Kings Lesson 1 - A Kingdom in Crisis
Male leadership begins with Dad. If it fails there and goes unchecked, it spreads to the school, the community, and eventually the highest courts in the land. As one author wrote, 'When authority finally breaks down, and the consequences for breaking authority cease to exist, then chaos is reality.' This is the Kingdom of Israel during 1 Kings 1. It's a kingdom in crisis.
A Kingdom in Crisis
This morning we begin a brand new series of studies through the books of I & II Kings
and I & II Chronicles.
I wonder how many of you have had your devotions lately in the Book of I Chronicles . . .
how many of you know where it is? If I were to say, turn to II Chronicles, how many of
you would immedediatly turn to the table of contents to find the page number . . . or
perhaps begin turning in your Bibles as if you knew what you were doing, praying that
you'd get lucky - and find it before your neighbor does?
Well, you can buy, like I have, these little tabs that are attached to each book of the Bible - so you can immediately, effortlessly turn to any book; if I said, turn to the Book of Amos - no sweat - you can find that tab - and as along as the book hasn't moved, you'll find it quickly, and while everyone around you sweats it out - and you can just sit there smugly and smile at all the ignorant Christians around you. . .such a nice feeling for church.
Well, for now, go ahead and start looking for the Book of I Kings - I'll give you a clue - it's in the Old Testament - so if you're flipping through Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, you're not even warm.
As your pastor/teacher - I want you to know that I have done a little sweating myself over this series. . . I've had some personal reservations - we've just finished the Gospel by John and I have had some 70 volumnes to use as resources from my library. I counted this past week, and discovered that although I have purchased every evangelical commentary on II Chronicles - the number stands at 7.
So the question you could ask, and many preachers have, by the way, "Why take the time to study Books of the Bible that are, for the most part, neglected by the Christian community? These Books that are covered by a layer of hardened soil as people scurry back and forth over them on their way to more "fertile" soil. Let's face it, the pages in our Bibles are still stuck together in that strange location. So why bother?!
Well, there are two reasons:
The first one is personal. 6 years ago I made a committment to the Lord that I would preach and teach through the entire Bible.
I decided to get off the merry go round that pastors are almost forced to ride - to preach the titillating, the popular, the well known passages to their congregations. . .that decision was the result of conviction - in 1988, the church was not even two years old and I had just finished a series; I was in my office asking myself the frustrating age old preachers question - what do I preach on next? What will interest the congregation - what Book or passage contains rich nuggets and fascinating principles . . . I never heard a voice, but I remember that day God's Spirit smiting my spirit with the thought - "What do know about My Word?" "Who are you to say what's interesting; who are you to decide what the flock will need . . . preach through it all."
Ladies and Gentlemen, in these last 6 years, I have found nothing more challenging, sometimes frightening, always rewarding to have started at the beginning.
Now admittedly, as one man commented in the last men's retreat - he said tongue in cheek, that he would be 70 years old before I finished - I told him, "Probably, but I expected him to stay with me the whole way."
There's another reason for teaching through the entire Bible - a much more important reason!
2) God knew what he meant when He said all of the Bible is profitable.
The Spirit of God didn't stutter when He inspired Paul to write in 2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is inspired by God, and (all) is profitable:
Would you hold your finger in I Kings (now that you've found it, you don't dare let it go!) and turn to 2 Timothy chapter 3:16. All (circle "all") scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in reighteousness.
The Bible is entirely profitable for:
1) doctrine: propositional truth - doctrine not only provides for us what to believe but it also has a way of teaches us how to think.
The problem is that we are not thinking correctly - therefore not living correctly; it is impossible to behave Biblically unless we believe Biblically.
By the way, one author I resourced did a survey of all the doctrinal themes presented in these Old Testament Books of Kings and Chronicles: the list was long - but some of his entries included these:
The question is not - is there anything for the believer today in these overlooked Old Testament Books, and do they have anything to say to us today? Oh no! The question is, how have we survived without ever having studied these Books.
