Who was Adonijah in the Bible?


Adonijah is a significant figure in the Old Testament, specifically within the story of King David and his sons. As the Bible provides us with a fascinating look at the lives of various characters and their complex relationships, Adonijah stands out as an example of ambition, rivalry, and the consequences of one’s actions. In this blog post, we will explore who Adonijah was, his role in the Bible, and the lessons we can learn from his life.

To understand Adonijah, we need to delve into the books of 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles in the NKJV Bible. By examining these texts, we can piece together a portrait of a man who, despite his royal lineage and impressive accomplishments, ultimately meets a tragic end. In the following sections, we will discuss his background, his attempt to seize the throne, the intervention of the prophet Nathan and Bathsheba, his later actions, and his eventual fate.

Who was Adonijah in the Bible?

Adonijah’s Background

Adonijah was the fourth son of King David and Haggith (2 Samuel 3:4, 1 Chronicles 3:2). He was born in Hebron during David’s reign there and was considered to be a very handsome man, similar to his older brother, Absalom (1 Kings 1:6). Although his father, King David, had many sons, it was apparent that Adonijah held a certain level of prominence among them.

Despite being the fourth son, Adonijah likely believed he was next in line for the throne after the deaths of his older brothers, Amnon and Absalom. However, David never explicitly designated Adonijah as his successor. This uncertainty fueled Adonijah’s ambitions and set the stage for the conflicts to come.

Adonijah’s Attempt to Seize the Throne

As King David grew old and weak, Adonijah saw an opportunity to seize the throne for himself (1 Kings 1:5). He gathered a group of supporters, including Joab, the commander of David’s army, and Abiathar, a prominent priest. With these influential figures by his side, Adonijah held a lavish feast to proclaim himself king.

Adonijah’s actions were bold and presumptuous, considering that David was still alive and had not officially passed the kingship to him. By doing so, he directly challenged not only his father’s authority but also God’s plan for the nation of Israel.

The Intervention of Nathan and Bathsheba

Fortunately, Adonijah’s plans did not go unnoticed. Nathan the prophet, a close advisor to King David, was aware of the situation and quickly took action (1 Kings 1:11-14). He enlisted the help of Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, and together, they devised a plan to inform the aging king of Adonijah’s actions.

Nathan and Bathsheba approached King David and reminded him of his promise to make Solomon his successor (1 Kings 1:17, 30). Their intervention prompted David to take immediate action, and he declared Solomon as his heir and had him anointed king of Israel (1 Kings 1:32-40).

Adonijah’s Later Actions

In the face of Solomon’s anointment, Adonijah’s supporters quickly abandoned him, and he was forced to seek refuge at the altar, a place of sanctuary in ancient Israel (1 Kings 1:50). Solomon, now officially king, showed mercy to Adonijah and spared his life, provided that he would not cause any further trouble (1 Kings 1:52-53).

However, Adonijah’s ambitions were not entirely quelled. Shortly after Solomon’s coronation, he approached Bathsheba with a request: to marry Abishag, King David’s former nurse and concubine (1 Kings 2:13-18). This seemingly innocuous request had significant implications, as marrying a former king’s concubine could be seen as a claim to the throne.

Solomon’s Response and Adonijah’s Fate

Bathsheba, unaware of the ulterior motives behind Adonijah’s request, brought it before her son, King Solomon (1 Kings 2:19-21). Solomon, however, immediately recognized the threat that Adonijah posed and responded decisively.

Solomon declared that Adonijah’s actions warranted the death penalty, and he ordered Benaiah, the commander of his army, to execute him (1 Kings 2:22-25). With Adonijah’s death, Solomon ensured the stability of his reign and removed a potential rival for the throne.

Lessons from Adonijah’s Life

Adonijah’s story offers valuable lessons for Christians today. His ambition and presumptuousness led him to overstep his boundaries and directly challenge God’s plans. By attempting to seize the throne without divine approval, Adonijah’s actions ultimately brought about his downfall.

Furthermore, Adonijah’s story highlights the importance of submitting to God’s will and trusting in His guidance. When we attempt to forge our path or achieve our ambitions without seeking God’s direction, we risk making costly mistakes and facing dire consequences.


In conclusion, Adonijah’s life serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers of ambition and the importance of submitting to God’s will. His attempts to seize the throne and defy his father’s wishes ultimately led to his tragic end. By examining Adonijah’s actions and understanding the consequences he faced, we can learn valuable lessons about humility, submission, and the wisdom of seeking God’s guidance in our lives.

As we continue to study the Bible and explore the lives of its many characters, let us remember to seek God’s wisdom and direction in all aspects of our lives. May Adonijah’s story serve as a reminder of the importance of trusting in God’s plan and the consequences that can arise when we choose our ambitions over His will.

The Bible is full of remarkable stories, but the story of Adonijah is particularly noteworthy. Adonijah is the fourth son of King David in the Hebrew Bible. He is an ambitious young man who desires to take his father’s throne once David passes away.

Adonijah is a complex character, as his ambition clashes with his respect for his father. His father, David, had promised that his brother Solomon would be king, and yet Adonijah still tries to end his brother’s reign. To make his wishes come true, Adonijah declares himself King and amasses a large following. He also pursues a few of his father’s concubines in order to solidify his position.

In response, Solomon’s supporters quickly rally together and David chooses his own son as king. Adonijah accepts the decision but requests that he be granted the hand of Abishag, a young woman from Shunem. Though Solomon agrees to this request, Adonijah pushes for more and is eventually killed by Joab, the commander of the army.

Despite these missteps, Adonijah is remembered fondly in the Bible. He is portrayed as a brave man who was inspired by a great ambition. Furthermore, he is commended for his bravery in the face of certain death, and is seen as someone who very much loved his father.

The story of Adonijah is a tale of ambition, respect, and complex familial relationships. It is an interesting look at a man’s attempt to gain a throne and the consequences that resulted from it.

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