Story of Abishag

(Brant Jordan) #1

I Kings tells the story of King David being quite elderly and unable to warm himself. Consequently, a search is made for a young virgin girl to lay beside him to keep him warm - Abishag the Shunamite. Question, why include such an inconsequential story? What cultural values made the writer see the story as indispensable to the reader?

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(Sally Alexander) #2

@Brant Good question. It is important because of its political consequences to David’s heir. She is mentioned again in I Kings 2:17. If you read the entire story, you will see her significance in the establishment of Solomon’s reign.

(Brant Jordan) #3

I did notice that, as I read further in the story. Just seems interesting to put all of those details in there, when so much of it was extraneous. She was an attendent of the king and Adonijah wanted use her to attempt a coup. Her exact job description in the household seems inconsequential.

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(Sally Alexander) #4

@Brant Yes, she was an attendant, but it seems her story indicates she was also much more. How many attendants are trusted to be with the weakened king while sleeping, when he is most vulnerable? How simple it would be to make an alliance with a son, simply put a pillow over his face and change history. How many attendants (Haman for instance) use their position with the king to gain advantage?

To me, His Word indicates Abishag showed great integrity in humbly providing for the needs of the king, while denying her own. As a young and beautiful woman in a culture where marriage and children often defined a woman’s worth, she would not receive either of these during her service to the king. She ministered to the king and did not use her position for her own benefit.

I do not know why He included her story in His Word. But, we do know that others did notice. According to His Word, she was given more political influence than the wives or concubines. It seems her humble, sacrificial service put her in a powerful place, like that of Joab supporting Adonijah, or Ahithophel supporting Absalom. His Word spends time developing the reasons for the political power of Joab and Ahithophel. In like manner, her story and details around are critical bits of information that describe how she came to be viewed with such respect, be given such power. It is a vital story, to me, of how one, who is not normally viewed as possessing great political power, and who did not seek such power, can, through her character, have the potential of massive impact. Could it be that it is a critical story that shows that even in the midst of politically charged environments, it is not just what we do (Joab) or think (Ahithophel) that is important, but who we are?

Could the end result have been the Song of Solomon? Was Abishag the Shulammite of that song? Both Shulammite and Shunammite have the roots of peace, rest. Could Shulammite have been Solomon’s ‘pet’ name for her?

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