It's (almost) the end of the David era...moving on to Solomon's story.
NIV Chronological Study Bible
We jump right into the intrigue- as if the story teller is summing up the previous episode before launching into the new one.
Verses 1-4 paint a picture of a very old man whose body is giving out. He cannot stay warm, even covered in blankets. So they seek out a virgin to wait on him and lay with him to keep him warm (asexually).
Starting in verse 5 we see David's second son, Adonijah, (behind Absalom) decide that this was the green light for the coup.
- He stated his objective that he was to be king
- he collected chariots and horses
- he collected fighting men
- the author seems to be telling us that he hadn't been properly chastened and mentions he was handsome and adjacent to Absalom in order (and we know what a narcissist Absalom was.)
- He recruited JAOB...dun dun dun...Joab finally goes off the rails!
- He recruits Abiathar the priest
Those who would not participate:
- Zadok the priest
- Nathan (the prophet)
- David's special guard
Then he makes animal sacrifices at, what seems to be, a pagan stone monument. He does not invite Nathan, Benaiah, David's special guard, or Solomon (although all of the other brothers are invited).
Nathan takes the initiative to intervene in the plot by going to Bathsheba (Solomon's mom) and telling her that Adonijah has claimed the throne. Nathan offers her advice about how she should approach David with the news and how Nathan can come in and help.
Bathsheba goes to King David (while he being "attended to" by his beautiful, virgin nurse maid. She (in my estimation) demeans herself by prostrating herself before him with the little hottie by his side. but she know what the stakes are. Nathan even said it, she trying to save Solomon's life and her own.
And what does David say?
"What is you want?"
It seems like she warrants more than that.
So she reminds him of his commitment to make Solomon king and she tells him that his son, Adonijah, has taken over as king without him even knowing it. Then she tells him the steps Adonijah has taken and those who have sided with Adonijah.
She then emphasizes that everyone is looking to David for the signal of who will be king, and if he lets this stand, when he passes, Bathsheba and Solomon will be treated as criminals.
Then enters Nathan and basically repeats the whole message as a second witness to the events taking place. He words as a question...'hey this is happening, is this what you decided?'
So David brought Bathsheba back in and swore he would make good on his promise that day.
He put Zadok, Nathan, Benaiah, and Jehoiada into action to take Solomon to Gihon on David's mule. Anoint him as king and make acclamations of his being king. Then bring him back to my throne and have begin his reign today. (not waiting for David to pass.) This led to much sound and joyful noises from the people.
Adonijah, Joab, and the others heard the noise and a messenger came and brought the "bad" news. When the people heard, they scattered.
Adonijah went and clung to the horns of the altar and demanded that Solomon swear not to hurt him. Maybe it wasn't a pagan monument? If he believed that the horns of the altar meant that much to Solomon.
Solomon promised to spare him if he was found to be worthy; but promised that he would die if evil was found in him. Solomon sent men to bring him down from the altar and Adonijah bowed before Solomon and Solomon sent Adonijah to his home.
Ryrie Study Bible (NASB)
The Ryrie footnotes estimate that by "old" they estimate 70 years old.
What NIV was calling David's special guard was what NASB refers to as David's Mighty Men.
Ryrie's footnote sheds a little light on Nathan's enthusiasm in helping Bathsheba...it says that if Adonijah had invited Nathan and Solomon, he would have been obliged to protect them. By not inviting them, he would likely slay them when he took the throne.
David's steps bypassed the preliminary steps that Adonijah was taking. So now, Adonijah would have to overthrow the rightful king instead of just claiming from the old man.
Taking hold of the horns of the altar was a claim to protection; but not guaranteed.
Wiersbe Commentary: Be Responsible
Wiersbe frames the first section as a crisis in the kingdom that brings out each person in the story's real self.
He starts with Adonijah the opportunist. He was the oldest living son (Wiersbe estimates 35 years old) and felt the throne belonged to him. the old man was so sick he needed a girl to keep him warm. So he assumed David couldn't put up a fight.
Wiersbe points out that Adonijah, started by collecting the support of the military and the religious leader with Joab, and the priest, Abiathar. Then he also points out that all three had to know of David's covenant with the Lord and Solomon being the Lord's appointed successor.
What were they thinking? What, in all the years they had observed David, led them to believe they could short circuit the will of the Lord?
Wiersbe points out that Bathsheba must have risen to be a woman of influence as men came to her and expected big things from her. They thought she was courageous and influential. And she did act when needed, getting results.
It sounds like Adonijah left where he was feasting and went to Jerusalem to the altar to cling for protection.
So I always try to ask, So what? What can be learned, applied, remembered? Why did the Living, Sovereign God give me this scripture at this time?
I'll have to mull it over. There's a lot here and a lot of strong, colorful personalities. But what leaps to mind is that you cannot short-circuit the will of God. You can lose out on His best for you, He will eventually turn you over to the desires of your heart; but He will not be stopped when He has designed a plan.
Maybe you have really compelling arguments that you think have God backed in a corner..."I'm the oldest son. It's my right."
But His ways are not our ways and our childish little arguments don't override His master plan. He is set on redeeming the world and He will accomplish that despite your (my) best debating skills.
Thy Will be Done, Oh Lord. Amen.