The Pulpit Commentaries
1 Kings 1
THE REVOLT OF ADONIJAH AND THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON.—The first chapter of this book is occupied with the accession of Solomon and with the circumstances which preceded, marked, and followed that event. The author, or compiler, evidently considered that his work properly began with the reign of Israel's third king, and David's illness and death are only introduced into the narrative because they necessitated a hasty and premature coronation of Solomon, and exercised an important influence on the beginning of his reign (1 Kings 2:1-46). In the natural order of events, Solomon would not have succeeded until his father's death, but Adonijah's attempt to possess himself of the kingdom required the immediate elevation of Solomon to the throne, and this attempt having been suggested by David's extreme feebleness, the author is compelled to begin his history with an account of David's decay and death. In the opening verses, consequently, he introduces us into the chamber of sickness. His materials for this part of the history were no doubt derived from the "Book of Nathan the prophet" (1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 9:29). The date of these events is B.C. 1015.
1 Kings 1:1
Now [Hebrews and, but "now" more nearly expresses the import of the original, for ו has here little or no connecting force. It is commonly found at the beginning of a book (as in Exodus, Leviticus, Joshua, Judges, 2 Samuel, Ruth, etc.), and that where there is no connection whatever with any earlier writing (as in Esther, Ezekiel, Jonah, etc.) It can hardly imply, therefore, "that the historian regards his work as a continuation of a preceding history" (Rawlinson), nor is there any need to suppose that it has been taken from a writing containing the earlier history of David." Keil] King [Hebrews the king. The frequent use of this title, "King David," "King Solomon," "King Asa," etc; is characteristic of our author. The expression is not unknown in 2 Samuel, but it occurs so rarely as to constitute a distinction (not a link, as Wordsworth) between that book and the Kings.] David was old [yet 2 Samuel 5:4, 2 Samuel 5:5, shows that he cannot have been more than seventy. (He was thirty at his accession; his reign at Hebron lasted seven years and a half; at Jerusalem thirty-three years.) Rawlinson says, "the Jews at this time were not long lived." Certainly, the Jewish kings were not. Only David, Solomon, and Manasses exceeded threescore] and stricken [Hebrews gone, i.e; advanced] in years. [A common expression, only found with זָקֵן as in Genesis 18:11; Genesis 24:1; Joshua 13:1, etc.] And they covered him with clothes [lit. coverings. בֶּגֶד is used of any covering, whether of the person (Genesis 39:12; 1 Kings 22:10), or the bed (1 Samuel 19:13), or even a table (Numbers 4:6). Indeed, the outer garment was used, at least by the poor, for a covering at night (Exodus 22:27). The context (verse 47) shows that bedclothes are intended here] but he gat no heat. [A common experience of the aged. David's early hardships and later sorrows and anxieties appear to have aged him prematurely. Possibly he was also afflicted with disease.]
1 Kings 1:2
Wherefore [Heb. and] his servants [according to Josephus (Antiq. 7.14, 3), his physicians] said unto him, Let there be sought [lit. as marg; "let them seek"] for my lord the king [the singular pronoun is used as representing the servant who was spokesman for the rest] a young virgin [marg; "a damsel, a virgin." She must be young, to impart heat, and a virgin, as befitted a king. Though she was recommended as a nurse, they would naturally suppose she might be taken as a concubine] and let her stand before the king [i.e; as servant (Verse 4). Cf. 1 Kings 12:6, 1 Kings 12:8; Genesis 41:46; Daniel 1:5; Deuteronomy 1:38 (with Joshua 1:1) 1 Kings 10:8. In the East, servants still stand and wait their masters' pleasure. Cf. 2 Kings 5:25], and let her cherish him [So also the LXX; καὶ ἔσται αὐτὸν θάλπουσα. But Gesenius, al, "be a companion to him"] and let her lie in thy [or "his," LXX. αυτοῦ, Vulg. sue] bosom [the expression is generally, but not invariably (see 1 Kings 3:20; Ruth 4:16) used de complexu venereo] that my lord the king may get heat. [This close embrace of youth was an obvious way of imparting animal heat to age ("Color a corpore juvenili ac sane maxime prodest senibus." Grotius), and was the more favoured because other and internal remedies were not then known. It is recognized by Galen, and is said to have been prescribed by a Jewish physician to the Emperor Frederick Bar-baressa (Bähr). It is stated by Roberts that it is still largely followed in the East.]