Paul goes on to say the Word is profitable for:
2) reproof/rebuke: it tells us where we've strayed and what we've done wrong. The Greek word could be rendered, conviction; refuting error and rebuking sin.
The Word says "No."
Some passages are heavy on the doctrinal side - others on the reproving side. Sometimes the word says No! And it always says "No" for a reason.
Steve Farrar tells the story in his book entitled "Standing Tall" about a family who had taken shelter in the basement as a severe storm passed over their town. The radio warned that a tornado had been spotted. When the storm had passed by, the father opened the front door to look at the damage. A downed power line was dancing about in the street in fronto of their home. Before the father realized what was happening, his five year old daughter ran passed him, and headed for that sparkling wire in the street.
"Laurie, stop!" he yelled.
Laurie just kept going.
Laurie ran right for the enticing cable.
"STOP NOW, Laurie" he screamed as he ran after her.
Little Laurie reached out and picked up that wicked power line and was instantly killed."
A daughter who didn't listen . . . a father who had never said No and meant it.
That story by the way is dramatized in living color with similar tragic consequences in I Kings and following.
Many times the Word will be the only influence in our lives that says "No" . . . while we run toward the enticements; while everyone else around us says "Yes."
Sometimes the scream of scripture will interrupt your self-destructing race. . .it will cut through your heart like a knife and expose your sin. . .if you will listen. . .but the Word doesn't stop there; it does more than just say no. . .it says yes; that's the third word:
3) correction: it tells us what is right and how to return to the correct path; the word literally means "to set upright; to stand us on our feet".
4) training: it shows us how walk and to do what is right
It is patient, yet persistent.
We've reached the stage with our little Charity where we're teaching her how to use a spoon. Its amazing how gifted she is . . . with very little instruction she reaches for the spoon and holds it in her chubby little hand and dip it into her food and then, with incredible skill and coordination, she turns the spoon upside down just before it reaches her mouth. We applaud, and then once more show her how.
The incredible thing about Kings and Chronicles, is that these truths we are to be trained in are taught through the lives of people we'll be studying. David, Solomon, Ahab and Jezebel, a host of Israel's Kings, Elijah and Elisha provide a gold mine of truth taught through examples of failure and success.
Now notice the promise in 2 Timothy verse 17. "That the man of God (the believer) may be entirely furnished for every good work."
Is it possible that the Christian community is weak and unable to advance because we are ill-equipped - and are we ill-equipped because we are stuffing ourselves with the pablum of the popular studies, the latest Christian fad subjects.
The word "furnished" is an interesting word - the Greeks used the word to describe a boat that was outfitted for rough waters; it was also used to describe a wagon that was equipped for a difficult journey.
In other words, to live your life apart from the study of this entire Book; not just your favorite passages, is like taking a wagon ride across country without enough food and water; or setting out to sea in a little sail boat that will overturn at the first gust of wind.
You see, the implication is that your Christianity does not erase rough waters. You are equipped by this book - not for calm seas but for stormy waves; not for quick sprints through friendly territory, but long journeys through enemy territory.
How can we get our wagons in order - how can we prepare to set sail?
The answers are found in the inspired, profitable Old Testament Books of Kings and Chronicles.
So turn back to I Kings and let's spend the remainder of our time this morning mining the treasures of chapter 1.
While you're turning, let me help you get an aerial view of these four Old Testament Books.
I and 2 Chronicles repeat the material of I & II Kings - so we'll study them chronologically - in the same way we studied Matthew Mark and Luke.
These Books cover roughly 400 years:
They begin with the coronation of Solomon
They end with the destruction of Jerusalem
They begin with the temple being built
They end with the temple being destroyed
They begin with a unified, powerful nation
The conclude with a divided, enslaved nation
In fact, at the end of these books, Nebuchadnezzer destroys Jerusalem and takes, among others, young Jewish men back to Babylon as captives. We know the names of some of those captives - Shadrach, Meshach, Abendigo and a teenager named Daniel.
