by Wayne Blank
"Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon"
When King David (see also Israelite Monarchy - The United Kingdom) began to reign over all of Israel (i.e. Israel and Judah), Zadok and Abiathar were brought together as the high priests (an office that was actually symbolic of a single High Priest to come - see the Fact Finder question below).
"So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and equity to all his people. And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the army; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; and Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar were priests; and Seraiah was secretary; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites" (2 Samuel 8:15-18 RSV)
David's greatest political threats thereafter most often came from within his own family. First, David's son Absalom attempted a coup that forced David to flee Jerusalem, the religious and political capital of Israel. Upon seeing the legitimate king leaving the city, Zadok and Abiathar attempted to accompany David with The Ark Of The Covenant, in effect to make David himself the political and religious capital (the Ark was hardly unaccustomed to being moved, since it had for many years before done so in The Tabernacle In The Wilderness). Nevertheless, David instructed them to return the Ark to Jerusalem. David placed the matter in The Lord's hands i.e. "If I find favor in the eyes of The Lord, He will bring me back and let me see both it and His habitation; but if He says, 'I have no pleasure in you,' behold, here I am, let Him do to me what seems good to Him." (notice also that only people authorized by The Lord could even touch the Ark - the reason that no one other than specific Levites could have been responsible for its disappearance to history - see Raiders Of The Lost Ark).
"And all the country wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.
As mentioned in the verses above, although Zadok and Abiathar returned to Jerusalem, they remained loyal operatives of King David.
"But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, 'I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father's servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,' then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel. Are not Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? So whatever you hear from the king's house, tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Behold, their two sons are with them there, Ahimaaz, Zadok's son, and Jonathan, Abiathar's son; and by them you shall send to me everything you hear." (2 Samuel 15:34-36 RSV)
After Absalom's rebellion failed, David returned to Jerusalem. But the lust for power among David's sons did not end with the death of Absalom. Another son, Adonijah (the son of Haggith, one of David's numerous wives) attempted to usurp the throne from the rightful heir, Solomon. This time, some of those who had previously remained loyal to David turned on him. Zadok however remained loyal to the rightful line.
"Now 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. His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, "Why have you done thus and so?" He was also a very handsome man; and he was born next after Absalom. 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." (1 Kings 1:5-8 RSV)
It was Zadok who anointed King Solomon at his coronation.
"King David said, "Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan The Prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada."
Abiathar's disloyalty to David and Solomon cost him his place in the priesthood. Zadok alone thereafter held the position.
"The king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada over the army in place of Joab, and the king put Zadok the priest in the place of Abiathar." (1 Kings 2:35 RSV)