1 Kings 1:3
So [Heb. and] they sought (cf. Esther 2:2), for a fair [this word points to the same conclusion as "virgin" in per. 2] damsel throughout all the coasts [i.e; borders (costa = rib, side). An old writer speaks of the "coasts and quarters of heaven"] of Israel, and found Abishag [= "Father of error." Names compounded with Ab, "father," were and are very common in the East. We have, e.g; Ab-salom in Per. 6, and Abi-athar in Per. 7] a [Heb. the] Shunammite [Shunem, a town of Issachar (Joshua 19:18), now called Solam, "a flourishing village encompassed by gardens" (Porter), and "in the midst of the finest cornfields in the,world" (Grove), lies on the lower slope of "Little Hermon," and has before it the wide plain of Esdraelon. Another Shunammite appears in the sacred history (2 Kings 4:8)] and brought her to the king.
1 Kings 1:4
And the damsel was very fair [lit. ,fair to exceeding] and cherished [see on 1 Kings 1:2] the king, and ministered to him; but the king knew her not. [This is mentioned to explain the history of 1 Kings 2:13-25. Had it been otherwise, Adonijah could never have presumed to seek her in marriage, and Bathsheba would never have promised her help in his suit. Such an incestuous alliance would not only have been contrary to the law (Le 1 Kings 18:8), but abhorrent to all true Israelites (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1). In this fact, which the court knew, and which the nation at large did not know—they could only suppose that such a "search" for one so exceeding "fair" meant the increase of the seraglio—Adonijah found his point d'appui for a second attempt on the throne. The older expositors and some of the modern, notably Wordsworth, assume that Abishag was David's wife, in the sense of being legally married to him. (Corn. A Lap. discusses the question at considerable length, and with needless pruriency.) But this idea finds no support in Scripture, which represents her as simply an attendant. It is idle to remark, consequently, that "the Jewish law allowed polygamy" (Rawlinson).
1 Kings 1:5
Then Adonijah [="Jehovah is my Lord." The fourth son of David, and now apparently the eldest surviving. It seems probable that Chileab, or Daniel (1 Chronicles 3:1), David's second son, died in infancy. For Amnon's death, see 2 Samuel 13:29; for Absalom's, 2 Samuel 18:14. He must now have been between thirty-three and forty years of age (having been born in Hebron)] the son of Haggith [= "Festive" (Gesen.) "the dancer" (Stanley)] exalted himself, saying [to him self and his confederates], I will be king. [It is not difficult to trace this resolve to its sources. They were
1 Kings 1:6
And his father had not displeased [or pained, afflicted. The LXX. has ἀπεκώλυσεν] him at any time [Hebrews from his days, i.e; all his days, LXX. οὐδέποτε, Vulg. a diebus ejus. Sein Lebtage (Bähr). Some (Seb. Schmiat, e.g.) would understand since the days of his ambition and display"] in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also [i.e; he also, as well as Absalom, mentioned presently; or, possibly, he as well as Abishag just mentioned. Bähr's rendering, "Und dazu war er sehr schon," etc. "And moreover he" was, etc. will not stand] was a very goodly man [cf. 2 Samuel 14:25. This accounted in part not only for his ambition, but also for his following]; and his mother [the two last words are not in the original, which simply has "and she bare," יָלְדָה . There is no need, Thenius, to read, יָלַד genuit, or with others, הוֹלִיד . We have a similar ellipsis in Numbers 26:59. The meaning is quite clear, viz; that Haggith bare Adonijah to David next after Maachah bore him Absalom. This fact is mentioned to show that he was the eldest surviving son; and it shows therefore that seniority counted for something (cf. 1 Kings if. 25)] bare him after Absalom.
