Archive for the ‘11-1 Kings’ Category

1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 2 of 3)
Solomon Establishes His Rule

Joab was quite the character in David’s kingdom, was he not? But to be fair, his actions, though loathsome, are all too familiar to us. He’s what you might call  a “political pragmatist”. He makes his own way! He is keenly aware of who stands in his way. He is the definition of a Machiavellian politician. Machiavellianism is a term that some social, forensic and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to be detach themselves from conventional morality in an effort to achieve their own goals. They are the classic “the end justifies the means” kind of person.

Joab fits that description. He is someone who takes brutal views and a tough guy approach to problems because he thinks that’s the only reasonable way to behave. Joab seeks revenge against Abner, killing him for murdering his brother, and he executes Absalom against David’s orders (though he spins the events to show himself to actually be serving David’s best interests afterwards). His most aggressive act might be when he treacherously guts and kills Amasa, who had replaced Joab as David’s chief general. It’s an extremely jealous and rather mean thing to do. Don’t forget he has the goods on David because he also helps David carry out his treacherous plot to kill Uriah the Hittite. Like David keeps saying about Joab and his brother, Abishai, they’re simply “too violent.” You never see Joab seeking after the Lord but rather trying to politically position himself or to defend the position that he has obtained.

We do not have to go far to see this in the movies. There was the movie, Primary Colors. Primary Colors is a 1998 film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Elaine May was adapted from the novel Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, a thinly-veiled fictional tale that anyone could deduce was about Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992. This film masterfully shows the inside of a political campaign in which morality goes out the window in a no-holes barred attempt to grab the White House. There are no boy scouts in this film. It shows politics is as a dirty a game as the participants are willing to take it. It was certainly an indictment of the Clintons as the “say and do whatever is necessary to win” candidate couple. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether the film is true to the political careers of the main characters of this “fictional” film. It is an indictment of us as the American voting public that we do not require more depth of character and morality from our candidates for public office.

The thing that is striking Joab and the main characters in Primary Colors is how much like him we all can be. We want to control our own destiny. We want to make our own way. We want what we want and we want it now. When it all doesn’t work out for us or we get caught doing the wrong thing, we then turn to God. God is our God of last resort. We often try to figure out every way to fix or solve our problems ourselves as opposed to putting it in God’s hands. When this doesn’t work out for us we decide to turn it over to God, because we have no other option.

Whenever we find ourselves in “a situation”, whether it be small or significant, we typically have multiple choices as to how to handle it. Just look at all the self-help or self-actualization books out there. We all are looking for ways to get a leg-up on our competition. But there is always emptiness that comes with our efforts. There is always somebody to that we have to be weary of. There is always somebody that’s gonna simply be better than us at what we do. There is always going to someone that is better positioned than you. And when you get to where you want to be, as you see it, then it all becomes about defending the fort at that point. It can be maddening and tiring to say the least. We all are aware of these kinds of people in our lives. We may actually be one of these people and not even realize it and, then, like we said, there are plenty, o’ plenty, examples in the political landscape at the federal, state and local levels that you and I can think of immediately. That’s what makes a character study of Joab so topical to us in the 21st century.

It is that type of “making your own destiny at all costs” kind of personality that kind of sums up Joab as he runs to the altar as a last resort that I thought of when I read this passage one more time today. Let’s read this passage together again now:

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[a] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.

In this passage, we remember that Joab had spent his life trying to defend his position as David’s commander of Israel’s armed forces. Twice David tried to replace him, and both times Joab treacherously killed his rivals before they could assume command (See 2 Samuel 3:17-30, 2 Samuel 19:13, and 2 Samuel 20:4-10). Because Joab was in his service, David was ultimately responsible for these senseless deaths. However, for political and military reasons, David decided not to publicly punish Joab. We can suspect that Joab’s political “ace in the hole” with David was his knowledge of the inner workings of the Bathsheba/Uriah incident. Additionally, Joab was far and away the most skilled military tactician that Israel had to offer.

Instead of deposing Joab as he should have done long ago, he put a curse on Joab and his family (see 2 Samuel 3:29). Solomon, in punishing Joab, was publicly declaring that David was not a part of Joab’s crimes, thus removing the guilt from his father’s throne and placing it on Joab where it belonged. It is interesting to note that Joab, usually taking matters into his own hands, runs to God, literally, when he saw no way out of paying for his crimes. With his political games at an end, he runs to God.

How often do we do the same thing? We try to control our own destiny and get upset when things don’t go our way. We worry and we fret about who is doing what and how we can counteract it. We plan and scheme as to how to react to the things that happen in our lives. We take actions that are in our self-interest and no one else’s. We allow pride to determine our reactions to the world around. We allow our self-worth to be defined by our circumstances. When all else fails, we turn to God. We try everything our way first and then we turn to God just as Joab does here in this passage. God is only God when we need Him to do something for us. Otherwise, it’s all about us and how we can handle our lives.

When researching for this blog, you know what I ran across, a psalm from David himself. It is my wife’s favorite passage in the Bible. It is from Psalm 121. David writes the following:

I lift up my eyes to the hills –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you –
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm –
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Are you tired of trying to control your destiny which is not yours to control? Are you just tired of the rat race of actions and reactions and more actions and reactions after that? Are you tired of the latest self-help book that inspires you for a couple of weeks then leaves you empty and right back where you started from? Is it not time to trust your life to the Lord? Is it not time to have a real, day-to-day relationship with Him? Is it not time to go deeper in your trust in the Lord? Are you tired of constantly worrying about what you’ve got to do to react to the world around you? Have you ever really placed your life and your entire trust in the Lord? The Lord provides for those who trust and obey. How real is your trust in the Lord? There’s an old saying that is almost cliché now in Christian circles, but it is something that we really should take heart in, “Let go and let God!” Do you trust him? Really trust him?

