Functions of invocations of YHWH in 1 Kings 1-2
In 1 Kings 1-2 King David’s impending death divides the monarchy over which of his two sons, Adonijah or Solomon, should be the future king. At this pivotal moment one might expect YHWH to reveal who should take over after David, as YHWH had done before (1 Sam 9:1-10:1; 16:1-13); however, YHWH is silent and the human characters take the lead. Nevertheless, YHWH has not disappeared completely from 1 Kings 1-2 because, as the narrative unfolds, YHWH is invoked twenty-four times. Although this language has drawn some attention, with scholars arguing that it either adds theological validation to the characters’ actions or re"ects a theological perspective that assumes that YHWH acts behind the scenes, there is more that might be said regarding its function in the narratives. In this study, I adopt narrative criticism to undertake a close reading of 1 Kings 1-2 that pays particular attention to how characters and the narrator use invocations of YHWH and the events in the plot that prompt or result from this language. I argue that invocations of YHWH have a number of functions in 1 Kings 1-2, with the function of characters’ invocations being particularly dependent on the identities of the characters, their relationships, and the narrative contexts in which they participate.