Adonijah. The guy with a name you have to sound out. We may not have his story in our mind’s eye, but I think some of the story’s details may help us.
Basically, he tried to take advantage of David’s impending death by setting himself up to be king. We read in 1 Kings 1:5 that he said, “I will be king.” As David’s son he exalted himself to this place rather than receiving it from his father. To make a long story short, David was not down with this. He wanted Solomon to be king and anointed him to be his successor.
This made things a bit awkward for half-brothers Solomon and Adonijah. In fact, we read that when Adonijah’s personal king party was disrupted, the guests trembled and left. Adonijah, left to himself, “feared Solomon.” (1 Kings 1.49)
What does he do?
So he arose and went and took hold of the horns of the altar. (1 Kings 1.50)
He is scared. He knows that his ploy to grab the crown when nobody was watching has gone horribly wrong. And now he is afraid that Solomon might make this type of power play a public example in his first days as king. Therefore, he runs to the temple for mercy. He grabs hold of the horns of the altar.
This is where Adonijah becomes very practical and helpful for us.
1. He sees his sin. He is painfully aware of what he has done and concerned over the consequences. (I am in no way showcasing him as a model for repentance, but it is helpful to see that he saw the consequences for his personal inauguration as king.)
2. He sees his weakness. He is no match for the king. He cannot resist him or overpower him. He cannot control what might happen next. He is weak and therefore vulnerable.
3. He runs for mercy. This is his only hope. He must run to the temple and hope that Solomon acts with mercy upon him.
This is where we can relate a bit. Every one of us has felt weakness and apprehension. Some of it is directly the result of our sin. Other times it is because of the sins of others. Still others, it is because of physical issues. There is a bevy of potential triggers for this weakness. We know them well.
How do you respond to it?
Adonijah appears somewhat pathetic, clinging to the altar instead of being a man and coming outside for his well-deserved beating.
What do you do when weakness and apprehension show themselves through circumstances?
I know what I often do. I like to retreat into problem-solving mode. Too often I worry. Other times I pity myself. Still other times I criticize others. Most often I forget.
What do I forget?
1. I forget the sovereignty of God. Since God is in fact sovereign over all things, then even this very circumstance does not escape his notice. In fact, it is divinely ordained and brought to me by God. This truth is a leg-sweep to my own pity.
2. I forget the goodness of God. My grumbling and discord is an indictment on my own definition of good. If God is good then even what he sends into my life that happens to pinch me is good. I know that sometimes it is for discipline (Hebrews 12) and other times it is simply a trial (James 1), but at any rate it is for my good and will abound in sanctification.
3. I forget the gospel of God. In the midst of my grumbling I have groanings too deep for words. If I could put words to my attitude here it would in effect question God’s committment and love to me. This is what I’m saying when I grumble at him through self-pity, worry, and criticism. But listen to how the trumpet blast of the gospel drowns this out:
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
Did you catch that? God has proven his love, care, and committment to his people in and through the gospel. If you need validation or proof that God loves you there is a blood-stained monument atop of Calvary’s hill that declares it!
Adonijah ran inside the temple for safety. However, as Christians, we are now temples of God. The Holy Spirit of God indwells believers. Therefore, think through the paradigm-shaping reality of love, care, mercy, safety, and grace given to all of the saints.
There is no need to run and hide when God has come near to us in Christ. We have been laid hold of by the one who has truly become the mercy seat. We are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.