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  • Pastor Paul Davis

A Sin Unto Death

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

“There is a sin unto death …” (I John 5:16)

Crisis doesn’t make a person; it reveals who a person really is. Real leaders, in a crisis, will seek to help others - opportunists seek to help themselves; real leaders help a situation - opportunists make matters worse. Two notorious names of the American Revolution, George Washington and Benedict Arnold, epitomize the best and worst of that era. The crucible of the Revolution unveiled the character of these, and other, individuals. Had it not been for the contest between the colonies and Great Britain, these names may have remained in obscurity. The struggle for liberty didn’t make these men or their character, it disclosed them. Crisis will cause what’s in a man - for better or worse - to come out.

In I Kings 1, crisis is looming in the nation of Israel. Those were the waning days of King David’s reign; history was obviously moving towards a transition of leadership. Adonijah, David’s oldest living son at the time, realized as probably most everybody did that critical days lay ahead. His handling of the situation exposed who he really was. Adonijah, the quintessential opportunist, was not about to let a crisis go to waste.

That Solomon was God’s choice as David’s successor was common knowledge. When God made His covenant with David, He said, “Behold, a son shall be born to thee … his name shall be Solomon … I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever” (I Chronicles 22:9-10). Moreover, David had made this known to the people. I Chronicles 28 says that “David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king … Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people … of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel” (I Chronicles 28:1-2 and 5).

In spite of this knowledge, Adonijah “exalted himself, saying, I will be king …” (I Kings 1:5). When opportunity arose, Adonijah “exalted himself.” From the start he was on the road to ruin for Scripture declares that “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased” (Luke 14:11). Furthermore, Adonijah’s “I will” is reminiscent of Lucifer who boasted “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). A person is most like Satan when they exalt their own will above God’s. A self-willed spirit “descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:15-16). In I Kings 1, “that wicked one” (I John 3:12) is at work, behind the scenes, seeking to subvert the will of God.

Adonijah was a “very goodly man” (I Kings 1:6), which probably means he was very attractive, not only in appearance but in personality as well. This surely helped him secure willing accomplices: “he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him … And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him” (I Kings 1:5 and 7). Satan garnered a following (Revelation 12:4) and so did Adonijah. In securing the support of Joab and Abiathar, Adonijah now had the backing of the military and priesthood. Joab, Abiathar, and presumably Adonijah had previously stood with David during times of difficulty. But now, in David’s weakness, they turned against him. Some common people followed suit. Trials like this force all involved to a point of decision. Some deceive; some are deceived; some stand for truth. To be deceived is bad, and to deceive is worse; but God’s people should be neither. In Adonijah’s case, he misled some - but not all. “But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah” (I Kings 1:8).

Chapter one of I Kings records the rest of the story. Adonijah and his collaborators attempted to ceremoniously coronate Adonijah as king. The plot was revealed to David who responded by hastily arranging the inauguration of Solomon as king. Upon hearing this, “all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way. And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar … And Solomon said, If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die. So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house” (I Kings 1:49-50, 52-53). Adonijah’s cohorts fled in fear while he narrowly escaped execution by the skin of his teeth. A scripturally discerning eye sees God’s abundant mercy towards Adonijah in this matter. But Adonijah, the blind opportunist, will not acknowledge truth even when it stares him in the face. As the Divine record will indicate, self-will is a stubborn thing not easily repented of.

In the second chapter of I Kings, David is laid in the grave and Solomon is firmly seated upon "the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly" (v. 12). Verse 13 narrates, "Adonijah, the son of Haggith, came to Bath-sheba the mother of Solomon." He petitioned her: "Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunamite to wife" (v. 17). Here Adonijah is at it again. His innocence is feigned. In reality he is perpetrating another nefarious plot. Abishag had been nurse to David and if Adonijah had her as wife then he could lay claim to the throne. Thus Adonijah sealed his own fate. Upon discovering the intrigue, "king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died" (v. 25). Adonijah learned by experience that "There is a sin unto death."

Others have learned the same thing by experience. Nadab and Abihu supplanted God’s prescription for incense with theirs and "offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord" (Leviticus 10:1-2). Korah and company "gathered themselves together against Moses" (Numbers 16:3) and "they perished from among the congregation" (v. 33). Balaam was willing to curse Israel for personal gain. When this failed, he "taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel" (Revelation 2:14) and paid for it with his life (Numbers 31:8). "Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David" (I Samuel 19:1). Consequently, "Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that day together" (I Samuel 31:6). Members of the church at Corinth evidenced by their actions that they despised the church of God (I Corinthinas 11:22) and as a result were stricken with sickness and death (v. 30). "The Lord is my shepherd ... thy rod and they staff they comfort me" (Psalms 23:1 and 4). God is a big Shepherd and He carries a big stick. Harming His program is dangerous - the result of which may be untimely death.

"For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."

(I Corinthians 11:30)

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