Grasping for power divides people, especially leaders.
It reveals character – both bad and good character.
This was the essential message of my morning meditation today, from 1 Kings 1:5-10.
Adonijah was 35 years old when he made himself king.
Why? Because, the text says, he was…
a) “very handsome”,
b) and next in line (King David’s fourth son, 2 Sam 3:4, after Absalom).
What did he do? Promoted himself by…
a) public displays of power (getting chariots and horses, and sending 50 men to run ahead of him),
b) manipulative lobbying with leaders,
c) threw a coronation party, inviting those whom he knew would support him.
BUT some respected leaders did not support him. The two ‘buts’ in v.8 & 10 show that Zadok the chief priest and Nathan the prophet, among other leaders, did not support Adonijah. They sought to confront and undo his wrongdoing.
Adonijah’s ego-driven attitude and actions divided the people, especially the leaders in Israel. This exposed bad character (those who supported him) and good character (those who did not). That’s what happens whenever anyone, especially leaders (spiritual, civil, business, and political), grasp for power. And God allows it to reveal character, exposing people for who they are.
The Hebrew name Adonijah means “my Lord (Master) is Yahweh (God)”. In 35 years of formation, Adonijah had not learnt to submit his will to God, to make Yahweh his real Lord and Master. Adonijah’s father, King David, “never interfered with him by asking, ‘why do you behave the way you do?’” (v.6, sadly, a lack of fathering). By grasping for power he rejected his God-given identity and purpose embodied in his name. His self-serving behaviour showed that he ‘self-identified’ as “my Lord is Me”.
Have you been tempted to power, to make yourself a leader, to be king?
IN GOD’S KINGDOM, power and leadership is always given, never ever taken. One is only and always invited and appointed by others, those above you, by God. There is NO self-promotion, let alone self-appointment, in God’s Kingdom.
Adonijah followed Lucifer, who grasped for ultimate position and power: God’s throne, to be God. All who grasp for power and all who support such leaders reveal the character of Lucifer, whether they know it or not. Such leaders and people do the will of Satan on earth as it is in hell.
The ultimate reversal – undoing of this corrupt and evil way – is through Jesus. Though equal with God, he did not consider equality with God something to grasped or held on to. Rather, he stripped himself of position and power and made himself nothing. Taking on the nature of a slave, he selflessly served, obeying God all his life: “not my will but yours be done”. To the point of death. Even death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted him, giving him all authority and power in heaven and earth. He is the true Adonijah, “my Lord is (really) God”. All true followers of Jesus do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.