicit choice after 2 Samuel 7, enabling the reader and hearer of this chapter to understand that David saw beyond Solomon.
Notice how in verse 14 that Nathan encourages Bathsheba to first speak, then Nathan enters (v.22) to confirm Bathsheba’s words. Notice how v.16-21 (Bathsheba’s words) are almost exactly mirrored by Nathan’s words in v.22-27; the latter adding extra details, such as the inclusion of the “commanders” of the army (where Bathsheba spoke only of Joab, the one commander who was invited); and secondly v.25b-27: “And behold, they are eating and drinking before him, and saying,(V) ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26(W) But me, your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he has not invited.” Such is the manner of witness and of revelation, that truth is brought as light into darkness just as the Son’s witness is the Spirit before the heavenly Father, as we see Bathsheba’s witness as the prophet Nathan before the great king. Notice how, throughout this chapter (at least five times the phrase “King David”, not to mention the numerous times David is simply referred to as king despite Adonijah’s “kingship”) David is still referred to as “King” – as is to denote strongly that Adonijah’s self-exaltation, enthronement and celebration is ridiculed by the narration. David is still King. Not Adonjiah. Therefore this appeal is made even more powerful, as Adonijah appeals to his religious exterior and pretence, but Bathsheba and Nathan appeal to the true king and shadow of Christ whose reason to honour his oath is because of the LORD (v.29-30):
28Then King David answered, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. 29And the king swore, saying,(X) “As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my soul out of every adversity, 30(Y) as I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel, saying, ‘Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ even so will I do this day.” 31Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground and paid homage to the king and said,(Z) “May my lord King David live forever!”
32King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. 33And the king said to them, “Take with you(AA) the servants of your lord and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and bring him down to(AB) Gihon. 34And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there(AC) anoint him king over Israel.(AD) Then blow the trumpet and say,(AE) ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35You shall then come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, for he shall be king in my place. And I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.” 36And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, say so. 37(AF) As the LORD has been with my lord the king, even so may he be with Solomon,(AG) and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.”
Note David’s command to the servants who have not defected to Adonijah’s camp – “Take with you the servants of your lord” (v.33). His first command is immediately mingled with an implication of faithfulness. Who is their “lord” but David? Who is the LORD of lords but Yahweh (v.37; Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14, 19:16). Who are the servants but Cherethites and Pelethites (“executioners” and “couriers” from foreign land – 1 Samuel 30:14; 2 Samuel 15:18; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5)? The second command is then in relation to Solomon’s enthronement and anointing by way of the mule (Matthew 21), and bringing him down to Gihon, the valley of grace and one of the rivers flowing out of the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:13) – a powerful image of not only Solomon’s anointing, but also of victorious works (in relation to Hezekiah and the Fish Gate – 2 Chronicles 32:30, 33:14), as well as it being the only natural spring of water in the vicinity of Jerusalem as it feeds the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7). In this pool of healing, we now begin to see the healing of the nation by the leadership of Solomon one of whose first acts as king is the marriage alliance with Egypt. This is reminiscent of Gishon as a river in the Ethiopian regions of Cush, reminding us of the Israel-Gentile relationship.
Such is the foundational difference between Solomon being made the heir of David’s throne, as opposed to Adonijah’s enthronement which is not surrounded by the humility of the passage by mule; nor by the Spirit-anointing (Hebrews 1:9; Psalm 89:20; 1 John 2:27); nor by the trumpet blowing reminiscent of the trumpet blowing of the opening of the year (Leviticus 23:24, the seventh month, the month of Tishri, being the first month of the year being the day of trumpets) and LORD’s return (Revelation 11:15). This is the grand picture of the true enthronement of our LORD Jesus, who by the trumpet blast enters into our world victoriously when creation is riddled with faux-kings (Genesis 14) and a faux Baal (Matthew 4:9), shattering the delusion created by the false angel (2 Corinthians 11:14). Just as Solomon is anointed as king by both priest and prophet as confirmatory witnesses to Solomon’s new lordship, so also it is by the Levitical priesthood and prophethood established in pre-Israel days (Genesis 14:18; Exodus 2:16; Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1) which precedes and underlines the qualification of true lordship, for Christ is not only LORD but also prophet and priest (John 7:40; Hebrews 5:6) before He is proclaimed as LORD of all creation (Hebrews 1:13, 10:13).
38So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada,(AH) and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39There Zadok the priest took the horn of(AI) oil from the tent and(AJ) anointed Solomon.(AK) Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said,(AL) “Long live King Solomon!” 40And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.
Contrast v.40 with v.41 – where there was true joy in the anointing of Solomon, the one appointed by God, we also see a rejoicing at the feasting table of Adonjiah. However, such feasting has no foundation, just as the feasting of those mighty men of Nimrod in the days of Noah (Genesis 10) were not scenes of Christocentric joy. This juxtaposition of v.40 and 41 is therefore very poignant in pointing out the eternal gladness of Solomon’s kingship in comparison to the temporary man-made gladness stemming not from God’s election, but from man’s religious self-election. Joab’s ignorance is akin to the ignorance of the men who scoffed at Noah (Genesis 7; 2 Peter 2:13) – “What does this uproar in the city mean”? (v.41), suggesting that these men of Adonijah neither knew nor served the true king. “This is the noise that you have heard” (or “voice” which is a better description, the same “voice” of God in Genesis 3:8) – what a clanging stumbling block of a noise in Joab’s ears, that he should receive the true king like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5)!
It comes therefore as no surprise that the chapter ends triumphantly, a picture of rejoicing shattering the false image of v.41 with the delusion revealed in v.49. “…all the guests… trembled and rose, and each went his own way”. What a prototypical picture of the day of Christ’s return! (Revelation 6:16-17) That even Adonijah, in the midst of his fear, would go to the horns of the altar (Exodus 30:10 – where the High Priest shall make atonement on its horns once a year as most holy sin offering throughout the generations), and appeal to King Solomon by first going to the altar of sacrifice where Christ’s blood would lay. And just is the response of Solomon, upon hearing that Adonijah has laid hold of the altar’s horns (v.51) – that he shall prove he does not hold onto Christ emptily, but that he will prove it by his good works (1 John 3; James 2:14).