David’s Old Age

King David had grown old, and although he was covered with blankets, he couldn’t get warm. His officials told him, “Your Majesty, let us search for a young woman who has never been married. She can stay with you and be your servant. She can lie in your arms and keep you warm.”

So they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful, young woman. They found Abishag from Shunem and brought her to the king. The woman was very beautiful. She became the king’s servant and took care of him, but the king did not make love to her.

Adonijah Plots to Become King

Adonijah, son of Haggith,[a] was very handsome. His mother gave birth to him after she had Absalom.[b] Adonijah was boasting that he was king. So he got a chariot and horses and 50 men to run ahead of him. His father had never confronted him by asking why he was doing this. But Adonijah had discussed his actions with Joab (son of Zeruiah) and with the priest Abiathar, so they supported him. But the priest Zadok, Benaiah (son of Jehoiada), the prophet Nathan, Shimei, Rei, and David’s ⌞thirty⌟ fighting men did not join Adonijah.

Adonijah sacrificed sheep, cattle, and fattened calves at Zoheleth Rock near En Rogel. He had invited all his brothers, the king’s ⌞other⌟ sons, all the men of Judah, and the king’s officials. 10 But he didn’t invite the prophet Nathan, Benaiah, the fighting men, or his brother Solomon.

The Prophet Nathan Helps Solomon Become King

11 Then Nathan asked Solomon’s mother Bathsheba, “Haven’t you heard that Adonijah, Haggith’s son, has become king, and our master David doesn’t ⌞even⌟ know about it? 12 Bathsheba, let me give you some advice about how to save your life and your son’s life. 13 Go to King David and ask him, ‘Your Majesty, didn’t you swear to me that my son Solomon will be king after you, and that he will sit on your throne? Why is Adonijah acting as king?’ 14 And while you’re still there talking to the king, I’ll come in and confirm what you have said.”

15 Bathsheba went to the king in his private room. The king was very old, and Abishag from Shunem was taking care of him. 16 Bathsheba knelt and bowed down in front of the king. “What do you want?” the king asked.

17 “Sir,” she answered, “You took an oath to the Lord your God. You said that my son Solomon will be king after you, and that he will sit on your throne. 18 But now, you see, Adonijah has become king, and you don’t ⌞even⌟ know anything about it, Your Majesty. 19 He has sacrificed many fattened calves, bulls, and sheep. He has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army ⌞to his feast⌟. But he hasn’t invited your servant Solomon. 20 All Israel is looking to you, Your Majesty, to tell them who should succeed you on your throne. 21 Otherwise, my son Solomon and I will be treated like criminals when you lie down in death with your ancestors.”

22 While she was still talking to the king, the prophet Nathan arrived. 23 The servants told the king, “The prophet Nathan is here.” When he came to the king, he bowed down in front of him. 24 Nathan said, “Your Majesty, you must have said that Adonijah will be king after you and that he will sit on your throne, 25 because today he went and sacrificed many bulls, fattened calves, and sheep. He invited all the king’s sons, the army’s commanders, and the priest Abiathar ⌞to his feast⌟. They are eating and drinking with him and saying, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ 26 But he didn’t invite me or the priest Zadok or Benaiah, who is Jehoiada’s son, or your servant Solomon. 27 Did you allow this to happen without telling me who would sit on your throne next?”

28 Then King David answered, “Call Bathsheba in here.” So she stood in front of him, 29 and he swore an oath. He said, “I solemnly swear, as the Lord who has saved my life from all trouble lives, 30 I will do today exactly what I swore to you by the Lord God of Israel. Your son Solomon will be king after me. He will sit on my throne.”

31 Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face touching the ground in front of the king. “May Your Majesty, King David, live forever!” she said.

32 King David said, “Summon the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, and Benaiah, son of Jehoiada.” So they came to the king, 33 and he said, “Take my officials with you. Put my son Solomon on my mule, and take him to Gihon. 34 Have the priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan anoint him king of Israel there. Then blow the ram’s horn and say, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 35 Follow him ⌞back⌟ here when he comes to sit on my throne. He will be king in place of me. I have appointed him to be the leader of Israel and Judah.”

36 “So be it!” Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, answered the king. “The Lord your God says so too. 37 As the Lord has been with you, so may he be with Solomon. May Solomon be an even greater king than you, King David.”

38 Then the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, Benaiah (son of Jehoiada), the Cherethites, and the Pelethites put Solomon on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 The priest Zadok took the container of olive oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. They blew the ram’s horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 All the people followed him, blew flutes, and celebrated so loudly that their voices shook the ground.

Adonijah’s Plot Fails

41 Adonijah and all his guests heard this as they finished eating. When Joab heard the sound of the horn, he asked, “What’s the reason for the noise in the city?” 42 He was still speaking when Jonathan, son of the priest Abiathar, arrived. “Come in,” Adonijah said. “You’re an honorable man, so you must be bringing good news.”

43 “Not at all,” Jonathan answered Adonijah. “His Majesty King David has made Solomon king. 44 The king has sent the priest Zadok, the prophet Nathan, Benaiah (son of Jehoiada), the Cherethites, and the Pelethites with him. They have put him on the king’s mule. 45 The priest Zadok and the prophet Nathan have anointed him king at Gihon. They have come from there celebrating, so the city is excited. That is the sound you heard. 46 Solomon is now seated on the royal throne. 47 Furthermore, the royal officials have come ⌞to congratulate⌟ His Majesty King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his reign greater than your reign.’ The king himself bowed down on his bed 48 and said, ‘Praise the Lord God of Israel who has let me see the heir to my throne.’ ”

49 Adonijah’s guests were frightened, so they got up and scattered in all directions. 50 Adonijah was afraid of Solomon. He got up, went ⌞to the tent of meeting,⌟ and took hold of the horns of the altar.[c] 51 Someone told Solomon, “Adonijah is afraid of you, King Solomon. He is holding on to the horns of the altar and saying, ‘Make King Solomon swear to me today that he will not have me killed.’ ”

52 Solomon said, “If he will behave like an honorable man, not one hair on his head will fall to the ground. But if he does ⌞anything⌟ wrong, he will die.” 53 King Solomon sent men to take him from the altar. Adonijah bowed down in front of King Solomon. “Go home,” Solomon told him.


  1. 1:5 Adonijah’s mother was Haggith; his father was David. He was David’s oldest living son.
  2. 1:5 “very handsome … Absalom.” These words are the last part of verse 6 (in Hebrew). They have been placed at the beginning of verse 5 to express the complex Hebrew sentence structure more clearly in English.
  3. 1:50 Holding on to the horns of the altar was an appeal for mercy.