Or do you want to continue living the life of Joab, forever fearful, forever protecting your turf, forever putting fingers in the leaking dam of your life? Let go. Let God.

Amen and Amen.

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1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 1 of 3)
Solomon Establishes His Rule

Man, there is a lot of stuff going in this passage. It reads like some CIA spy novel where agents are part of some political coup in some third world country so that a ruler that is allied with our country takes the throne. Political intrigue fit for a modern-day novel taking place right here in the Bible. But what does this sequence in 1 Kings 2:13-46 tell us that we can use today in our world.

The lesson I think is two-fold and I am personally in a season of learning both. One is that we must not just talk trust in the Lord but actually do it. In this passage, Solomon actions demonstrate his trust in the Lord. The other lesson is about having discernment. Solomon saw through the claims of his enemies and discerned what their true motives were.

First, we must keep the main the main thing. What do I mean by that? Adonijah was trying to divert attention away from what the main thing was – Solomon was the chosen king. He wanted the glory for himself as if he had some right of his stolen away. He was so focused on himself that he was unwilling to accept his dad’s and God’s choice to king – Solomon. He was not willing to submit himself to authority. He would rather go down to death than to humbly submit to the leadership that had been put in place over him. We all could learn a lesson from this. God has you and I where we are to learn what we need to learn for what He has in store for us. Case in point, recently, in college football is brought to my mind. As many of you know, I am a rabid Clemson University football fan. If you follow college football, you know that Clemson is very successful at football. Out of the four years so far that there has been a college football playoff, the Tigers have been in the last three playoffs. Though they lost in the semifinal round last year, the previous two years they won one national championship and nearly won the year before that. All in all, there is only one college football team, Alabama, that has had more victories during the past 8 seasons than the Clemson Tigers. Last year, there was a transition from all-everything quarterback, Deshaun Watson, to last year’s starter, Kelly Bryant. Kelly led the team to the college football playoffs last year but performed miserably in last year’s semifinal game against Alabama. And then this year, the highest rated high school quarterback in the nation, Trevor Lawrence, came to campus and pushed for starting time. He is that talented as a freshman. Through the first 4 games, Kelly Bryant was the starter each game but Trevor was getting a good bit of playing time. After Trevor’s performance in Game 4 and Kelly’s rather lackluster performance in that same game, Trevor was named starter for Game 5.

Instead of handling it well and accepting that Trevor would get the start (and knowing that Kelly would still get plenty of playing time), Kelly decided to quit the team and announce that he was going sit out the rest of the season and transfer to another school where he could be the starter in the 2019 season. If you are a fan of college football, you have seen this play out in the media quite a bit here in the last few weeks. Although Kelly is not one of those spoiled brat college football players (he is actually a really smart, good kid who was one of the leaders of the team), he did in this situation let his team down and acted impetuously. Sure, Trevor is much more talented than he is but he had a role to play on the team and the team is somewhat weakened by his selfish behavior. That is what came to mind here today as I was reading about Adonijah. Most assuredly, he would have a role to play in Solomon’s kingdom. He was part of the family of David. But Adonijah selfishly wanted to be king and did not think he should be supplanted by his younger brother. There’s a lesson here both from Kelly Bryant and Adonijah for us all. Sometimes, we must accept where God has placed and live in that place and do whatever it takes to support the team we are on. God has a purpose in our roles at the present time and he is teaching us something that we will need to understand as we grow in our faith, in roles, and in our leadership. Kelly and Adonijah did not trust that the Lord would provide for them so they both took matters into their own hands.

Second, we should have discernment about what is going on before us. This discernment is about ourselves as much as it about anyone else. We must analyze our frustrations, hurts, slights, and determine why we feel that way. Is it ego? Is it pride? Is it immaturity? We always must examine our own starting place before we examine others. Sure, like Solomon, we must be wise about analyzing advice given or requested in light of Scripture. We must compare motives of others to Scripture. The Holy Spirit will convict us by that “check in our spirit” about someone if they are not acting in accord with Scripture.

However, the more sly way we often hurt ourselves is through our own pride. Pride blinds us to our blind spots. Pride blinds us to what we need to learn. Pride often short-circuits God’s plan for our lives. We need to examine ourselves when we don’t get our way. Adonijah should have went to the Lord in prayer to seek answers rather than acting so impetuously. Kelly Bryant at Clemson, in my mind, should have really thought this thing through for a week or two. Immediate knee jerk reactions caused by hurt pride are often wrong decisions. On the other side of the coin, discernment is outward as well. When it comes to the motives of others, the real motives are always ultimately revealed. When it comes to our own motives, that seems harder to see for us. Prayer is the only thing that I have found that leads to true discernment about others and then ESPECIALLY about ourselves.

So this passage has two things in it today (among the many things) that struck me – having the innocence to trust the Lord really, truly, deeply and having prayer-inspired discernment about others and especially about ourselves. Let’s read this passage together now:

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[a] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.

