Adonijah Presumes Himself the Next King (1 Kings 1:1-27) December 14
Undoubtedly, all of David's existing wives were too old themselves to provide the type of 'round-the-clock nursing care that Abishag was able to provide as David lay suffering from lack of body heat. "Using a healthy person's body warmth to care for a sick person is a medical procedure noted by the second-century Greek physician Galen and the Jewish historian Josephus" (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 1-3). Abishag was a Shunammite, making her from the town of Shunemprobably the same town, in the territory of Issachar (Joshua 19:18), at which the Philistines gathered before they attacked and killed Saul (1 Samuel 28:4). That would also be the town of the family the prophet Elisha later stayed with frequently during his ministry (2 Kings 4:8).
Seizing on this time of old-age weakness, David's son Adonijah tries to put himself forward as the next king. Adonijah was David's fourth son (see 2 Samuel 3:2-5), but his first, Amnon, and third, Absalom, were already dead. (Most commentators believe that David's second son, Chileab, died young as he is not mentioned since birth and is evidently not a factor when Absalom sets himself up as heir-apparent.)
Yet it is clear that the oldest son was not to be king in this case anyway. God through David had already chosen David's younger son Solomon as successor to the throne (1 Kings 1:13, 17, 30; 2:15; 1 Chronicles 22:9-10). And Adonijah was apparently aware of this since he deliberately avoided inviting to his sacrifice those who would support the king's designate (1 Kings 1:8, 10). Thus, Adonijah is exalting himself against God's will. But even now, late in his life, David has a hard time exercising proper discipline when it comes to his children (verse 6). As with his older half-brother Absalom (compare 2 Samuel 14:25), who was now long dead, Adonijah was very good-looking, and he used some of Absalom's tactics to gain the kingdom (15:1). It should be noted that a casual reading of verse 6 of 1 Kings 1 might lead one to believe that the two men had the same mother, but Absalom's mother was Maacah, and Adonijah's mother was Haggith (verse 5; 2 Samuel 3:3-4).
It is probably no coincidence that Abiathar sided with Adonijah, as a way for God to work out His plan to bring to an end the priestly succession of the family of Eli (compare 1 Samuel 2:27-36). Joab, too, may have been influenced in some way by God to make this choiceto set him up for the punishment his life's record demanded.