Today’s reading begins with David’s final instructions to Solomon before his death and concludes with Solomon being established as the sole monarch of Israel.
When the time of David’s rule over Israel was coming to an end there was a struggle for the throne of the kingdom of Israel. David’s son Adonijah had claimed the kingdom for himself, but the LORD had instructed that Solomon would be the heir to the throne after David. The decision that Adonijah made to claim the kingdom for himself quickly turned sour and Adonijah soon realized that he would be ousted.
This is where the text takes a twisted turn. In return for relinquishing the throne of Israel, Adonijah requested of David’s wife and Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba that she ask Solomon to grant him in marriage Abishag the Shunnamite. Abishag was David’s nurse in the waning years of his life. She tended to his needs and slept in his bed with him. It’s made explicit in the text that David never had sexual relations with Abishag, but regardless, one can imagine that this platonic relationship was an intimate one.
Bathsheba complied with Adonijah’s request and came before Solomon and asked that Abishag be given in marriage to Adonijah. This greatly angered Solomon and certainly with Adonijah’s presumption of the throne combined with this act of gross disrespect prompted Solomon to put a permanent end to Adonijah’s treachery against the throne. Solomon called upon Benaiah the commander of the armies of Israel and had Adonijah put to death.
The battle for the throne was a brief one and Solomon was now free to rule.