This passage is oh so valuable to us I think. I will revisit this passage two more times. Today, we looked at Adonijah. In the next blog, we look at Joab and the one after that we will look at Shimei. But today’s lesson shows us that we must trust the Lord and be discerning about our own motives as to why we are taking the actions we are taking. Is it pride that is causing us to act the way we are? When we are acting out of hurt pride, we are often failing to trust the Lord in what He has in store for us. Sure, sometimes, people want to hurt us but more often than not, it is our pride and lack of trust in the Lord that causes us to take certain destructive courses of action. This passage really teaches us that we must examine our motives for what we are about to do. Adonijah’s pride caused him to try to thwart God’s ordained plan and he ended up dead. For Kelly Bryant at Clemson, he is now going to sit out for a season and probably end up at a school that is not near as successful as Clemson for what? Pride. All of us have situations in our lives where we let pride lead us to foolish decisions rather than seeing what God is trying to prepare us for in our futures. Let us think on that today. What foolish decisions have I made or are about to make because of pride rather than seeking and learning what God is trying to teach us.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 2:1-12 (Part 2 of 2)
David’s Final Instructions to Solomon

Yesterday, I talked about some big picture advice that my dad gave me about 15 years ago that has stuck with me ever since. Today, I am going to bring it down a notch. There were things that my dad taught me, too, that were extremely practical. And, man, there were a lot of those. The biggest one being “screws tighten to the right and loosen to the left.” Some people call it “righty tighty; lefty loosey” but my dad used the more eloquent version! LOL! You know, I think about that advice every time I have to use a screw. I mean how many times do you have to drive a screw into something or loosen a screw out of something in a lifetime. That was sage advice, man!

That advice reminds me of big picture things too. In this universe created by God, there as some immutable laws that he set into motion at creation that will forever operate on this side of eternity until Jesus returns someday to establish his eternal kingdom on earth. One of those immutable laws is the fact that screws tighten to the right and loosen to the left. Sure, screws are man made and the law is created by the downward helix design of screws. However, the principle of tightening and binding things together or loosening things already bound together by a screw stand on top of things that man learned about how the universe operates. The design of a screw follows how God designed the human arms and hands. Did you know? I found this at Quora.com. This was really eye-opening…um…well…the whole eye-opening thing would be another blog…LOL! But for now:

The reason that screws are designed to tighten to the right and loosen to the left is because of the design of our arm muscle, the bicep. The bicep muscle – the strongest muscle in our arm – actually has two functions:

1) flexion of the arm and
2) supination (which is the motion used when screwing in a screw clockwise).

The supination action comes from the fact that a portion of the biceps muscle wraps around the base of the forearm, and when this muscle is flexed, it rotates the forearm inward so that the arm supinates (rotates from the hand-down direction to the hand-up direction, clockwise).

The biceps muscle being as strong as it is makes the clockwise direction of turning your right hand able to use much more strength than the counterclockwise action, which is called pronation. The pronation action can only be done with a relatively small and weak muscle called the pronator teres and another small muscle called the pronator quadratus. Also, the mechanism by how the pronator teres pronates the hand, by pulling the radius over the ulna, is a much weaker way to turn something than how the biceps does it, which wraps around the forearm and so twists the arm quickly just as if you are pulling on a yoyo or pulling up on a carpet under someone’s feet.

So there you go! Now, you know. There are universal laws in operation that were observed when designing the screw – the thing that binds stuff together, a basic necessity of construction in highly developed societies.

These are immutable laws of the universe that our dad’s teach us. They are necessary lessons in life that our dad’s teach us. Our mom’s love us unconditionally and teach us about the softer side of life, about caring and compassion, and the beautiful things in life. Our dads teach us the cold, hard facts about life. Our dads teach us that the world is rough place and that it is often completely unfair. Our dads teach us that when we fall down in the real world, mom is not going to be there to fix every boo boo and that we have to sometimes quit crying, get up, accept what happened and move on. Our dads teach us real world, practical advice that will help us survive in the cruel world out there. Typically, a dads wish is not so much that their children be wealthy and successful but rather that they will be able to take care of themselves when they get out on their own. For me, that is true with my kids. Although they are smart and educated, that is not what drives me about my girls. I want them to be well-adjusted, productive citizens that know how the world works and can survive and thrive in it when I am gone. Whatever path they take in that pursuit whether that’s making millions or teaching school or working in retail management or whatever, I just want them to be able to make their own way and be well-adjusted and productive when I am gone.

Whatever advise I can give along the way in practical matters to help them get there, I will do that. That is what David is doing here in this passage. After the big picture advice of following God and keeping His ways, David follows it up with some day-to-day practical advice about things he is going to face immediately as king. That’s what dads do. That’s why dad taught me “righty tighty, lefty loosey” and so many other practical things that I could fill volumes but do not have time here. Let’s read this passage now with an eye toward the practical advice given.

Chapter 2
1 As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:

2 “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. 3 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. 4 If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’

5 “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace,[a] staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood.[b] 6 Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.[c]

7 “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom.

8 “And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. 9 But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.[d]”

10 Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. 11 David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

As we revisit this passage one more time, we see that David had some harsh advice for Solomon concerning his enemies. This advice was designed to help the young king establish and secure his throne, and it was directed only toward blatant enemies – those who opposed God by opposing the anointed king Legally, David was asking Solomon to give his enemies the punishment they deserved. It was against the law, for example for Shimei to curse a king and it was against the law for Joab to commit murder during a time of peace. For Joab, winning was everything. He wanted to get power for himself and protect his position.

In contrast, David’s advice about Barzillai was to honor him for he stood loyal to God and live by his standards. When offered glory, he unselfishly deferred it to his son. This advice given by David was necessary information for his son to be able to wise in his rule. David’s experience is being passed on to his son. David is trying to get his son to see that he must be discerning about people and understand whether they are motivated by personal, ego-driven motives or by God-honoring humble service.

