Love or Ambition
1Kings 2:17 He said, “Please ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”
1Kings 2:18 Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak to the king on your behalf.”
While King David was sick and dying a beautiful Shunammite by the name of Abishag kept him company and cared for him. She was his concubine, although he never had sexual relations with her. Now, David had passed away and Abishag, while still a virgin, belonged to the new King, Solomon. However, Adonijah, Solomon's half-brother had wanted to be king. He was Absalom's younger brother. He had been just as conniving as his older brother and had worked hard to get the support of the community so that he could be their king. This was not David's plan -- nor God's plan and ultimately Solomon was anointed and crowned king. Now, Adonijah had to live with that defeat -- but somehow he just could not be content to move on with his life.
Under the pretense of love, Adonijah decides to ask Bathsheba, Solomon's mother to intercede for him, and ask Solomon whether Abishag can be his wife. Somehow she must not have understood the political nuances and Adonijah must have woven an incredible story of romantic love. I believe he led her to believe that he was deeply in love with Abishag and now that he had lost the kingdom, wouldn't it be great if the king could just give him this one thing -- the love of his life! But, we doubt that she was the love of his life.
His older brother Absalom, during his power grab, had purposefully slept with David's concubines. This was a tactic in which power was taken from the one in leadership. By asking for David's concubine, Adonijah was signaling that he had not given up. He was not content to live his life under the leadership of Solomon and so he was going to make one more effort to appear as the leader by sleeping with David's concubine, just as Absalom had done. The symbolism was not lost on Solomon! He immediately saw through the ruse and ultimately Adonijah lost his life as a result.
This story fascinated me because this "love" for the Shunammite seemed to come out of no where. At first glance I didn't catch the nuances nor the motivation of Adonijah and I had to do a little further research -- but something just didn't feel right. What we see here is ambition couched in the pretense of love, but ultimately the story reveals the true motivations of the man's heart. And this begs the question as to whether there are times that we try to hide our own ambitions within something that would seem to be more acceptable?
David had understood the necessity of a pure heart -- and pure motivations. As a man who deeply loved God he knew that this type of deception would not be acceptable in the eyes of God. He had penned:
Psa. 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
Psa. 139:24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Yesterday we had talked about the need to be sanctified through and through. David understood that every motivation and every desire had to be brought into alignment with the will of God. Even our thoughts need to be brought before God, along with the desires of our hearts. If there is anything wicked -- if there is any wrong ambition or motivation -- may it be removed.
My desire is that my life be genuinely motivated by love -- love of God and love of neighbor. May there never be a pretense of love out of a motive of ambition. If that be the case, let us be sure that those who are wiser will find out us. Pure love should be the motivating force of our lives. Human ambition is nothing in light of the incredible peace which comes from knowing and loving God. Adonijah couldn't be content with what he had. He had to keep reaching for more. His ambition got the best of him and his false motives ultimately led to his destruction.
Lord, search my heart and thoughts today. Please lead me in your everlasting way of love. Amen.