If you are one of those folks who thinks the Old Testament isn’t relevant to our day, today’s passage in 1 Kings is your cure! Political maneuvering is at the heart of our passage. Oh, we don’t have any problems with politicians these days. Har har.
In our story today, King David is old and advanced in years, and the struggle for a successor has begun.
With many of David’s sons out of the picture, the death of Amnon and Absalom, and the apparent death of Chileab, David’s fourth son is the logical choice by many. Adonijah enters the picture. The problem is that succession to the throne by the principle of primogeniture was not yet a standard practice in Israel, and Adonijah’s actions reflect the same treasonous activity of his older brother Absalom. What to do?
Nathan has a plan to have Solomon take over.
Political maneuvering. Intrigue. Privilege. Seeking the blessing of previous generations. Political grandstanding. It turns out, not much has changed. (I have one word for you all: RUSSIA). Turn on the news and it is filled with political grandstanding. Other than a few officials helping with the hurricane response, our news is filled with self-interest every minute.
The problem is that power and money are alluring.
It is funny how so many hold the Bible up as an exemplar of human behavior. Those people obviously haven’t read the Bible.
It is anything but an archetype of perfect behavior. On the contrary, the Old and New Testaments are often good examples of what not to do. From Cain’s jealousy of Abel to Noah in his drunkenness to Peter’s disagreements with Paul, the Bible is chock full of difficulties and the complexities of human relationships.
It is all the more reason to say that the Bible must be understood as a whole. It is not a legal brief meant to be dissected line by line, but a trajectory of grace. It is a Great Play in two acts, with God as the primary actor in both acts.
God is leading this band of rabble-rousers, who in the Old Testament are the Jews, and in the New Testament are the Church.
Today, not much has changed – we are still just sinful creatures trying our best to follow God’s word, and often falling short. But we hold to God as best we can, using some of the good examples and bad examples in the Bible to guide us.
Most importantly, we know that despite our imperfections, God is at the helm, and in his hands ultimately this will all work out to his good grace.