Man, what practical advice David gives Solomon. Stuff he needs to know. Maybe, he already knew or had a feeling about these things but hearing it from his wise, old dad certainly confirmed it. That is what a dad does. We express our love for our children by preparing them for the real world. As dads, it is our duty not to sugar coat the world for our kids. We have a duty to prepare them for the way the world really operates. We do it gradually over time so that when they get out there on their own, they can survive and thrive in a universe that has immutable laws that will not change. Without knowledge of how the world really operates, our children will not survive and thrive. It’s our duty as dads to give them the practical day to day advice that they need to survive in the world. Righty tighty; lefty loosey is just one of them.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 2:1-12 (Part 1 of 2)

David’s Final Instructions to Solomon

 

It is funny how sometimes there are moments with your dad that you treasure that seemed just ordinary at the time. There was no grand score of music playing in the background that settled into a scene of culmination in a movie. It was just a dad and his youngest son sitting on the opened gate of dad’s old knock around truck that he used to have for hauling things. Not his primary vehicle but just an old Dodge truck that had outlasted several of his primary vehicles. We were just sitting on the tailgate of the truck, dad and his son. It was a particularly rough time for me. I was going through a divorce and life kind of sucked at the time. I was in a tailspin because all I had known for decade was changed. I was living in the past while walking toward the future. I was dating but none of it was making me complete and fulfilled. Life was just in a nervous state of anxiousness for me. I was living for approval of women and defined myself by that. When there was no evidence of any potential for a long-term relationship, I felt lost and adrift. Even I had been a Christ follower for about 2 ½ years at that point, I was still young and oh so immature in my faith. So, there were so many things, basic things, that God had to change my perspective on. One of the ways God does that is through the advice of godly people in your life.

 

For all my dad’s imperfections, he does love the Lord. He has many human flaws but he is a man of God who served as a preacher in Methodist Churches all over South Carolina for 55 years (as of his retirement a few years ago). And he and I used to have some great talks over the years when it was just me and him. This night was one of those. I was struggling. You know those times when you are so depressed and out of sorts that your body aches. You know those times where it is a struggle to get up in the morning and face another day of the hole that you are in. My dad gave me advice that night that didn’t take hold immediately but I referred back to it over the coming years after that, many times. He was a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of dad and that was part of the advice. I needed to get a hold of myself and move on with life. Dust yourself off and point yourself toward the future. However, the most profound part was when he said that I needed to stop finding my personal value through another person. He said you have let the women in your life define who you are to yourself. He said that I needed to stop that or I was going to be on a rollercoaster for the rest of my life. He said when you make another person your god and allow that person’s feelings toward you define who you are, you are going to live a life of moment to moment with no constancy and no security. When you let someone become your god, you are living a life of works to please and appease that god. It is not what God intended. He said that I needed to learn that I am of great value to God regardless of whether I am in a relationship or single. He gave me advice that I needed to hear.

 

Although I shrugged it off at the time, over time, I realized that my dad was speaking God’s Word to me. It was big picture advice. It was the first commandment – You shall have no other gods before me. I had made the woman in my life, whomever it may have been over the years up to that point, my god. I lived and died by their approval of me. That is making an idol. That is having a god before the Lord God Almighty. It is something that changed my life. I now have a healthy relationship with a woman, my wife, Elena, and it is the first healthy relationship with a woman that I have had in my lifetime. That’s some big picture advice, God speaking through another person, my dad. That was some big picture advice sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up truck at my dad’s lake house some 14 years ago that I still think of today when I get all wrapped up in the need for approval and acceptance. My value come from the Lord not from man (or woman, as the case may be).

 

 

2 As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:

 

2 “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. 3 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. 4 If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’

 

5 “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace,[a] staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood.[b] 6 Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.[c]

 

7 “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom.

 

8 “And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. 9 But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.[d]”

 

10 Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. 11 David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

 

In this passage, we see that David stressed to Solomon the need to make God and his laws the center of personal life and government in order to preserve his kingdom, as God promised to do (see 2 Samuel 7). This promise from God had two parts. One was conditional and dependent on the actions of the one who sat on the throne of Israel. The other part was unconditional. God’s conditional promise was that David and his descendants would remain in office as kings only when they honored and obeyed Him. When David’s descendants failed to do so, they lost the throne (see 2 Kings 25). God’s unconditional promise was that David’s line would go on forever. This was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, whose earthly lineage traces back to David and who is the eternal Son of God (see Romans 1:3-4). David, whose life exemplified an overarching desire to obey the Lord, gave well-seasoned advice to his son, the next king. It would be up to Solomon to follow it.

 

Similarly, my dad gave me some godly advice 14 years ago and it was up to me whether I was going to follow it or not. It was tough to hear but I knew it was true. I had lived my life putting something else before God and as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Not so much, as Chandler on Friends would say. I am sure that when Solomon reflected back on his life in his declining years he went back to this moment in this passage and said I should have followed my dad’s advice. I am sure glad that my Dad’s words, God speaking through him, found their mark in my soul. Although I have my moments where I screw up and do things that are not in God’s will, I do my best to remember every day that big picture advice while sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck. You shall have no other gods before me.

 

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 1:28-53
David Confirms Solomon as King

Have you ever heard someone say, “he is only remorseful because he got caught!” when speaking of someone who has committed a wrong and has been caught doing it. That’s the case here with Adonijah. Knowing what we know about the rest of the book of 1 Kings already, we know that Adonijah ultimately rebels again against the kingship of his brother Solomon and ends up being executed. But here in this passage, he seems contrite and accepts the grace of his brother and goes on home.

