In the closing verses of chapter one Solomon, as the new King, forgave his brother Adonijah for his attempted takeover of the kingdom and told him to go his way and behave himself. Now in this passage we have a new and strange turn of events. Adonijah comes to Bathsheba (the Queen Mother) requesting that she go to Solomon (the King and her son) asking that Abishag (David’s nurse and part of his harem at the time of his death) be given to him to wife. He also stated to her that the kingdom was rightfully his. It was evident that he had not abandoned his hope of becoming king.
Bathsheba initially expressed caution but Adonijah convinced her that his intentions were peaceful. In her excitement to promote a seemingly innocent love affair, Bathsheba agrees to present his request to the king.
In the ancient East, often when a king died his harem became the property of the new ruler. For someone to take to himself one of the king’s wives would have been regarded as taking to himself the rights of the king. To take possession of a woman from the harem was understood to be taking claim to the throne. When Bathsheba comes to him with this request, Solomon recognized immediately the intentions of Adonijah. In his wisdom, he realized that the people would regard Abishag as a concubine and would interpret Adonijah’s marriage to her as a claim to the throne. Therefore, he called for Benaiah, the captain of the guard, to execute Adonijah for conspiracy.
Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, "Do you come peacefully?" He said, "Peacefully." Then he said, "I have something to say to you." She said, "Speak." He said, "You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign. However, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother's, for it was his from the LORD. And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me." She said to him, "Speak." And he said, "Please ask King Solomon--he will not refuse you--to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife." Bathsheba said, "Very well; I will speak for you to the king." So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And the king rose to meet her and bowed down to her. Then he sat on his throne and had a seat brought for the king's mother, and she sat on his right. Then she said, "I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me." And the king said to her, "Make your request, my mother, for I will not refuse you." She said, "Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife." King Solomon answered his mother, "And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is my older brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah." Then King Solomon swore by the LORD, saying, "God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! Now therefore as the LORD lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today." So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.
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I Kings 1:1-10Adonijah Attempts to Become King
I Kings 1:11-27Nathan And Bathsheba Counsel With David
I Kings 1:28-40Solomon is Confirmed King
I Kings 2:1-12David’s Instructions to Solomon
I Kings 2:13-25Solomon Executes Adonijah
I Kings 2:26-35Joab’s Execution
I Kings 2:36-46Shimei Executed
I Kings 3:1-15Solomon Requests Wisdom
I Kings 3:16-28Solomon’s Wise Judgment
I Kings 4:1-19Solomon’s Political Organization
I Kings 4:20-34Prosperity And Wisdom of Solomon’s Reign
I Kings 5:1-18Solomon Prepares to Build The Temple