[Note: This is the prepared text for a sermon given at The Dalles congregation of the United Church of God on Sabbath, December 12, 2020.]
Several months ago now, Mr. Ken Loucks gave us a sermon about the priesthood of Zadok, but he did not happen to cover how it was that Zadok got his priesthood. I am not sure why this was not the area that was focused on, as the path which led Zadok to have his past and future priesthood in Israel is one that is heavily connected with both prophecy and politics. And it is those two elements that we will look at in order to understand how it was that Zadok got his priesthood. We ought never to think to ourselves that the Bible is lacking in practical guidance in how to deal with politics, and the story of Zadok is one that reminds us of the importance of politics in the working out of the plan of God. So let us first look at the prophecies that point to the past and future high priesthood of Zadok and how it was that it became available to Zadok and his heirs to attain, and then let us turn to what the Bible says about Zadok and what lessons his story has for us today.
Let us begin by looking at the importance of prophecy in the story of Zadok. We will begin with a prophecy that ought to be familiar with us, since it was something that Mr. Loucks focused on, which reminds us that the family of Zadok will again be priests in the future temple of God in the millennial world. There are four references in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel that refer to Zadok’s priesthood in the Millennium. Let us turn to one of those, Ezekiel 44:15. Ezekiel 44:15 tells us: ““But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood,” says the Lord God.” Let us note from this that the prophecy that tells us that the family of Zadok will have the priesthood in the millennium because of their loyalty to God and to the temple. Let us reflect upon this, because over and over again the story of Zadok and his family’s rise to the high priesthood is connected with the issue of loyalty.
Who was Zadok, and how was he connected to prophecy and the judgment and will of God? One of the most obvious ways to understand this is to look at the genealogy of Zadok, which is given in 1 Chronicles 6:1-15, which details his line from Levi all the way to the captivity of Judah. 1 Chronicles 6:1-15 reads: “The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. The children of Amram were Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. And the sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Eleazar begot Phinehas, and Phinehas begot Abishua; Abishua begot Bukki, and Bukki begot Uzzi; Uzzi begot Zerahiah, and Zerahiah begot Meraioth; Meraioth begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub; Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Ahimaaz; Ahimaaz begot Azariah, and Azariah begot Johanan; Johanan begot Azariah (it was he who ministered as priest in the temple that Solomon built in Jerusalem); Azariah begot Amariah, and Amariah begot Ahitub; Ahitub begot Zadok, and Zadok begot Shallum; Shallum begot Hilkiah, and Hilkiah begot Azariah; Azariah begot Seraiah, and Seraiah begot Jehozadak. Jehozadak went into captivity when the Lord carried Judah and Jerusalem into captivity by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.”
This particular passage lets us know how it is that Zadok got his high priesthood in the first place, based on the prophecies that were given to his ancestor, one Phinehas, the son of Eleazar. It was the loyalty and zeal of this grandson of Aaron that gave him and his descendants the blessing of the high priesthood. We read of this story in Numbers 25, and it is worthwhile to read the first thirteen verses of this chapter to get a sense of how it was that Phinehas showed loyalty to God and how God judged Israel’s sin of harlotry while also blessing Phinehas and his descendants, including Zadok. Numbers 25:1-13 reads: “Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.” And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ””
From what we have seen so far, it would seem as if the family of Zadok would not have had a hard time attaining the high priesthood over Israel. Zadok’s forefather Phinehas had been zealous and loyal to God, and had been promised a covenant of everlasting priesthood, and Zadok himself served as a high priest for Solomon, and Zadok’s family was promised to serve in the high priesthood in the world to come. What would seem more natural than for Zadok to entered into the high priesthood by inheritance. Yet that is not what happened. And it is here that we are confronted with a historical mystery. When we end the book of Joshua and look at Judges, at the beginning of Israel’s time in the Holy Land, it was Phinehas who served as the high priest, and he served well and loyally. Yet by the time that we come to the beginning of the book of 1 Samuel, it is not the family of Phinehas that was serving in the high priesthood, but rather a descendant of the sons of Ithamar, the family of Eli and his sons.
And if there is one quality that the sons of Eli did not have regarding their service in the high priesthood, it was loyalty. And so it was that for their lack of loyalty to God and to His ways, God promised a harsh judgment on the house of Eli concerning their usurpation of the priesthood and their serving of their own selfish lusts rather than God. 1 Samuel 2:22-36 gives the account of this judgment, and it is well worth reading in full. 1 Samuel 2:22-36 tells us: “Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them. And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men. Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me? And did I not give to the house of your father all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire? Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’ Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. And you will see an enemy in My dwelling place, despite all the good which God does for Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and say, “Please, put me in one of the priestly positions, that I may eat a piece of bread.” ’ ””
And yet while the judgment of God upon Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas was not long in coming, nor did Eli have long to live, Eli’s house continued to serve as high priest for more than a century, during the entire lifetime of Samuel, and the reigns of Saul and David. Despite the fact that Phinehas the son of Eleazar had been promised an eternal priesthood, the priesthood long remained outside of his family. And given that Ahimelech and Abiathar served conspicuously as high priest, it might have seemed as if the family of Eleazar that had been promised to serve as high priest would never get their chance to serve in that position. And then there came a priest of the house of Eleazar named Zadok, who would bring with him the promised blessing of the high priesthood for him and for his descendants. How did it happen?