When I was a teenager, although I was not a bad seed and never was in trouble with the law, never did badly at school (I graduated high school with a 3.4 GPA, basically a 5 A’s and a B kind of student each 9 week grading period), but I pushed the boundaries of my dad’s hard and fast rules of behavior on every occasion I could. I was that classic preacher’s kid who was a little on the anti-authoritarian side. I remember right after we moved to Travelers Rest, SC (TR) (where my dad’s next appointment as a United Methodist Church preacher in South Carolina was located), me and one my buddies from the town we just moved from (Anderson, SC) who had came up to visit got bored during his summertime visit. We proceeded to walk around what was a small town then in the mid-70’s, TR. We got it in our teenage heads (me, age 14, and my buddy, age 13) that it would be a good idea to see what we could get away with that day. One thing was to vandalize the local elementary school building (it was summertime and nobody was there but the 12-month employees). For some reason, that I cannot figure out all these years later, was why we thought this was a good idea. But I am 56 now and I think so much differently than I did at age 14. But at age 14, it seemed like a good idea to see what we could get away with. Well, we vandalized and we got spotted and we ran. We ran to the local convenience store right down the street from the school – dumb mistake. By going inside, we cornered ourselves and the local police just came in and got us. Talk about being embarrassed. Talk about being fearful. Talk about a small town potential scandal for my dad who just moved to town as the pastor of the local United Methodist church.

Since small town TR did not have a detention facility and particularly for underage boys, we were transferred to the custody of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Department and taken to their law enforcement center (LEC) in downtown Greenville. All the while, I was worried about going to jail and worried about my steely blue-eyed dad whose stares could bore a hole through you when he was mad at you. I was more worried about the punishment than the crime. No matter what happened with the law I knew that my dad was going to eat my lunch, so to speak. Finally, my dad came to get us at the LEC. And, yes, those steel blue eye bore holes through me when he saw me. He said nothing until we got in the car. He was so mad at me. I could feel the tension in the car on the way home. He finally spoke and none of it was flattering. He spoke of how stupid I was. He spoke of how he had raised me to know better than to do such stupid things. I dreaded this drive home almost as much as being in the LEC. Needless to say, my friend’s dad had to make the hour’s drive up from Anderson to TR to pick up his son. And oh my, the two dads together let us have it and talked of all the punishments that we would have to suffer separately and the fact that we would not see each other for a long time after this. This day and night go down as one of several seminal bad days in my life. It certainly was the worst day of my life to that point at age 14.

Hanging over both of us for the next six weeks or so was the upcoming pre-trial intervention meeting with the youth offender’s county official/attorney. Since we had no prior criminal record, the case was diverted into the county’s pre-trial intervention program. During that meeting, I learned that my friend’s dad and my dad had paid to have the damage that we had caused to the school repaired and that no charges would be filed against us. We would not have that hanging over us the rest of our lives. Oh what joy that brought my heart. Up until that point, I was more concerned about having been caught and what the possible punishment for that would be than what I had done wrong. In that sense, I was like Adonijah in this passage.

However, that day, I was shown grace by so many people that saw me as a kid with potential that did not need to be marred for life by a stupid mistake at age 14. How different would my life had been if I had not been shown grace that day back in 1976? I shutter to think about it. At that moment, I realized that I had done wrong and that I had been graciously forgiven for it. Not that I deserved it in anyway. I deserved whatever punishment that came from it. Not only did my friend and I get shown grace that Monday morning in the Fall of 1976 in the face of the law but my dad and my friend’s dad took us down to Anderson, SC that day and celebrated with a day on Lake Hartwell where my friend and I water-skied all day long. Not only did we get shown grace but we were shown a banquet of sorts by doing what my friend and I loved most at that time in our lives – skiing on Lake Hartwell, our water home. The moment was not lost on me then and especially not now as a middle-aged man. What grace was shown us that day! My friend and I are forever thankful and grateful for the grace shown us that day. What great love was shown us that day. We didn’t deserve it but we got it. It changed our thought process about life that is for certain. No longer were we kids after that day. We did understand what we deserved and how by miracle of our parents we had been shown grace. After that, we drew back from our “pushing the envelope” teenage ways because we had been shown grace. Life was altered that day – for the better.

That’s what I thought of this morning, how my event back in 1976 was similar to what happened with Adonijah. He had done wrong obviously but Solomon showed him grace. Then, what matters after that is what we do with our grace. As we shall see, in a future passage in 1 Kings, that Adonijah did not heed the grace that was given him. He simply saw it as getting a reprieve but there was no life change. Let’s read the passage now, 1 Kings 1:28-53:

28 Then King David said, “Call in Bathsheba.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him.

29 The king then took an oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30 I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”

31 Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

32 King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.”

36 Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. 37 As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!”

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.

41 Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they were finishing their feast. On hearing the sound of the trumpet, Joab asked, “What’s the meaning of all the noise in the city?”

42 Even as he was speaking, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest arrived. Adonijah said, “Come in. A worthy man like you must be bringing good news.”

43 “Not at all!” Jonathan answered. “Our lord King David has made Solomon king. 44 The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites, and they have put him on the king’s mule, 45 and Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon. From there they have gone up cheering, and the city resounds with it. That’s the noise you hear. 46 Moreover, Solomon has taken his seat on the royal throne. 47 Also, the royal officials have come to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his throne greater than yours!’ And the king bowed in worship on his bed 48 and said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.’”

49 At this, all Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and dispersed. 50 But Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went and took hold of the horns of the altar. 51 Then Solomon was told, “Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’”

52 Solomon replied, “If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.” 53 Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, “Go to your home.”