Most expositors believe that the author of I & 2 Kings (originally one volumne) was an aged prophet by the name of Jeremiah - and the author of I & 2 Chronicles (also originally one volume) was a priest named Ezra.
Now, first Kings, 1:1.
Now King David was old (70), and advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm. (sounds like Colonial's auditorium?!) 2. So his servants said to him, "Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm." So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4. And the girl was very beautiful; and she became the king's nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her.
This is certainly an awkward place to start . . . I stared long and hard at these first few verses - and they wouldn't just go away.
Now most of the commentaries I read were written years ago - they made a definite attempt to explain away or reinterpret the frank, base nature of this paragraph. One commentator said, "This was a common form of medicine in ancient days for someone unable to be warmed." Yeah, right.
It might have been common, but it wasn't commendable. I can assure you that if you were 70 years of age and couldn't get warm, and your doctor prescribed this - you'd get a second opinion, right? RIGHT? If you even hesitated, I'm sure your wife would give you another opinion.
You need to remember, especially as we study another Old Testament book, that just because the Bible records events, it doesn't necessarily condone events.
Sure this was the common practice of Kings; and chapter two strongly suggests that David made her a member of his harem. That doesn't change God's stated ideal for a married man or woman - His ideal was one man with one woman for life.
It will be David's violation of God's ideal and thus his 18 wives and many concubines that not only will create this crisis - but establish an example for his son Solomon that will ultimately destroy him. . .for it was the wives of Solomon who turned his heart from following God.
There's something else worth mentioning. While we know nothing about this young woman, we do know that her life will be irrevocably ruined by her inclusion into David's harem. As a beautiful young woman, she has the potential of being chosen by some Israelite young man - perhaps a godly man who serves Jehovah. She has the potential of marriage, raising her own family, living her own life around her friends and relatives. But she has now has no choice - she can not refuse the imperial summons. Now with no personal hope for a future, she becomes one among hundreds of women who were pampered but virtually ignored unless beckoned by the king.
Now, while harems aren't part of our landscape, the principle exists today that if you are in a position of power, influence; if you are a manager or a boss to someone or to many - recognize the impact you have on someone else's life
Don't take advantage of their obedience to you - treat them with respect and dignity . . . The world has enough selfish tyrants who use and abuse people - Christianity turns leaders into servants; it replaces callous disregard with compassion for other people who happen to be a little lower on the ladder than you are.
While we can say a lot of things about these openeing verses, one thing is clear - on the surface its obvious that this great man of military might and prowess is now feeble, weak and suffering. But beneath the obvious is the opening description of a man who is . . .
distracted when he should have been focused
a man who was being entertained when he should have been intervening.
The crown is at stake . . . the kingdom is in a crisis.
Let the revolution begin 1:5. Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, "I will be king." So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him.
By the way, Adonijah should have learned from history. Absalom, his half-brother did the same thing. In fact, Adonijah even uses the same number of chariots and horsemen that Absalom used.
If you're wondering what could drive a young man to dethrone his father and wreak havoc in the kingdom, verse 6 sheds incredible insight; And his father had never crossed him at any time by asking, "Why have you done so?" And he was also a very handsome man; and he was born after Absalom.
I can assure you that everything that occurs in chapter one is either directly or inderectly related to that one heavy verse.
As great a leader as David was - he is for us in this chapter the classic absent father - the father who refuses to exercise authority over the child until the child ultimately exercises authority over the father.
With Absalom and now with Adonijah - David either pampered him or ignored him. He gave him everything but himself. Imagine as it says here in verse 6, "He never crossed him; lit. David never pained him...that is, David never got in Adonijah's way - he never challenged him, he never disciplined him. . .
By the way, the revolutions that are confronting us today find their roots as well in verse 6 - the only things that have changed are clothing styles and weapons.
