The first thing that Adonijah did was present himself to Jerusalem as the new King as his father, David, lay on his bed close to death. He wanted to see who was with him and who would be against him. He found out. 1 Kings 1:7-9 says, “He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar, the priest. And they followed Adonijah and helped him. But Zadok the priest and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and Nathan the prophet and Shimei and Rei and David’s mighty men were not with Adonijah.” Lust brings devastation to everyone involved. David’s family problems were wrapped up in one kind of lust or another. His oldest son, Amnon, lusted for his half-sister and raped her. David did not take action to correct that sin. Her brother, Absalom, kills Amnon for his crime, and David does not take adequate action regarding Absalom. Absalom’s lust for power leads him to lead a rebellion against David, which ends up in Absalom’s death. David responds poorly to this conflict. There followed other tragedies in David’s family as well. The final one comes from his oldest remaining son, Adonijah. As David lies dying in his bed, Adonijah’s lust for power leads to one last great tragedy for David. Wiersbe says, “Following the example of his infamous brother Absalom, Adonijah began to promote himself and generate popular support. Like Absalom, he was a handsome man who had been pampered by his father, and the unthinking people joined his crusade. Wisely, Adonijah got the support of both the army and the priesthood by enlisting Joab, the general, and Abiathar, the high priest. Both of these men had served David for years and had stood with him during his most difficult trials, but now they were turning against him. Yet Adonijah knew that the Lord had chosen Solomon to be Israel’s next king, and Abiathar and Joab certainly understood this as well.”[1]

Lust for power destroys families, nations, churches, and countries. In the nation of Israel, we see how the lust for power destroyed David’s household and eventually destroyed the unity of the Nation of Israel after Solomon’s death. The specific details of that struggle are recorded for us in the book of Kings and Chronicles as well as in the prophets. It has its roots in Satan’s fall. Thompson says, “A lust for power is akin to the sin of Satan himself, who lusted after the power and position of the Eternal God. In our highly materialistic society, we are all aware of how not only does power corrupt, but the yearning for power has led to all kinds of sinfulness.”[2] It’s seen in Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve. Dealing with this issue was one of Jesus main concerns with his own disciples. During the last supper, Jesus had to confront them because “a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.” Tidball comments, “Their unreconstructed lust for power and status clouded their perception and prevented them from attending to the needs of their Lord, as they should have done at this moment. Patiently he instructed them once more that in his kingdom, true greatness lies in lowly service.”[3]

The problem today is that the world is not listening to Jesus anymore. God is totally removed, and there is no teaching to restrain the uncontrollable lust for power. When we eliminate God from our cultural milieu, we allow our own depravity to shine through. We raise children like David’s,  who have no respect, no self-discipline, and are completely focused on self-gratification. R. C. Sproul put it this way, “…when a man’s thoughts are devoid of God, his life is characterized by not just a touch of unrighteousness but a fullness of unrighteousness that touches every part of his life. …The greedy person is self-centered, seeking to amass for himself things that he would rob from other people. Such a person has a hostile attitude to his fellow man, for he will stop at nothing for his own private gain. The greedy man’s thoughts are void of God. When we take God out of mind, there is nothing to restrain the human heart and the human spirit in their lust for power and for greed.”

[1] Wiersbe, Warren W. 2002. Be Responsible. “Be” Commentary Series. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor.

[2] Thompson, Leonard. 2005. Demons. Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company.

[3] Tidball, Derek. 2001. The Message of the Cross: Wisdom Unsearchable, Love Indestructible. Edited by Derek Tidball. The Bible Speaks Today: Bible Themes Series. Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.