In this passage, we see that Sometimes, it takes getting caught before someone is willing to give up his scheme. When Adonijah learned that his plans were doomed to fail, he ran in panic to the altar, the place of God’s mercy and forgiveness. He went there, however, after his plans for treason were exposed. If Adonijah had first considered what God wanted, he might have avoided trouble. So, in getting the process backwards, Adonijah thought he would be safe by clutching the horns (or corner posts) of the sacred altar of burnt offering in the Tabernacle court. By doing this, he hoped to place himself under God’s protection. Solomon granted Adonijah a reprieve, hoping this grace-filled act would end Adonijah’s conspiracy. Unfortunately, as we shall see in a future passage here in 1 Kings, it did not, and Adonijah was later executed.

What road are you on my friend? Do you need to be shown what could be in your life? Do you need to be brought to the edge of the cliff of hell? Are you one who can understand that God is trying to get in touch with your heart and change your path? Any grace that you have been shown so far – do you see it? Or do you see it as having been lucky and are hellbent on continuing your current lifestyle? Or are you one who thinks that because of the bad things that you have done, you are beyond the reach of God’s grace? The thing is here in this passage is what you do with your grace? All of us are sinners to the core. All of us, even those of us who are in fellowship with Jesus Christ as our Savior, are sinners who do not deserve grace. One sin taints us, not to mention our lifetimes of one sin piled on top of another. If we were literally on trial for our sins, and tried to claim that our sin for which we are being tried, God would bring out the evidence of our lifetime of sins. We are habitual sinners. We are addicts in need of a fix when it comes to sin. We have no excuse before God, our righteous Judge. We cannot claim that it was a one-time thing and we can throw ourselves at the mercy of the court because of that. Nothing can be repaid by us to make things right. We are no longer pure with our first sin. And then the purity is further and further degraded with each and every sin that we commit daily.

It is only through Jesus Christ that we are set free from the penalty of our sin. We are given a pardon and are set free only through Jesus. He died on the cross so that we would not have to suffer the consequence of our sins. All we have to do is cry out to Him to take over our life and cover us in His redemptive grace. He will come to us before the Judge of All Things and say I have paid the price for His sins, Father. Please let this one go. He is mine. Just as our earthly fathers did for us back that day in 1976, they paid the price for us to be set free. Just as our earthly fathers wanted us not to have permanent scars that follow and dog us for the rest of our lives, Jesus does the same for us. He cleanses us through His sacrifice and makes us pure and spotless before the Judge.

And even more surprising than that, we are treated to the banquet with the saints much as the prodigal son was by his father in the parable. We are treated as if we have simply come on and we are celebrated as being a member of Jesus’ banquet table. We are made worthy to be at the table through his grace. Just as me and my friend were shown a day of fun in the September sun on Lake Hartwell as if we were being celebrated, so too can you and attend the banquet of the King, Jesus Christ, with all rights and all honors accorded to a child of God (even though we certainly do not deserve such treatment) through the grace of Jesus Christ. You have a place at the table of celebration. Come home to Jesus.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 1:5-27 (Part 2 of 2)
Adonijah Claims the Throne

Oh the mistakes that you make as parents! It’s a wonder that our kids make it through our parenting. As the old saying goes, “children do not come with instruction booklets!” What works with one child may not work with another. Add divorce situations into the mix and parenting becomes even more complex. My relationship with my youngest child is one that I made more than my share of mistakes. She was only about three years old when the ugly end of my first marriage came. Within 2 years I had remarried, and my second wife and her kids were so jealous of my relationship with my own kids that in order to keep the peace in that household I distanced myself from my own kids. For fear of being accused of favoritism and to keep the lovin’ coming from my then-wife, I only did what I absolutely had to for my girls. I did not have the kahunas to stand up to my second wife and her kids and say these are my girls and I am going to love them no matter what you say. All these blended family jealousies were ultimately the undoing of that marriage.

After the end of that marriage, Taylor was 14 and Meghan was 16. Meghan had her own thing going on at that point so my weekend visitations were with Taylor and I spoiled her rotten to make up for so many years of ignoring her. I gave her anything she wanted when she wanted it. Combine that with her mom’s own spoiling of this child, Taylor really never had any restraints. She grew up expecting that she would be taken care of and had no incentive to do things on her own. She had that classic entitlement mentality. So much so that she did not get her first job until she was almost 20 years old. Even then she did not make enough money to survive on her own. She would $50 me to death along with the other forms of support that I provided her. Finally when she was around 25 years ago, I finally cut off all financial support to her and that has altered our relationship for these last 3 years. She has barely spoken to me over the last three years. When she does it is only when she has an absolute dire financial emergency. The last time that I spoke to her face to face was in November 2017 when Elena and I gave her Elena’s car. Since then, she has missed every family event and will not communicate with me. She has not even come to visit my dad since his diagnosis with lymphoma. I honestly do not know what to do about it. I mean I love this child with all my heart and I have not done anything that I know of to deserve her “radio silence” over the last year and the periods of silence before that. I just keep praying that whatever Taylor-built walls that Taylor has built between herself and the rest of the family and particularly me will be broken somehow.

I know that mistakes were made in her parenting. Both my first wife, her mom, and I were way too easy on her. She was always handed the world on a silver platter. She never had to work for anything. Sure, my second marriage was not good for my kids and I know that. However, that’s all ancient history now. They have a stepmom who loves them unconditionally now in Elena. So, to any parents reading this out there now. Please think long and hard before you have kids. When you do, make sure that you show them equal parts unconditional love and strict discipline. I regret the mistakes that I made with Taylor and pray that whatever it is that is keeping her from our relationship right now will end and that she comes to me and says that she wants back into my life.

My relationship with my own child, my youngest, came to mind as I read today’s passage about Adonijah claiming the throne. As we know from this passage, he was given much and disciplined little, just as was the case with all of David’s kids. Again, we see how spoiling your child with no restraints will only cause them to be unruly when they grow up. Let’s read for the second time the latest sad story in this series of sad stories when it comes to David and his kids:

5 About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. 6 Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome.