1 Kings 1:7
And he conferred [Hebrews "his words were" (2 Samuel 3:17, Hebrews)] with Joab [Joab's share in this conspiracy, despite his hitherto unwavering fidelity to David, is easily accounted for. He must have known that he was under David's displeasure, and he must have feared, too, that he would be an object of dislike and distrust to a successor trained, as Solomon had been, under David's and Nathan's immediate influence. He could hardly be unconscious that under a new reign his position—unless he took measures to assure it—would be a precarious one. He resolved, therefore, to secure himself by helping Adonijah to his throne. It is also highly probable that Adonijah's ambitious character was much more to his liking than that of the pious and pacific Solomon. Adonijah's physical qualities, again, would no doubt commend him to this rough soldier, who may also have sympathised with him as the eldest son. And there may have been other circumstances (such, e.g; as close personal friendship), of which we know nothing] the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar [in 2 Samuel 8:17, we read that "Ahimelech son of Abiathar" was priest. Similarly, 1 Chronicles 24:6. An obvious transposition] the priest. ["Abiathar's defection is still more surprising" than Joab's (Rawlinson). It is certainly remarkable, when we consider the close ties which subsisted between Abiathar and David, ties which were cemented by the blood of eighty-five persons (1 Samuel 22:18), and strengthened by the many afflictions which they had shared in common (ibid. 1 Chronicles 24:23 to 1 Kings 28.; 2 Samuel 15:24-29), that he should have joined in a plot to defeat David's cherished hopes and plans—plans, too, which he must surely have known, had the sanction of religion (1 Chronicles 28:5), and there must have been some powerful motive to account for this. May we not find one in jealousy of Zadok, who had for some time been associated with him in the priesthood, who is generally mentioned first (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:29, 2 Samuel 15:35, 2 Samuel 15:36; 2 Samuel 20:25). as if he were the more important and influential, and whose advancement, after the prophecy of 1 Samuel 2:33-36, Abiathar could not contemplate without suspicion and dread. Is it not highly probable that among the "words" Adonijah had with him was a promise to restore the priesthood to his family exclusively, as the reward of his allegiance]: and they following Adonijah helped him.
1 Kings 1:8
But Zadok the priest [2 Samuel 8:17. It is generally said to be difficult to explain "how Zadok and Abiathar came both to be "priests at this time." Rawlinson, who adds that "the best explanation is that Abiathar was the real high priest," officiating in Zion, while Zadok acted as chief priest at the tabernacle at Gibeon. (Bähr, by a strange oversight, assigns to Zadok the care of the ark on Mount Zion, whereas 1 Chronicles 16:39, distinctly connects his ministry with the tabernacle of witness at Gibeon.) But the precedence (see on 2 Samuel 8:7) generally assigned to Zadok is hardly consistent with the idea that Abiathar was "the real high priest." The fact is that a duality of high priests, associated, apparently, on pretty equal terms, was not unknown in Jewish history. The cases of Eleazer and Ithamar, Hophni and Phinehas, Annas and Caiaphas, will occur to all. 2 Kings 25:18, speaks of "the chief priest" and "the second priest;" 2 Chronicles 31:10, of the "chief priest of the house of Zadok." And a dual priesthood would be the more necessary in David's days, because of the two sanctuaries, Zion and Gibeon. We find, however, from 1 Chronicles 15:11, that Zadok was already priest at the time of the bringing up of the ark. And the true explanation, no doubt, is that Zadok had succeeded some member of his family, in all probability Jehoiada, called in 1 Chronicles 12:27, "the leader of Aaron" (Hebrews), who had certainly been high priest in the time of Saul (1 Chronicles 27:5), and who would hardly be degraded when, with 3700 followers, he joined David at Hebron. On his decease, or cession of orifice, Zadok, who had joined at the same time with a large contingent,was associated with Abiathar in the priest's office. This dual arrangement, consequently, was the result of David's having taken over a high priest from Saul, together