|King David in Prayer|
The books contain accounts of the kings of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. They contain the annals of the Jewish commonwealth from the accession of Solomon until the subjugation of the kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (apparently a period of about four hundred and fifty-three years). The Books of Kings synchronize with 1 Chronicles 28 – 2 Chronicles 36:21. While in the Chronicles greater prominence is given to the priestly or Levitical office, in the Kings greater prominence is given to the royal and prophetic offices. Kings appears to have been written considerably earlier than Chronicles and as such is generally considered a more reliable historical source.
During his old age, King David spends his nights with Abishag, a woman appointed for the purpose of keeping him warm. Adonijah, a son of David, gathers attendants and persuades Joab and Abiathar to support his claim to be David's heir. Opposed to this are Zadok, Benaiah, Nathan, and Shimei, as well as the army generals, who favour Solomon, another son of David. Adonijah invites his supporters, neutral court officials, and his other brothers excepting Solomon, to the Zoheleth stone. Nathan persuades Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, to trick David into announcing that Solomon is his heir. After having done this, David has Solomon anointed as the next king. When Adonijah is told, he and his guests flee, and Adonijah seeks sanctuary at the Jerusalem altar. Begging not to be harmed by Solomon, Adonijah is only told that he will not be harmed if he is guiltless. Dying, David instructs Solomon to take revenge on Joab, a supporter of Adonijah, and Shimei, and to be kind to the sons of Barzillai. Adonijah approaches Bathsheba asking for a conciliatory gesture from Solomon, namely he asks for Abishag, but when Bathsheba asks Solomon about this, Solomon has Benaiah slaughter Adonijah. Abiathar, who had supported Adonijah, is then deposed from being head priest of the Jerusalem altar and exiled to his homeland, and he is replaced by Zadok. Joab, another of Adonijah's supporters, seeks sanctuary at the Jerusalem altar, but Solomon has Benaiah slaughter Joab at the altar. As for Shimei, Solomon orders him to remain in Jerusalem, but when Shimei later retrieves his servants who had fled to Gath, Solomon has Benaiah slaughter Shimei for leaving.