7 Adonijah took Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest into his confidence, and they agreed to help him become king. 8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s personal bodyguard refused to support Adonijah.

9 Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth[a] near the spring of En-rogel, where he sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves. He invited all his brothers—the other sons of King David—and all the royal officials of Judah. 10 But he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguard or his brother Solomon.

11 Then Nathan went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and asked her, “Haven’t you heard that Haggith’s son, Adonijah, has made himself king, and our lord David doesn’t even know about it? 12 If you want to save your own life and the life of your son Solomon, follow my advice. 13 Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you make a vow and say to me, “Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14 And while you are still talking with him, I will come and confirm everything you have said.”

15 So Bathsheba went into the king’s bedroom. (He was very old now, and Abishag was taking care of him.) 16 Bathsheba bowed down before the king.

“What can I do for you?” he asked her.

17 She replied, “My lord, you made a vow before the Lord your God when you said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne.’ 18 But instead, Adonijah has made himself king, and my lord the king does not even know about it. 19 He has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited Abiathar the priest and Joab, the commander of the army. But he did not invite your servant Solomon. 20 And now, my lord the king, all Israel is waiting for you to announce who will become king after you. 21 If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals as soon as my lord the king has died.”

22 While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. 23 The king’s officials told him, “Nathan the prophet is here to see you.”

Nathan went in and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 24 Nathan asked, “My lord the king, have you decided that Adonijah will be the next king and that he will sit on your throne? 25 Today he has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. They are feasting and drinking with him and shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he did not invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or your servant Solomon. 27 Has my lord the king really done this without letting any of his officials know who should be the next king?”

In this passage, we see that, because David had never interfered by opposing or even questioning his son, Adonijah did not know how to work within limits. The result was that he always wanted his own way, regardless of how it affected others. Adonijah did whatever he wanted and paid no respect to others or God’s wishes. An undisciplined child may look cute to the parents, but an undisciplined adult spreads havoc and self-destructs. As you set limits for your children, you make it possible for them to develop self-restraint they will need in order to control themselves in adulthood. Discipline your children carefully while they are young so that they will grow into self-disciplined adults.

I think David would agree with all of this as he lies on his deathbed. He had to think that if he had been tougher on his kids, he would not have had half the trouble he had in his kingship. So let us learn from David to raise our children with limits and with discipline so that they will one day return to us as adults and tell us thank you for molding them into well-rounded, high-functioning adults. I pray that one day, Taylor and I can have a conversation like that no matter how long it takes for it happen. All a parent ever wants is for their kids to be able to function without them after they are dead and gone. It all starts when they are young, at home, and moldable by us, our love and our discipline.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 1:5-27 (Part 1 of 2)
Adonijah Claims the Throne

How much do I blame on my dad and how much blame do I place on myself? Why is it that a preacher’s kid does not come to Jesus Christ as His Savior until he was 39 years old? I think there is enough blame for both of us. In this day and age where nobody takes the blame for anything, often blaming it on their parents, I think my dad and I both can share the blame.

First, let me say that I love my dad dearly. When I was growing up, he was a tough but loving man. I knew when I had crossed the line with him. His discipline was firm and unflinching. The boundaries, the lines in the sand, for our behavior were unchanging and did not move. If you crossed the line, you paid for it in one way or another – always. He was consistent. However, he would play ball with us. He would wrestle with us. He would take us to ball games. It is from him that I got my passion for football, particularly college football. We would have great conversations about life. I have no fault with my father as to how he raised me. He provided us with a good life growing up. Sure, I didn’t have everything I wanted but hey standing here at age 56, it did not crush me. It was a good life growing up.

When we were little, I think he spent more time discipling us than he did as we grew into preteens and teens. Maybe, he thought we had gotten it. Maybe, those public professions of growth such as confirmation classes and such, maybe, he was assured that we had accepted Christ as our Savior and that we were maturing in faith. I don’t know but it seems that he took his hands off as far as discipling his children when I was about 10-11-12 somewhere in there. From that point on, it was up to us to want to seek Jesus Christ.

For me, personally (I cannot speak for my older brother), that meant that I was on my own in my faith (other than the influence of godly men in the churches dad served). For me, that meant drifting away from Christ – whom I had never truly accepted as my Savior and Lord. Oh I knew Jesus, the songs of traditional church, the Sunday school classes, I knew the general trek of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. One of my favorite movies (and still is) is the mini-series that came on NBC in 1979 and has been repeated many times since then, was Jesus of Nazareth. So, I knew the story. It was not like I was kid from a family that had not been to church in 2 or 3 generations and knew nothing at all of Jesus Christ. I knew the story but I did not know the faith, the life-transforming faith. To me, church was the family business. When church was open, we were there. Church was the topic of dinner table conversations. Church was everywhere for me. I became numb to it I guess. It was just not transformative to me. It was just the water in which my life was soaked. I considered myself a church-going Christian because…well…my dad was a preacher. How could I not be a Christian? In college though, my faith was shaken because it was so shallow to begin with. It made me question the validity of what I had heard and generally believed all my life.

After college, I had fashioned a Jesus Christ that was not so much the miracle man and Son of God that He really is but a radical philosopher. I had de-deified Him. He was a great man. The greatest of all time. He was a guy who changed the world with mere words and no army. I loved that about Him – a world changing radical rabbi who spoke of love and not hate, peace and not war. That was my Jesus, a cool dude that changed it all. I did not buy all the Son of God stuff. I thought of all the miracle stuff as fiction. I thought of all this Savior stuff and just one of the alternatives of many religions. I did not see him as He really is – the only way, the only truth and the only life. Besides, we Jesus being just a human that meant I could pick and choose what I wanted to believe that suited my lifestyle. Situational ethics and Jesus and me having a deal with each other allowed me to live in my favorite sins without having to change. It was not until I was 39 years old that I came to grips with my true state as a sinner before God and my need for forgiveness that can only be gained through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God in the flesh, Emmanuel.

