Adonijah Sets Himself Up as King (1:1–27)
David Makes Solomon King (1:28–53)
28–31 Nathan’s plan worked. David immediately swore another oath (verse 29) that he would fulfill his first oath to make Solomon king (verse 30). Bathsheba responded with a standard expression of gratitude reserved for royalty: "May the king live forever” (verse 31).
32–37 David then instructed his trusted advisors to anoint Solomon king. Solomon was to ride on David’s own mule; in this way the people would see that David had chosen Solomon to become king over Israel and Judah4 (verse 35).
38–40 David’s instructions were carried out at once. Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent5 and anointed6 Solomon king (verse 39). When the ordinary people of Jerusalem saw Solomon on David’s mule and learned that he had been anointed king, they shouted with joy (verse 40).
41–48 The shouting of the people of Jerusalem was so loud that Adonijah and his supporters heard it; they were just outside the city wall. Adonijah probably thought the people were cheering for him. But Abiathar’s son Jonathan (2 Samuel 15:36) brought Adonijah the bad news: Solomon had been made king. And on his bed David was praising the Lord for fulfilling His promise to establish David’s offspring on the throne—the offspring of God’s own choice (2 Samuel 7:12).
49–53 When they heard the news, all of Adonijah’s supporters rose in alarm and dispersed (verse 49). They didn’t want to be seen siding with Adonijah, now that his cause had been lost. For his part, Adonijah was sure Solomon would put him to death for trying to usurp David’s throne—just as Adonijah would have put Solomon to death if the situation had been reversed! So Adonijah went and took hold of the horns of the altar (verse 50), hoping this would protect him from being executed.7
When Solomon heard that Adonijah had sought protection at the altar, he said that if Adonijah proved to be worthy (verse 52)that is, loyal to Solomon—he would not be put to death. With that assurance, Adonijah agreed to leave the altar and submit to Solomon’s rule (verse 53).