We first hear of Zadok’s name in what might seem to be an offhand comment in 2 Samuel 8:16-18 that refers to the various people who were involved in David’s administration over Israel. 2 Samuel 8:16-18 reads: “Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were the priests; Seraiah was the scribe; Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief ministers.” We are not given any details of how it was that Zadok came to the attention of David or was recognized as being worthy of sharing the priesthood with Ahimelech, but this passage records that when David was establishing his rule over all Israel in Jerusalem, Zadok quickly had a place among the religious and political authority there. But it is not an undisputed priesthood, rather a co-priesthood shared with the family that had held this high priesthood for seemingly a couple hundred years or so.
When we next hear of Zadok, it is in a position of considerable danger where his loyalty to David was being tested. In 2 Samuel 15 we read of Absalom’s rebellion, where David, shortly before his son is about to take over Jerusalem and overthrow his father, presumably with the intent to put the anointed one of Israel to death. And David’s behavior upon escaping placed a very dangerous task on Zadok and his son, as we see in 2 Samuel 15:22-37: “There was Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up until all the people had finished crossing over from the city. Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.” The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there. So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up. Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God—there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I was your father’s servant previously, so I will now also be your servant,’ then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me. And do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? Therefore it will be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall tell to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Indeed they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything you hear.” So Hushai, David’s friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem.”
Without exaggeration, David asked Zadok and his son Ahimaaz to serve as spies for him, passing information between the king and his loyal counselor Hushai, who was to feign service to Absalom so as to buy time for David to build up his forces to recover his kingdom. It goes without saying that this was very dangerous work. Indeed, the Bible lets us know that Zadok and Abiathar and their sons were putting their lives at risk to serve at the Ark of the Covenant while also serving as couriers and spies on behalf of David. 2 Samuel 17:15-22 lets us know how dangerous this task was. Let us read what 2 Samuel 17:15-22 has to say: “Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, “Thus and so Ahithophel advised Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so I have advised. Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, ‘Do not spend this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily cross over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be swallowed up.’ ” Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed at En Rogel, for they dared not be seen coming into the city; so a female servant would come and tell them, and they would go and tell King David. Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom. But both of them went away quickly and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, who had a well in his court; and they went down into it. Then the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and spread ground grain on it; and the thing was not known. And when Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house, they said, “Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?” So the woman said to them, “They have gone over the water brook.” And when they had searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem. Now it came to pass, after they had departed, that they came up out of the well and went and told King David, and said to David, “Arise and cross over the water quickly. For thus has Ahithophel advised against you.” So David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed over the Jordan. By morning light not one of them was left who had not gone over the Jordan.”
Nor does this exhaust the loyalty that the house of Zadok the priest showed to David and to his kingdom. Zadok’s son Ahimaaz is involved in the strange way in which David was informed of the victory of his troops over Absalom’s forces in 2 Samuel 18. As it is written in 2 Samuel 18:19-32: “Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said, “Let me run now and take the news to the king, how the Lord has avenged him of his enemies.” And Joab said to him, “You shall not take the news this day, for you shall take the news another day. But today you shall take no news, because the king’s son is dead.” Then Joab said to the Cushite, “Go, tell the king what you have seen.” So the Cushite bowed himself to Joab and ran. And Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, “But whatever happens, please let me also run after the Cushite.” So Joab said, “Why will you run, my son, since you have no news ready?” “But whatever happens,” he said, “let me run.” So he said to him, “Run.” Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain, and outran the Cushite. Now David was sitting between the two gates. And the watchman went up to the roof over the gate, to the wall, lifted his eyes and looked, and there was a man, running alone. Then the watchman cried out and told the king. And the king said, “If he is alone, there is news in his mouth.” And he came rapidly and drew near. Then the watchman saw another man running, and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “There is another man, running alone!” And the king said, “He also brings news.” So the watchman said, “I think the running of the first is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “He is a good man, and comes with good news.” So Ahimaaz called out and said to the king, “All is well!” Then he bowed down with his face to the earth before the king, and said, “Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delivered up the men who raised their hand against my lord the king!” The king said, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant and me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was about.” And the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still. Just then the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “There is good news, my lord the king! For the Lord has avenged you this day of all those who rose against you.” And the king said to the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” So the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise against you to do harm, be like that young man!””
