Family is often one of life’s biggest blessings and biggest challenges. It is no different for people in the Bible. Let’s see what we can learn from King David and his family as he advances in years.
The book of 1 Kings begins with David as an old man who even has trouble keeping warm, and his son Adonijah decides that means he can take what he wants from his father and he pursues making himself king, usurping his father’s throne. If you have children who take from you what they want for whatever reason, that is not OK.
1 Kings says that David never rebuked Adonijah, asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” A spoiled kid with an uninvolved father becomes an entitled, privileged young man that thinks the world is there for his taking. In adulthood, David still does not check his son. Even with grown up family members, it is not only OK but called for to ask difficult questions. Being loving and supportive does not mean accepting whatever behavior surfaces. It is in everyone’s best interest — probably yours, others’ and that of the individual in question for someone to call them out.
The text also says that Adonijah was very handsome. We need to compliment and affirm our children, partners, significant others, whatever important relationships we have, but in this Bible passage we receive a caution in a funny statement noting the looks of someone about to commit treason and treachery against his own father: too much focus and praise, especially where it is not earned but makes life easier without any commitment and minimal investment can be dangerous. How and about what are we affirming, encouraging, complimenting those we love? About things that have little value, like looks? A daughter who is a princess, not allowed to leave the house without perfect hair and clothing, not allowed to get dirty? A husband who must tow the line with shaving, haircuts, even fashion? What do these kinds of actions and expectations communicate about the value of this person to us? Let’s encourage and compliment our loved ones for effort, development of character, the Fruit of the Spirit and the practice of God’s love and grace in their lives.
David is “aged” but he is still king. He has insight to know the time has come to anoint a successor. He has an appropriate balance of humility and authority, recognizing his own mortality and not hanging onto power, while making plans for securing the future and speaking with authority. David believes Solomon is ready to be king. Solomon has enough confidence and enough wisdom to begin his reign with a demonstration of mercy and justice. Adonijah had attempted to usurp the throne not only from their father, but also from his brother Solomon who had been promised kingship. Solomon will not be walked on but neither will he be spiteful, vengeful, too eager to shed the blood of his own family. He gives Adonijah a second chance, but not indefinite chances. He gives him his life, but does not keep him close. Is there someone you need to forgive, perhaps without keeping them close?
When you encounter struggles in your family, know you are in good company. May we have the wisdom to learn from others, from our own failures and successes and from sacred scripture.