So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.
1 Kings 2:19
In verses 10-12, David dies and Solomon is left as the king without his father to give him counsel. In that moment, I am reasonably sure that Solomon felt overwhelmed. He had gone from being one of the king’s sons to being the king. That is quite a change.
And it is in these early days of Solomon’s reign that Adonijah has a chat with Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and asks her to take a request to her son. In this is a picture of intercession; of going to one who can supply on behalf of another who does not have the necessary standing to make the request. Adonijah asks for Abishag as a wife and Bathsheba, apparently unaware of the political ramifications of such a marriage, agrees to ask Solomon to make that happen.
And she does. Bathsheba goes to see her son and asks him to give Abishag to Adonijah as wife. Solomon sees the ramifications of such a union instantly. If he lets Adonijah marry a woman who was that close to David, the people would at best be confused about who was really the king and at worst would think that Solomon was ceding the throne to Adonijah. Solomon understands that this is not a request that Bathsheba would have come up with, but that she was put up to this request by Adonijah. Solomon sees in this a continued pursuit of the throne, despite God’s choice, and decides to put an end to it. Adonijah is executed.
I find encouragement for my prayers in this passage. It may seem odd to look at a mother asking her son for something that would spell political suicide and the resultant execution of the reigning king’s half -brother and see encouragement to pray, but it is there.
Adonijah asks Bathsheba to go to Solomon on his behalf. So far, the picture of intercession is clear. This is exactly how it works. Someone who lacks standing or relationship asks one who has both to make request on their behalf. Add to this picture the relative simplicity of the one being asked to intercede. If I have an effective prayer life, a friend or colleague may ask me to pray to God on their behalf that some circumstance be changed. Like Bathsheba, I do not see all the ramifications of the request. I cannot look forward and backward down the corridors of time to see that this was the inevitable consequence of some previous action or that this is the more merciful of the possible circumstances that could be transpiring at that moment. My vision is limited. My scope of understanding small compared to my King.
Bathsheba goes and makes the request. Knowing what little she knows of the situation, she takes things to her son, the king. And the king receives her. He comes to greet her and has a place of honor set up for her to sit and talk with him. Likewise my King is only too glad to meet with me when I come to Him in prayer. He meets me and takes time to sit with me and hear what I have to say.
Solomon hears Bathsheba and denies her petition and explains why. The text is pretty clear that Solomon understood where Adonijah’s request could lead. What is more important is that Solomon explains to Bathsheba why the request is denied. The text does not give any indication that she got up in a huff and stormed out of the king’s presence. Nor does the text indicate that she was any less welcome the next time she visited her son in the throne room. So, too, if I will but take the time to make my requests known to God and sit a while, He may very well explain why some requests are denied while others are cheerfully granted. He may decide that I need to understand the implications of the thing I am asking — implications of which I may be wholly unaware.
All of this encourages me to pray; to take any and all petitions to God with the understanding that He will refuse any request that does not further His kingdom and is willing to help me understand why the thing I ask does not contribute to that furtherance. God does not want me to be some thrall, held to Him because I have no choice in the matter. He wants me to grow from child to trusted steward to intimate friend. And one of the ways He does that is to give me understanding; to teach me so that I can pray in the right way and for the right things.
Thank You, Father, for this passage that encourages my prayer. I need the encouragement, as I do not pray in the way that I should or as often as I should. Please stir in my heart a desire to sit with You and pour out my heart and listen as Your pour out Yours. Let me grow from child to steward to friend and to increase my boldness in prayer proportionate to the relationship.