If I fault my dad for anything, it would be that he did not challenge us about our faith. Whether it would have made any difference, I do not know. But my beliefs about Jesus Christ and Christianity were flawed and had no depth. It was on a shaky foundation. I just believed that I believed because I lived inside the church life. It was maybe an assumption of my dad that I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Maybe, he felt that it would be by osmosis that I would become a Christ follower. Maybe he spent so much of himself with his church people that when he got home he didn’t want to be a preacher. He just wanted to be Ralph Bowling, Jr. Sometimes, we have to not assume that our kids are getting it. Sometimes, we have to challenge them about their so-called faith. Just because you have them in church every Sunday does not mean that they “get it!” I am not mad at my dad by any means. Ultimately, I am responsible for my own standing before God. I cannot blame anyone for anything when I stand before God. I am responsible for how I responded to the gospel. Not my dad. Not my mom. Not my brother. Not my wife. Not my best friend. Not anybody. Just me.

That’s the thing that I thought about this morning is how as parents we may think that our kids will get this Christ follower thing by being in our mere presence. It is no guarantee. Just as just being in their life does not lead to discipline, we must act to raise them up right. So, too, we must challenge our kids to own their own faith. That thought pattern flowed through my head this morning as I read this passage about David’s continuing troubles with those darn kids of his. David was very hands-off and uninvolved when it came to his kids and he paid for it dearly throughout their adult lives. Let’s read the latest sad story in this series of sad stories when it comes to David and his kids:

5 About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, “I will make myself king.” So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. 6 Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, “Why are you doing that?” Adonijah had been born next after Absalom, and he was very handsome.

7 Adonijah took Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest into his confidence, and they agreed to help him become king. 8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and David’s personal bodyguard refused to support Adonijah.

9 Adonijah went to the Stone of Zoheleth[a] near the spring of En-rogel, where he sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves. He invited all his brothers—the other sons of King David—and all the royal officials of Judah. 10 But he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the king’s bodyguard or his brother Solomon.

11 Then Nathan went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and asked her, “Haven’t you heard that Haggith’s son, Adonijah, has made himself king, and our lord David doesn’t even know about it? 12 If you want to save your own life and the life of your son Solomon, follow my advice. 13 Go at once to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, didn’t you make a vow and say to me, “Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14 And while you are still talking with him, I will come and confirm everything you have said.”

15 So Bathsheba went into the king’s bedroom. (He was very old now, and Abishag was taking care of him.) 16 Bathsheba bowed down before the king.

“What can I do for you?” he asked her.

17 She replied, “My lord, you made a vow before the Lord your God when you said to me, ‘Your son Solomon will surely be the next king and will sit on my throne.’ 18 But instead, Adonijah has made himself king, and my lord the king does not even know about it. 19 He has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited Abiathar the priest and Joab, the commander of the army. But he did not invite your servant Solomon. 20 And now, my lord the king, all Israel is waiting for you to announce who will become king after you. 21 If you do not act, my son Solomon and I will be treated as criminals as soon as my lord the king has died.”

22 While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. 23 The king’s officials told him, “Nathan the prophet is here to see you.”

Nathan went in and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 24 Nathan asked, “My lord the king, have you decided that Adonijah will be the next king and that he will sit on your throne? 25 Today he has sacrificed many cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and he has invited all the king’s sons to attend the celebration. He also invited the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. They are feasting and drinking with him and shouting, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he did not invite me or Zadok the priest or Benaiah or your servant Solomon. 27 Has my lord the king really done this without letting any of his officials know who should be the next king?”

In this passage, we see that even in his old age near death, David is still having to deal with his unruly children. This passage reminds us that God-fearing like David were used to lead nations. Nevertheless, he had problems in family relationships. God-fearing leaders cannot take for granted the spiritual well-being of their children. They cannot expect their children to manufacture faith upon request. Moral and spiritual character take years to build and it requires constant attention, patience and discipline.

We cannot simply assume by living next to our children that they will be like us. We cannot assume that by being an honest and hard working person that your kids will grow up to be the same way. We must actively teach them how to be responsible men and women who can operate in the world after they leave home. We must actively instill in them the work ethic, the morals, the fortitude, the stick-to-it-tiveness that is necessary to make in this world. We cannot assume that just watching us will do the trick.

The same is true with the faith of our children. They will not get it by osmosis. They will get it when we actively talk to them, teach them, using life lessons to teach the basics of our faith, to teach them what life was like for us before and after Jesus Christ. We must match our walk with our talk. We cannot just assume that they will pick up on it. We must teach them the reasonableness of our faith. We must teach them how to defend their faith. We must make our faith connect with their hearts AND their minds. We must teach them most of all that Christianity is not about do this and don’t do that. It is about a one-on-one relationship with a Savior, Jesus Christ.

We could extend that beyond our children to everyone we meet. We cannot assume that our neighbors and co-workers are going to be drawn to Christ by observing our actions. Maybe they will be intrigued by them but that will not challenge them. It may interest them but it will not change them. We must at some point actively get into the mess of our neighbors’ and co-workers’ lives and talk about the gospel when we have earned that right – to speak into their lives. They won’t just get it by being near you. You got to engage them with the gospel, challenge them with gospel, love them with the gospel.

Amen and Amen.