Nor did this exhaust the difficult and dangerous duty that Zadok and his family did for David during the rebellion of Absalom, for he was asked to be part of a deputation to the elders of Judah in 2 Samuel 20 to invite David back into his kingdom as a reconciliation after Absalom’s rebellion was crushed. Let us read what 2 Samuel 20:9-14 says: “Now all the people were in a dispute throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “The king saved us from the hand of our enemies, he delivered us from the hand of the Philistines, and now he has fled from the land because of Absalom. 10 But Absalom, whom we anointed over us, has died in battle. Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?” So King David sent to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, saying, “Speak to the elders of Judah, saying, ‘Why are you the last to bring the king back to his house, since the words of all Israel have come to the king, to his very house? You are my brethren, you are my bone and my flesh. Why then are you the last to bring back the king?’ And say to Amasa, ‘Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me, and more also, if you are not commander of the army before me continually in place of Joab.’ ” So he swayed the hearts of all the men of Judah, just as the heart of one man, so that they sent this word to the king: “Return, you and all your servants!””
By the time that David’s reign was nearly over, then, Zadok had demonstrated not only that he was a godly priest, but that he was loyal to David and was willing to risk his life to serve his king. And yet, despite these years of loyalty, demonstrated in the Bible most vividly in the chapters that relate to Absalom’s rebellion, we have seen that through this entire time Zadok and Abiathar are joint high priests both serving God. Neither God’s promise of an everlasting covenant of the high priesthood nor God’s promise to judge the descendants of Eli’s house had yet been fulfilled, and David was an old man nearing death. How long would it be before Zadok would receive the priesthood that had been promised to his father’s house forever?
Now we come to one of the most dramatic chapters in the entire Bible when it come sto demonstrating how the will of God acts in political matters. The context in 1 Kings 1 is that David is old and near death, and has promised to God and to Bathsheba that Solomon would reign after him, and yet David’s oldest surviving son, Adonijah, seeks to proclaim himself king through a political cabal. How will God’s will prevail? Let us look at 1 Kings 1 in its entirety to see the answer to this: “Now King David was old, advanced in years; and they put covers on him, but he could not get warm. Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman, a virgin, be sought for our lord the king, and let her stand before the king, and let her care for him; and let her lie in your bosom, that our lord the king may be warm.” So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her. Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king”; and he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. (And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?” He was also very good-looking. His mother had borne him after Absalom.) Then he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they followed and helped Adonijah. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei, and the mighty men who belonged to David were not with Adonijah. And Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fattened cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En Rogel; he also invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, or Solomon his brother. So Nathan spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, “Have you not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith has become king, and David our lord does not know it? Come, please, let me now give you advice, that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go immediately to King David and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord, O king, swear to your maidservant, saying, “Assuredly your son Solomon shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ Then, while you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.” So Bathsheba went into the chamber to the king. (Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was serving the king.) And Bathsheba bowed and did homage to the king. Then the king said, “What is your wish?” Then she said to him, “My lord, you swore by the Lord your God to your maidservant, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.’ So now, look! Adonijah has become king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know about it. He has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the sons of the king, Abiathar the priest, and Joab the commander of the army; but Solomon your servant he has not invited. And as for you, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. Otherwise it will happen, when my lord the king rests with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon will be counted as offenders.” And just then, while she was still talking with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in. So they told the king, saying, “Here is Nathan the prophet.” And when he came in before the king, he bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. And Nathan said, “My lord, O king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’? For he has gone down today, and has sacrificed oxen and fattened cattle and sheep in abundance, and has invited all the king’s sons, and the commanders of the army, and Abiathar the priest; and look! They are eating and drinking before him; and they say, ‘Long live King Adonijah!’ But he has not invited me—me your servant—nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon. Has this thing been done by my lord the king, and you have not told your servant who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?” Then King David answered and said, “Call Bathsheba to me.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before the king. And the king took an oath and said, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life from every distress, just as I swore to you by the Lord God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.” Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and paid homage to the king, and said, “Let my lord King David live forever!” And King David said, “Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.” So they came before the king. The king also said to them, “Take with you the servants of your lord, and have Solomon my son ride on my own mule, and take him down to Gihon. There let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel; and blow the horn, and say, Long live King Solomon!’ Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne, and he shall be king in my place. For I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah.” Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, “Amen! May the Lord God of my lord the king say so too. As the Lord has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord King David.” So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon. Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound. Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the horn, he said, “Why is the city in such a noisy uproar?” While he was still speaking, there came Jonathan, the son of Abiathar the priest. And Adonijah said to him, “Come in, for you are a prominent man, and bring good news.” Then Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, “No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king. The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the Cherethites, and the Pelethites; and they have made him ride on the king’s mule. So Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon; and they have gone up from there rejoicing, so that the city is in an uproar. This is the noise that you have heard. 46 Also Solomon sits on the throne of the kingdom. And moreover the king’s servants have gone to bless our lord King David, saying, ‘May God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and may He make his throne greater than your throne.’ Then the king bowed himself on the bed. Also the king said thus, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it!’ ” So all the guests who were with Adonijah were afraid, and arose, and each one went his way. Now Adonijah was afraid of Solomon; so he arose, and went and took hold of the horns of the altar. And it was told Solomon, saying, “Indeed Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon; for look, he has taken hold of the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’ ” Then Solomon said, “If he proves himself a worthy man, not one hair of him shall fall to the earth; but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.” So King Solomon sent them to bring him down from the altar. And he came and fell down before King Solomon; and Solomon said to him, “Go to your house.”
