Aug 9 2020 1 Kings - pt. 1 - Grace and Mercy and Compassion for those who Fail
23rd August 2020
I’m beginning a series on the book of Kings – and this is really part 2 – of what we might call part 2 of the history of the Israelites. This is a different kind of history. The primary concern – it is telling the story – the history of God and his relationship with His people. The goal of the instruction is not for you to get a high score in the SAT – but the goal is to teach God’s people how to live and please Him.
Samuel and Kings were most likely written during the exile – they have been conquered and feel defeated. They’ve lost. These books say - Here is why you are in the situation you are in. There is an emphasis on the failure of the leadership and the nation. Keep that in mind as we go through this. That is the point of the book.
Kings starts with the end of David’s life.
1 Kings 1 When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, "Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm."
This is a strange story and we are not going to go into it – but the point is the king is about to die and there needs to be a succession. Most of them were significant failures. Some were good – and just a couple were great. At first glance – a surface reading, we would kind of think – as go the kings – so go the nation – but a deeper dive reveals something much different. We would expect to see immediate judgment for some of the things they are doing – yet what is emphasized much more – is God’s patience and mercy – with the people of Israel and that is the focus of these books.
One Biblical scholar says - The grace of God is found everywhere in Kings –
As we look at it deeper and deeper – the grace of God will overwhelm the failure of the kings. And that is how it is in our lives.
The grace and mercy of God overwhelm our failure. That is the hope of this book. There is a lot of failure, but there is a lot of hope because of God’s grace.
This begins with a coup:
5 Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, "I will be king." So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him.
1 Kings 1: 6 (His father had never rebuked him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?" He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.) 7 Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support.
When it says he is very handsome – it is a hyperlink to Saul – and to David’s older brother Eliam – and as you see it – you think – uh, oh! This is a problem! When it says someone is very handsome – that raises a flag
He is getting his campaign together - but here is the campaign for the other side:
8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David's special guard did not join Adonijah.
Here are the two campaigns – the two parties, if you will!
The other thing Adonijah does – he gets most of his brothers to join him. Here is a list of these brothers - This is earlier:
2 Sam 3:1 Now there was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David; and David grew steadily stronger, but the house of Saul grew weaker continually. 2 Sons were born to David at Hebron: his firstborn was Amnon, by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 and his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur; 4 and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith;
So what we have going on – Adonijah represents Hebron – call it Red state or blue state – I don’t care which you choose…
And Solomon represents Jerusalem. And that is important. What looks like political tactics – Get your support – prove you are the right one for the job.
There is something much bigger going on with significant consequences than a political campaign, and this happens throughout Samuel and Kings – this theme that runs through both books – There is one God – one People of God – and one Place to Worship God.
And this competition is setting that up – and this is a battle over what God should be worshiped, who His people are - and where the place of worship is.
God had Israel set up a tent to worship Him. When they first came into the land, they had a temporary place called Shiloh. But when we get to David – we know that God has a plan for the permanent place for God to be worshiped, Jerusalem – was meant to be.
Who is God? Who are the People of God? Where is He to be worshiped?
There are some really practical things from this:
Adonijah represents the old ways. From his point and his followers – you could call it the Good Old Days – Hebron – and Solomon represents the new ways – Jerusalem. History and churches are rife with this! It is just human nature – and we all have a Good Old Days – every culture has it – every church has it! And all of us as individuals have Good Old Days.
For me – it was the first 5-6 years where my faith was grounded and developed. You can have that for a nation.
There is a problem with the Good Old Days – and there are many things we should keep – but not all of it – NEVER all of it! There has never been a Good Old Days where it was all good. There were always some things that needed to go!
Back in the 70s – there was a great enthusiasm for the study of the End Times – Books written – Hal Lyndsay – movies made – a Thief in the Night – and there was a serious looking forward to this hope of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Maybe that has been lost and should be maintained – those were the good things.
There were some not so good things that should have been set aside. One would be the failure to consider the reality of the future – and realizing that He may not return in 1984!
A second one – Most of the book of Revelation was sensationalized – which created some theological misreadings. There are many things we could talk about – stuff to hang onto and stuff to let go.
For some people – Our Good Old Days were the Worst Days for them!
Our sister church in Garfield Heights is ordaining Michael Peters as a pastor. For those of you who know – Michael is black, and we talk about this phrase – and as we look at our culture and use the phrase “Take Back America” – When I hear that, he said – take it back to when? There is no place to take it back to that was better for my people than this.
When we go back to our Good Old Days in our spiritual lives – you find things like legalism and fundamentalism that have a tremendous negative impact upon the word of God.
The third thing – and then to move forward – for Adonijah – the Good Old Days were when he and his kind were in power and the way they wanted things done.
We need to remember that.
Let me say – there is much good that must be held onto from the past – but there is much to be added. God is always doing something new.
We went through Experiencing God a long time ago - the focus was on God doing something new – and how churches used to use buses to bring vast amounts of children to their church. I don’t think that would work today! Maybe we need an Uber ministry! I don’t know how that would work!
1 Kings 1: 11 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, "Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? 12 Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go in to King David and say to him, 'My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: "Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne"? Why then has Adonijah become king?'
The other side comes up with their plan. There are two campaigns to get their person on the throne
1 Kings 1:28 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."
So, it all works out for the Jerusalem camp.
It may be easy to look at this to say he had a better campaign – a better strategy – but to be honest – this is all about God fulfilling His promises. God is not mentioned at all in these chapters – but behind it all, God is doing what He has promised despite human effort and failures. God will be faithful even if we are faithless. That is who God is.
2 Samuel 7: 12 "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.
16 "Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."'"
There is a promise that David will never lack a descendant on the throne.
But this promise speaks of a singular descendant – and every descendant of David (except one) had tremendous failures. There is only one who is able to save us. When we look at the Old Testament and see these great failings of the people of God – and look at the New Testament and see the same thing – there is this weird mix – people are really good and really bad all in the same person. You see it with David – he is so highly praised, but as you look at his life, you ask, how could that be? We are flawed people – with strengths and weaknesses.
This should first keep us humble. We are people who do much for the Lord and for others. We have given ourselves to ministry – YET – at the very same time – there can be significant selfishness within our lives. We can manipulate other people – we can fail – in many ways – as they have.
Second - This should give us compassion when someone else fails – We should know we are capable of similar failures. We think we would never do THAT – but you could probably do THIS. But because they did THAT – THAT is much worse.
Third – this should give us hope – because if God could forgive them, He can do the same for us. That is what we will look at as we go through this book.
Thank You, Lord – that You are a God of Grace and mercy. We love You because of that. Not because it is in us to be special, but because we are in You. It is not our own righteousness, but Yours – and Your sacrifice on the cross. You are the ultimate one who came. Thank You for your death and resurrection that we could be forgiven.