“We all went astray like sheep; we have all turned to our own way” (Isa. 53:6) and yet, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22).
This is the great difference between man & God! Man, created in the image of God, is marred by sin and refuses to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Almighty God, until…God, who is Sovereign, Just, and Holy refashions His image within us through His grace and mercy, restoring humanity to a righteous condition as in the Garden before the Fall.
1 Kings 2 is filled with bloodshed! It opens up with David on his deathbed, telling his son Solomon to follow the Lord in all his ways thereby giving proof of his manliness, but then it quickly transitions into a story of retribution and Solomon avenging his father. In this story we find Solomon – who is representative of Jesus – reigning down judgment on all defectors – who are representative of humanity – in the kingdom. However, like the Christ, Solomon suffers long with his rebellious subjects.
He banishes Abiathar. He has Joab, Shimei, and Adonijah killed for their collaboration of sinful behavior. They are co-conspirators in rebellion. And so, in this chapter, we can witness what the scriptures refer to as the “severity” and “kindness” of God (Romans 11:22).
Now, there is a greater lesson for us to learn from this story than what we read in 1 Kings chapter 2. If we look more closely at Solomon’s rise to power we can see a parallel to the life of Jesus and our own lives as well. First, let’s take a closer look at the life of Joab, Shimei, and Abiathar, who each, in their own way, represents the entire human population. Then we will end by focusing on Adonijah and Solomon who are great contradictions of each other just as we are to God.
Joab represents the hard-hearted people of our world. Joab realizes that he has offended the king by his actions and that he is deserving of death, but still he refuses to confess his sins, ask for forgiveness, and repent of his evil. Instead he says, “No, I will die here!” (v.30). “Here”, being a physical location and a spiritual location. I will die “here” in this place at this altar. Also, I will die “here”, in the depth of my sins.
This reminds me of those worldly people who say they want to go out with a bang! They want to die living it up, getting drunk, high, having illicit sex. There is no contrition of the heart; no brokenness over having offended the Holy and Righteous God and therefore they are subject to experiencing a life without the grace, mercy, and redemption of God, just like Joab.
Shimei reminds me of Mark 4:16-17. He receives the word of the king with joy because his life is spared. He says, “What you say is good…and I will obey!” (v.38). So long as the message is fresh within his mind he sees its value, but over time he distances himself from the command of the king and disregards his rule (v.39-40). The seed planted has no depth. Its roots are exposed and susceptible to ruin! So, the king, in his justice and righteousness, is left to fulfill his word – “Did I not make you swear by the Lord and solemnly warn you, saying, Know for certain that on the day you go out and go to any place whatever, you shall die?” (v.39).
Here is the great debate between our flesh and spirit. We may know what the king commands; we may even agree that it is good, but over time we neglect His authority and so, we must suffer for our disobedience.
Abiathar is representative of those few in our day who are hearers and doers of the word of the Lord. Here I see that Abiathar is truly repentant and loses his life that he might gain it again (Luke 17:33). He epitomizes humility and is “saved” because of it. It is no strange thing that of all four offenders Abiathar is the only one who is silent. Joab, Shimei, and Adonijah each give a verbal response to the king, but Abiathar doesn’t utter a word. Unlike the others, Abiathar dies to himself that he might gain his life. Pride has no place in the kingdom of God.
Adonijah’s story is a continuation from chapter one. Adonijah refuses to accept the authority and kingship of Solomon and instead, tries to establish himself as sovereign. Not only are Adonijah’s actions a rebellion against Solomon as the newly appointed king, but ultimately, his actions are a rebellion against the Lord. Look at 1 Kings 2:15-16.
Adonijah even acknowledges that Solomon’s appointment to the throne is ordained by the Lord Himself. Yet, because of pride, he seeks to elevate himself. Could this possibly be why Solomon wrote these words: Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall?
Human-beings are under the impression that we have the moral, legal, and basic right to govern ourselves. Adonijah tells the Queen mother, Bethsheba, “You know that the kingdom is rightfully mine. As a matter-of-fact, all of Israel expected me to be the next king” (v.15). We are convinced that, like Adonijah, we – NOT JESUS- deserves to be king over the throne of our own hearts!
When Solomon becomes king, Adonijah repents and begs for Solomon to have mercy on him (which Solomon does), but Adonijah persists in his sinfulness. (READ 2 Cor. 7:10). Adonijah displays what Paul calls here – “worldly sorrow”, and this is the mindset of the unregenerate.
Personally, I believe that the number one reason why people reject Jesus is because they are convinced that they can control their own lives. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s take the story of the rich young ruler for instance (Matt. 19:16 (17-22). What was the question he asked Jesus? “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus’ response to him was that “only God is good.” What I believe Jesus intends for him, as well as us, to understand here is that, you cannot be “good enough” to inherit eternal life. And this is why people reject Jesus and the Gospel of Jesus, because we have been tricked into believing that if we walk in a straight line God HAS TO welcome us into His kingdom. If I just keep my nose clean, if don’t steal, don’t cheat on my spouse, if I pay my taxes, if I go to church, if I join the choir, if I’m a deacon, if I volunteer to tutor, to be on a committee, if I’m good…God has to accept me. But what does the scriptures say? It is by grace through faith, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9).
You see, we can’t trick God or bully Him into blessing us with eternal life! We have to acknowledge the fact that He alone is King, and we then have to submit ourselves to the fullness of His authority!
Jesus is King and we can either be Abiathar and submit to Him as the Anointed and Divinely appointed King or we can be Adonijah and try to overthrow Him and die! Choose this day whom you will serve.