One author wrote: "Somewhere and in some way, with every major social problem in America, a father has failed to give leadership to his family. . .the deterioration of our culture has accelerated dramatically because father who are willing to lead are now in the minority.
Listen to a United States Senator speak brave, almost prophetic words in 1965: From the wild Irish slums of the 19th century Eastern seaboard to the riot torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history; a community that allows its young men and women to grow up without ever acquiring any stable relationship to male authority. . .that community asks for and gets chaos!
Male leadership begins with Dad. If it fails there and goes unchecked, it spreads to the school and community and eventually to the highest courts in the land - until as one author wrote, "When authority finally breaks down, and the consequences for breaking authority cease to exist, then chaos is reality."
Texas A&M recently calculated the amount of time that a person committing a crime can expect to spend paying for that crime in prison:
-a person committing murder can expect to spend 1 year 8 mo.
-a rapist can expect to spend 60 days in prison
-robbery - average of 23 days
-a person convicted of arson - 6 days, 16 hours
-aggravated assault - just over 6 days
Have you, like ancient David, in your homes and in your world lost the ability to say No!
And so here, Adonijah is going to attempt with cold ruthless hatred, to get rid of his Dad.
The next few verses flesh out who was on whose side - v. 7. And he had conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest; and following Adonijah they helped him.
Now Adonijah hold a coronation for himself and announces his own accension to the throne - at that feast, there were several noticable absences. . .he never sent party invitations to several people 10. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, and Solomon his brother.
Adonijah has waited for what he considered the perfect moment. It's now time to strike - David is weak - he's sequestered away with his newest distraction - he's sickly - besides, Adonijah has convinced powerful Joab, the five star General to back him. He's lured Abiathar away from David - the priest who faithfully and loyally served David during his earlier years on the run from King Saul.
All the cards were in Adonijah's hand - what could David do?
I don't have much time to get into the intrigue of this drama, but Adonijah failed on two counts:
1) Adonijah overlooked the promise of God through David
namely, the kingdom knew Solomon was God's choice to replace David . . . it would be Solomon, God had said that would build the temple.
secondly 2) Adonijah underestimated the nations loyalty to David
There were two people in the kingdom who would risk everything on those two things - that God's will and the nations loyalty had not changed: Two people would instigate the counter-revolution: an old Prophet named Nathan and one of David's wives.
Notice verse 11. Then Nathan spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, "Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it? (tuck that thought into your minds by the way - David was so out of touch that Nathan knew the coup attempt was underway but David didn't) 12. So now come, please let me give you counsel and save your life and the life of your son Solomon. 13. Go at once to King David and say to him, "Have you not, my lord, O king, sworn to your maidservant, saying, "Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne?" Why then has Adonijah become King?" 14. Behold, while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words."
Practically speaking, the counter-plot they hatched is banking on one major hope: something that never happened before: They are hoping that David, for the first time in his life, will say "No" to Adonijah. Frankly, they're not sure he will - even though his oath and God's will was for Solomon to reign next.
The plan is initiated by Bathsheba and Nathan confirms the news.
Now look at David's reaction in verse 28. Then King David answered and said, "Call Bathsheba to me." And she came into the king's presence and stood befoe the king. 29. And the king vowed and said, "As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, surely as I vowed to you by the Lord the God of Israel, saying, "Your son Solomon shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place; I will indeed do so this day." skip to verse 33. And the King siad to them, "Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon. 34. And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there as king over Israel, and blow the trumpet and say, "Long live King Solomon!"
Whew - point number one is fulfilled in this counter-revolution - David will keep his promise.
But now, will God move the hearts of the people to follow a King elect by the name of Solomon who at this point in time is only around 13 years of age?
Notice verse 38. So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites when down and had Solomon ride on King David's mule and brought him to Gihon. 39. Zadok the priest then took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet and all the people said, "Long live King Solomon!" now notice 40. And all the people went up after him, and the people were playng on flutes and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth shook at their noise.