One more time in Zadok’s life he had proved his loyalty to David and his house, and in this particular case, Abiathar had conspired against the will of God and against the plan of David to anoint his son Solomon as king. While Solomon was to be God’s anointed after David, Adonijah, like many power hungry people throughout history, sought to make himself a ruler and sought to bolster his support by political machinations. And yet while Zadok had proved his loyalty once again in political matters to David and to David’s house, and also to God, it remained for Solomon to demonstrate his own loyalty to Zadok and his willingness to fulfill the prophecies that had been given to the house of Eli and to the house of Phinehas the son of Eleazer. And we find that fulfillment, at last, in 2 Kings 2:26-35. 2 Kings 2:26-35 tells us: “And to Abiathar the priest the king said, “Go to Anathoth, to your own fields, for you are deserving of death; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David, and because you were afflicted every time my father was afflicted.” So Solomon removed Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, that he might fulfill the word of the Lord which He spoke concerning the house of Eli at Shiloh. Then news came to Joab, for Joab had defected to Adonijah, though he had not defected to Absalom. So Joab fled to the tabernacle of the Lord, and took hold of the horns of the altar. And King Solomon was told, “Joab has fled to the tabernacle of the Lord; there he is, by the altar.” Then Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, saying, “Go, strike him down.” So Benaiah went to the tabernacle of the Lord, and said to him, “Thus says the king, ‘Come out!’ ” And he said, “No, but I will die here.” And Benaiah brought back word to the king, saying, “Thus said Joab, and thus he answered me.” Then the king said to him, “Do as he has said, and strike him down and bury him, that you may take away from me and from the house of my father the innocent blood which Joab shed. So the Lord will return his blood on his head, because he struck down two men more righteous and better than he, and killed them with the sword—Abner the son of Ner, the commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, the commander of the army of Judah—though my father David did not know it. Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab and upon the head of his descendants forever. But upon David and his descendants, upon his house and his throne, there shall be peace forever from the Lord.” So Benaiah the son of Jehoiada went up and struck and killed him; and he was buried in his own house in the wilderness. The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his place over the army, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar.” So it was at long last that Zadok got his priesthood.
What lessons can we learn from the life story of Zadok as we have seen so far today in scripture? On the larger scale, it is important to understand the way that politics and prophecy are often connected in the Bible. Somewhere around 1400BC or so, God promised an everlasting priesthood to the family of Phinehas the son of Eleazer for his loyalty to God and to God’s ways, but it was not until more than 450 years later that this prophecy was fulfilled when Zadok was appointed high priest by Solomon in place of Abiathar. Similarly, it was more than a hundred years before the prophecy given to the unnamed man of God in the days when Samuel was but a child was fulfilled in the days of Solomon when the family of Eli was finally at long last removed from the high priesthood. And this removal had everything to do with politics, specifically with the politics of loyalty that Zadok and his house showed to David and therefore to God, loyalty that God repaid in king to Zadok and to his house, extending all the way to the millennial kingdom when this loyalty will again bring Zadok and his house to the high priesthood to serve God before His people.
The story of Zadok and his family demonstrates many ways that people can show their loyalty. Phinehas the son of Eleazer showed his loyalty to God by spearing someone who was publicly committing idolatry and fornication in front of the people and leadership of Israel. Zadok and his sons showed loyalty to David by being spies on his behalf during the rebellion of Absalom, diplomatic messengers who helped to smooth the path of David’s rule over Israel, as well as showing loyalty to the David’s heir and providing for a successful succession of power from David to Solomon in the face of political opposition from the foolish and reckless Adonijah and his equally foolish supporters. Ultimately matters of politics, like everything else, are in the hands of God. And yet our own place and position on earth and on heaven can depend greatly on the political choices that we make, based on whether we are loyal to God and to His anointed or not. How this applies to us in specific cases is something that we must wrestle with on our own, in the knowledge that God works His will, for judgment and blessing, through earthly politics where people reveal the loyalty or corruption of their heart in the exercise of a little bit of power where the fate of nations hangs in the balance of the choices that are made.