Kingdom Zeal – 1 Kings 1

1 and 2 Kings Preaching Series

Kingdom zeal isn’t something we think about very much. Yet, as Christians, we’re citizens of the kingdom of God. So the books of 1 & 2 Kings should have much to teach us about kingdom rule and life – and about our own great King, Christ.

If you’d like to watch our sermons online they’re organised by series on YouTube.

Setting the scene

It’s worth a moment to understand what’s here:

  • Firstly, this is a single book in two volumes. We might refer to “Kings” as one book, meaning both 1 & 2 Kings.
  • Recap: Moses brought the people up from Egypt.
  • Then Joshua led them into Canaan – but they never really took the whole land they were supposed to (unbelief)
  • Then there was the time of the Judges – there was no overall king, and everyone rejected God and did their own thing. Though, through Ruth, God had plans for a king!
  • Then 1 & 2 Samuel gave us Samuel the prophet, who anointed Saul (the people’s king) then David (God’s).
  • David united the kingdom, extended Israel’s borders to where they should be, and had lots of success.
  • (He also caused himself lots of problems.)

So, what’s in 1 & 2 Kings?

  • It begins with the very old David.
  • We’ll soon look at his son, Solomon – with all his highs and lows!
  • After Solomon, the kingdom split north & south
  • We trace all the kings in both kingdoms – all bad kings in the north, mostly bad kings in the south
  • We’ll see 2 golden calves, Elijah & Elisha, Ahab & Jezebel, Hezekiah & Isaiah, and loads more.
  • We’ll see the northern kingdom exiled by Assyria
  • And we’ll see the southern kingdom not learn from that so that they are exiled to Babylon (where the book ends).

There’s so much to take in, we’ll split it in three series.

Danger in the kingdom (1-10)

Let’s start with 1 Kings 1:1-10. We begin with an image of David so old and cold they had to find a young woman to keep him warm.

Read v1-4. I hope you find that pretty repulsive. To conduct a massive search for a young woman like that is a dreadful example of men objectifying women. We’ll come back to that later. The king has come a long way from downing Goliath, leading armies and defeating enemies. He’s a shell of what he was. The king has become old, cold, and complacent. His kingdom zeal has waned. His son Adonijah has become a threat to the throne, and David did nothing: Read v5-6.

Adonijah is ambitious and handsome. He’s described very much like his brother Absalom was. But that was years earlier, and ended in disaster. What’s more, David messed that up by doing nothing too.

Why is Adonijah a threat to the throne? There are two reasons. Firstly, it’s a question of talents vs character.

  • He’s talented, certainly. He was “very handsome”.
  • He’d have looked great on the campaign trail: “vote me”!

But he’s seeking to be king over God’s people. That matters. When Paul speaks about elders in the church, he speaks much more about character than ability:

2 So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.
3 He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money.”

1 Tim 3

John lamented an ambitious church leader in 3 John:

9 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us.”

3 John

The dangers of the hour were very much the dangers facing the modern church: Complacency, ambition and neglect.

Churches sometimes appoint leaders because they’re skillful, or effective in the workplace. But godly character matters more. That’s a warning to the ambitious – and an encouragement to the humble!

But the second reason Adonijah was a threat was more simple: God had chosen Solomon! In 1 Chronicles 22 David tells Solomon how God explained to him that David wasn’t to build a Temple, but Solomon was to do it – and Solomon’s kingdom would last. So Adonijah’s ambition is actually working against God’s plan. The dangers of the hour were very much the dangers facing the modern church: Complacency, ambition and neglect

  • Complacency in the godly. A failure to act.
  • Ambition of the ungodly – within the kingdom itself. 
  • God’s own plans being neglected and rejected.

Godly people do good (Read v11-27)

Now read 1 Kings 1:11-27. Adonijah has called a big coronation party for himself. He didn’t invite his brother Solomon or Nathan the prophet. That means he’s very likely to have them killed when he can (because to eat with them is a sign of peace). But Nathan hears about the party anyway. So Nathan cooks up a plan and goes to Bathsheba.

Bathsheba was the object of David’s lust in 2 Sam 11. He thought it was all in secret, but the LORD knew and sent the prophet Nathan to rebuke David.

So, here, all much older, Nathan, Bathsheba and David are once again together at a key event in Bible history: The kingdom is at risk! The LORD has said that Solomon is to reign and build a Temple in Jerusalem, but it looks like his brother is about to take the throne away from him! What will happen?

Interestingly, although Nathan is repeatedly described as “Nathan the prophet” he doesn’t come with a word or command from God. Rather, he cooks up a plan:

  • Bathsheba is to go in to David first.
  • Her line is about how David had promised her that Solomon would be king.
  • Then, the plan was for Nathan to go along just next.
  • His line was to enquire about what’s going on? Has the king appointed Adonijah and not mentioned it?

So why no word from the LORD?

Godliness does good.
Faith always produces works.
Love is an action.

Because the situation is clear: The LORD has already made his will known. Godly people must act to bring it about. Action is required. Obedience is called for. Nathan has no need to wait for the LORD’s specific instruction – he knows the LORD’s will, and must act. his kingdom zeal is still very much there. And a lifetime of godliness has given him the wisdom to do the right thing. His plan is to galvanise David into action.

Because godliness does good. Faith always produces works. Love is an action. (And just nodding to that isn’t action!)

  • Nathan loves David; he loves the LORD; he loves the kingdom. And that drives him to action.
  • There’s no handwringing and dithering. It’s time to act, so he does.

We can sometimes dither too much.  Godly Nathan knew what needed to be done, and did it. What did he do? He roused God’s anointed into action for the kingdom!

The Messiah’s kingdom zeal

Now we turn to 1 Kings 1:28-37. In v15-21 Bathsheba speaks to David. His ‘welcome’ to her is curt: “What to you?” (2 words!)

Then in v22-27, Nathan speaks to David. That’s 2 witnesses, each with a slightly different angle, and now here David is transformed into action!

Our great King is never old or cold or complacent.

Read v28-31. David goes on to summon his key staff. He issues clear instructions for what’s to happen next. Solomon is made king – and Adonijah’s party comes to an end. The cold, old, complacent king has been galvanised into action! What could move him like that? The cause of God’s kingdom.

In Revelation it’s clear that our great King is never old or cold or complacent: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. And he is full of kingdom zeal.

  • Jesus is always watching, always active, always stirred – and not in some distant, far-off way.
  • His churches matter to him; kingdom growth matters; the honour of his name in his churches, his people matter.
  • So he encourages, rebukes, nurtures, and prunes his local churches. He prepares ground for witness, and he comforts and protects in persecution and trouble.

So put these things together:

  • Godly people do good (like Nathan stirred to action).
  • Jesus is always stirred with passion for his kingdom.
  • Doesn’t it make sense that you are also stirred with the same passions and concerns? Have you lost a bit of your kingdom zeal?