TODAY’S READING: 1 KINGS 1-2
“The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not.” – 1 Kings 1:4
Abishag the Shunammite is the young woman in this scripture. Her beauty marked her as someone very special, someone to be esteemed. Abishag even personally served and attended King David. Yet, David did not know her.
This brings to mind Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:23, “And the I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
What is the connection between these two passages of scripture?
DAVID TO SOLOMON
I believe that David and Solomon are pictures of Jesus’ first and second coming, respectively. David is a picture of Jesus as the king who comes to wage war against Satan, Satan’s works – lies and murder, and Satan’s power – death. Solomon is a picture of Jesus as the king who reigns in peace, the king who has put all enemies under his feet and made them his footstool.
So far, there has been almost 2,000 years between Jesus’ first coming as David and his second coming as Solomon. Therefore, I find it interesting that 1 Kings 1:1 says, “Now King David was old and advanced in years.” In the Spirit, I believe this statement pictures this long time period between the two comings of Jesus.
COVERED WITH CLOTHES, BUT NOT WARM
“And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.” – 1 Kings 1:1
Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus destroyed Satan through his death on the cross. Jesus’ death occurred in the ninth hour, or three in the afternoon. This is the hottest part of the day. The Hebrew word for warm in 1 Kings 1:1 is often used to describe the heat of the day.
It was during the heat of the day, as he hung on the cross, that Jesus’ love for us burned the hottest. In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” So, John says in 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.”
And, 1 John 4:9-10 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to the be the propitiation for our sins.”
It has been a long time since Jesus’ loved for us burned hot from the cross. And, now Jesus cannot get warm, cannot feel the heat of love returned.
We covered him with clothes.
What does this mean?
The Hebrew word for covered also means concealed. And, the Hebrew word for clothes comes from the root word that means to deal treacherously with or to depart treacherously from.
Jesus cannot get warm, cannot feel the heat of our love, because we have covered him, concealed him, by clinging to the course of this world, the works of Satan – lies and murder, thereby departing treacherously from Jesus’ way.
A WOMAN TO KEEP WARM
“Therefore his servants said to him, ‘Let a young woman be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king and be in his service. Let her lie in your arms, that my lord the king may be warm.'” 1 Kings 1:2
The servants realized that their clothing the king was not keeping him warm. So, they sought a woman to lie in his arms. Ecclesiastes 4:11 says, “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?”
But, the word arms can also be translated bosom. So, these servants sought a woman to lie in the heart of David. Therefore, we can understand this as search to find a woman, a bride, for Jesus that would lie in his heart, that would share his love.
So, the servants sough a young woman that would keep the king warm as she waited on him and was in his service. The Hebrew word for wait has the idea of standing before or being appointed. This calls to mind Ephesians 2:10, which says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The Hebrew word for service here means nurse, administrator, or steward. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” All of us have at least one gift from the Holy Spirit for the benefit of others. So, 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
But, this word for service comes from a root word meaning to be of use, to have the habit of, to be acquainted with, to be reconciled with, to run into danger. The young woman being sought after was not just to perform acts of service. So, too with us. Our service should have the habit, the manner, of Jesus. These acts should cause people to be acquainted with and reconciled to Jesus. Our service should even require us to run into danger. Jesus said in MAtthew 16:25, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
ABISHAG THE SHUNAMMITE
“So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.” – 1 Kings 1:3
So, the servants found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king.
Abishag means father of error.
Shunem means two resting places.
Abishag the Shunammite is a picture of those who are in error by trying to serve two masters. These are people that try to take rest, comfort, and peace both in Jesus and in the world. These are people that try to find rest through Jesus but also through their works, their own efforts, their service to the Lord.
James 1:8 says a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. And, in Matthew 6:24, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
SERVING AND ATTENDING BUT NOT KNOWN
“The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not.” 1 Kings 1:4
Abishag was very beautiful. She had an outward appearance that everyone would have desired. Abishag was of service to the king. She was his nurse, his administrator, his steward. Abishag attended the king too.
The Hebrew word for attended implies a personal service to God. Most uses of the word related to serving God in ritual service. Ritual is something done according to religious law or in accordance with social custom or normal protocol. A ritual is an established form of ceremony, an order of words or acts prescribed for a religious ceremony, a ceremonial act or action, and act or series of acts regularly repeated in a precise manner.
Abishag is a picture of those performing outward acts of service, but they are routines, patterns, habits, prescribed steps. But, all of this service is missing a key ingredient.
Therefore, even though Abishag was beautiful and serving and attending the king, David did not know her. The Hebrew word for know here implies a personal, experiential knowledge not a factual knowledge.
The same is true with us. Therefore, in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Here are people intensely calling Jesus Lord, doing service patterned after the things Jesus did – speaking forth about God, casting out demons, and other mighty works. But, they are just ritual acts, service performed to a prescribed.
Jesus didn’t know them. The Greek word for know here implies a personal, experiential knowledge just like the Hebrew word. Jesus says he see the acts, see what’s being done, but he doesn’t know the people. Jesus is left cold, without warmth.
Why? What’s missing?
Notice that Jesus said these people that he did not know were “workers of lawlessness.”
Jesus the entire law could be summed up in two commands: love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself, even as Jesus loved you. Therefore, to be a worker of lawlessness is to be a worker without love. There’s a pattern, a habit, a ritual of service that appears like Jesus. It’s beautiful on the outside. But, it lacks love on the outside. To Jesus, that kind of service is worthless. Jesus tells those kinds of servants that he doesn’t know them. Those servants should depart from him because they are without love.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” For, in John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Any service, any act, without love is nothing. It’s worthless. This is exactly what Jesus said.
We must always keep in mind that institutions – religious or governmental – do not love. Indeed, they cannot love. You could give all the money in the world to feed the poor through governments, but there will be no love with it. It’s work nothing. You could deliver up your body to be burned in a war, fighting for a government, but there is no love in it. It is worth nothing. It doesn’t matter what is done. It matters how it is done. It must be with love.
Therefore, 1 John 4:7-12 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
SOLOMON TAKES THE THRONE AND ABISHAG IS GONE
Adonijah, David’s son, desired to have Abishag as his wife after his father David died.
Adonijah means lord of the lord.
Adonijah was the son of Haggith. Haggith means exultation.
1 Kings 1:5 says Adonijah “exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king.'”
Here is a picture of one who wants to be lord of the Lord, exalting himself as king. And, it is this one that desires to be joined with Abishag the Shunammite – the error of two resting places, a double mind to serve the Lord and money.
When Solomon, the peaceful king, finds out about Adonijah’s desire for Abishag, he has Adonijah executed. So, we see all of our desire to be king, to have a foot in Jesus and the world, to do works of service without love, our works of lawlessness, will be done away with at the second coming of Christ.