with the kingdom, when he had Abiathar as priest already,] and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, [i.e; Jehoiada the high priest (1 Chronicles 27:5). Benaiah was consequently a Levite, and of the family of Aaron; set, however, by David, because of his prowess (2 Samuel 23:20, 2 Samuel 23:21; 1 Chronicles 11:22) over the bodyguard (2 Samuel 8:18; 1 Chronicles 18:17). Probably he was a near relative of Zadok.], and Nathan the prophet [a Jewish tradition makes Nathan the eighth son of Jesse. He comes before us 2 Samuel 7:2, 2 Samuel 7:3, 2 Samuel 7:17; 2 Samuel 12:1-12, 2 Samuel 12:25] and Shimei [by Ewald identified with Shammah (1 Samuel 16:9), or Shimeah, David's brother (2 Samuel 13:3; 2 Samuel 21:21). Others suppose him to be the Shimei of 1 Kings 4:18. But see note on 1 Kings 2:8. Josephus calls Shimei (not Rei, as Bähr states) ὁ δαυίδου φίλος], and Rei [this name occurs here only. Ewald would identify him with Raddai (1 Chronicles 2:14), another brother of David, but on very slender grounds], and the mighty men [or heroes. Gesen. "chiefs." Not the 600 men who formed David's band in his wanderings (1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 27:2) (Rawlinson), but the 30 (or 37) to whom this name of Gibborim is expressly given, 2 Samuel 23:8; 1 Chronicles 11:15, 1 Chronicles 11:25; 1 Chronicles 29:24. Comp. 2 Kings 10:25, Hebrews] which belonged to David [same expression as in 2 Samuel 23:8] were not with Adonijah.
1 Kings 1:9
And Adonijah slew [or sacrificed, LXX. ἐθυσίασεν. It was a sacrificial feast, like Absalom's, 2 Samuel 15:12 (where see Speaker's note). Religious festivity, i.e; was the apparent object of their assembling: religion was invoked, not merely to cloke their designs, but to cement them together] sheep and oxen and fat cattle by [Hebrews with; same expression, 2 Samuel 20:8] the stone of Zoheleth, [i.e.,"the serpent" (Gesen.) "No satisfactory explanation has been given of this name" (Rawlinson). See Smith's "Dict. Bible" sub voc; where the various interpretations are given. The stone, which served as "a natural altar for the sacrificial feast," the spring, which afforded "water for the necessary ablutions," and the situation with respect to the adjoining city recommended this place as a rendezvous] which is by En-Rogel [Joshua 15:7; Joshua 18:16; 2 Samuel 17:17. Perhaps "the spring of the spy." The Chald; Arab; and Syr. render "the spring, of the fuller"—the Orientals wash clothes, etc; by treading (rogel) them. Josephus says it was without the city, in the royal garden ( ἐν βασιλικῷ παραδείσῳ). The authorities are divided between the "Fountain of the virgin" (Ain um ed-Deraj), and the "Well of Job" (Bir Eyub.) See the arguments in Bonar's "Land of Promise," App. 5; Thomson's "Land and Book," vol. 2 p. 528; and Mr. Grove's Art. in Smith's "Dict. Bib." Porter ("Handbook of Palestine ") identifies En-Rogel with Bir Eyub without remark. There is much to be said on either side. The pool of Siloam ("Bib. Museum") has nothing in its favour] and called all his brethren the king's sons [including, it would seem, even the elder sons of David and Bathsheba, who would bring up the number to fifteen (1 Chronicles 3:5). They too, if living, would naturally resent the preference of the youngest brother], and all the men of Judah, the king's servants ["all the Judeans who were serving at court, as being members of his own tribe" (Keil). The fierce jealousy between Ephraim and Judah would almost compel the king to surround himself with soldiers and attendants of the latter tribe. Some of the invited guests, no doubt, like Absalom's two hundred, "went in their simplicity and knew not anything" (2 Samuel 15:11).
1 Kings 1:10
But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not. [It is clear from this verse that Adonijah perfectly understood that he had in Solomon a rival. The intentions and promises (1 Kings 1:13) of his father can hardly have been unknown to him. The name "Jedidiah, too, bestowed upon Solomon by Nathan (2 Samuel 12:25), taken in connexion with the prophecy of Nathan (ibid. 1 Kings 7:12; cf. 1 Chronicles 22:9, 1 Chronicles 22:10), must have proved to him that Solomon was marked out for David's successor. He seems to have been well aware also who were Solomon's supporters. To some of them he may have made indirect overtures.