Can you imagine - you know what that means? God hasn't changed and the loyalty of the people hasn't changed.
49. Then all the guests of Adonijah were terrified; and they arose and each went on his way. . .They didn't even stay behind to help clear the dishes. . .forget dessert!
Adonijah is on his own.
We'll pick the story back up here next Lord's day; but let's pull from this ancient inspired book some questions for today.
Questions from ancient Kings ch. 1 to contemporary Christians
1) Are you denying God's word or obeying it?
Perhaps, as you've listened, you identify more with Adonijah than David. God's Word has been clearly delivered and yet you are persistently involved in something or with someone.
It's possible that no one else knows the plot you're developing in your heart; the revolution that you are secretly carrying on against the clear teaching of God's word - my dear friend - you will never win!
If Adonijah had accepted the will of God, with his handsome appearance and natural leadership charisma, he could have been one of the instrumental leaders in Israel's glorious expansion under Solomon's rule.
But he had to have his way . . . he had to be king.
You know something, in our lives, at varying stages and at varying degrees, the question remains almost the same - "Who will be the King. . .who will rule our lives?"
Now after observing David, there are some questions that I need to ask you. . .I've have lived with them all week. . .
2) Are you isolated or accountable?
What struck me about David as I read and re-read this chapter was how Nathan the prophet and Bathsheba David's favorite wife had to as tactfully as possible bring up the issue of Adonijah.
You would think that Nathan could have rushed into David's presence and said, "David - your son is attempting to overthrow you; do something!"
Somewhere in David's powerful old age - he had become hard to reach.
Do the important people in your life have to tiptoe around you - afraid of advising you, interrupting you, challenging you? Can you be told "your wrong"; can you be challenged in areas where you are failing - and everyone around you can see it but you.
3) Are you distracted or focused?
Frankly, this sermon is an introduction to next Lord's day, during which time I am going to visually illustrate this point. . .
But for now - are there things blinding your clear vision of reality - it could be another person - it could be the television - it could be a consuming hobby or habit - take a hard look at your "distractions" to developing godliness . . . are you willing to set them aside for the sake of the kingdom?
One more question:
4) Are you ignoring unpleasant areas or attending to them?
Raising a child is hard work - reaching a wayward child is even harder - it's easier to take an extra job, or come home late than face up to the situation.
A lifeless marriage that some time ago slipped into neutral is painful to address - there are wrongs to be explored, there are scars to unveil. . .
Hidden sin is hard to uncover and humbling to confess . . . will you let them spoil inside you. . .sapping your vitality and spiritual hunger for intimacy with God. . .
There is a crisis at hand. . .even though you may feel weak and feeble ask God, who is our ever present help in time of trouble - to strengthen and infuse you with courage to address the crisis in your kingdom - do it today!
-God is seen in sovereign control (I Kings 1)
-God is the only true and living God (I Kings 17)
-God is the Creator of all there is (2 Kings 19)
-God is the Provider of life (I Kings 19)
-God is omnipresent (I Kings 8)
-God is imnipotent (I Kings 18)
-God is omniscient (I Kings 3 & 4)
-God is the one to whom angels serve (I Kings 13 & 22)
-God is the one to whom the world is accountable (2 Kings 19)
-God is a God of love (I Kings 10)
-God is a God of goodness (2 Kings 20)
-God is a God of justice and righteousness (I Kings 2; 8; 9 & 10)
-God is the author of redemption (I Kings 8)
-God is a God of forgiveness (I Kings 21 & 22; 2 Kings 22)
-God hears and answers prayer (I Kings 13; 17; 18; 2 Kings 2; 6; 13; 19)
-God is faithful to keep His promises (I Kings 11; 16; 2 Kings 7; 10; 15; 24)
-God alone is worthy of worship (I Kings 9; 2 Kings 17)
-God's word should be the center of the believers life (I Kings 6; 8; 9; 11; 2 Kings 8; 17; 18; 22; 23)
. . . so on and so forth.
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