The historian having recorded Adonijah's preparations for a coup d'etat, now relates the manner in which the plot was frustrated. The prophet, who had been the guardian and preceptor of Solomon's youth, and who knew the Divine will respecting the succession (1 Chronicles 22:9, 1 Chronicles 22:10), takes prompt and energetic measures to defeat the conspiracy.
1 Kings 1:11
Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon [the person after Solomon most directly concerned and also best fitted to approach the king] saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah tile son of Haggith [possibly there is a touch of worldly wisdom here, as Rawlinson suggests, "Haggith, thy rival." We may be sure David's harem was not without its fierce jealousies. But (see 1 Kings 1:5, and 1 Kings 2:13) the patronymic is so common in Hebrews that we cannot safely found an argument upon it. See on Hebrews 2:5] doth reign [Hebrews did reign. LXX. ἐβασίλευσαεν, aor. = "succeeded." "Schon so gut wie Konig geworden ist." Bähr and Keil] and David our Lord knoweth it not.
1 Kings 1:12
Now therefore come, let me give [Hebrews counsel] thee counsel, that thou mayest save [Hebrews and save, i.e; by acting upon it] thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. The custom of Eastern kings—to secure their thrones by a massacre of their rivals—has received many illustrations, notably among the Ottomans, and is receiving one in Burmah at the present moment. We have Scripture instances in 9:5; 1 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 10:7, 2 Kings 10:14; 2 Kings 11:1 (cf. 1 Samuel 24:21). To put a royal mother to death, along with her offspring, though perhaps unusual, was not unknown. Rawlinson cites the instances of Cleopatra, widow of Philip of Macedon, who was murdered with her infant son Caranus by Olympias; and Roxana, widow of Alexander the Great, who, with her son, was put to death by Cassander. Nathan does not say this will be, but may be, Bathsheba's fate.
1 Kings 1:13
Go and get thee in [Hebrews come] unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king swear unto thine handmaid [this oath of David's to Bathsheba (see verses 17, 30) is not elsewhere recorded, but it was evidently well known to Nathan, and probably, therefore, to others also] saying, Assuredly [Hebrews that, כִי, recitantis] Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he [emphatic] shall sit upon my throne? why therefore doth Adonijah reign?
1 Kings 1:14
Behold, while thou yet talkest there [the original is more graphic, "thou art yet talking… and I"] with the king, I also win come after thee and confirm [marg; "fill up," of. πληρώσω, LXX. Still an idiom of the East. Roberts (quoted in the "Biblical Museum") cites many illustrations. The meaning is, not to add to, amplify, but to corroborate. See 1 Kings 2:27; 1 Kings 8:15, 1 Kings 8:24) thy words.
1 Kings 1:15
And Bathsheba went In unto the king into the chamber [lit. inner chamber, θάλαμος, cubiculum penetrale, Buxtorf. Same word 2 Samuel 4:7; 2 Samuel 13:1-39 :0] and the king was very old [the repetition (see 2 Samuel 13:1) is not idle or unmeaning. Here the word refers to feebleness rather than age. It is mentioned to explain David's confinement to his chamber] and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king. [This is introduced to show the king's helplessness. It does not prove that "there was a disinterested witness present" (Rawlinson), for she may have withdrawn, as Bathsheba did presently (2 Samuel 13:23), and Nathan (2 Samuel 13:32). It is a graphic touch, painted probably from the life, and by the hand of Nathan, from whom this narrative is derived.
1 Kings 1:16
And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance [cf. 2 Samuel 14:4. But we are hardly justified in seeing here "more than the ordinary Eastern salutation" (Rawlinson). The Jewish court seems to have been very ceremonious and stately (1 Samuel 24:8; 2 Samuel 19:24). The king was the representative of Heaven]. And the king said, What wouldest thou [marg; What to thee? Not necessarily, What thy supplication? (as Rawlinson). It rather means generally, "What thy business?" Quid tibi, not quid petis.
1 Kings 1:17
And she said unto him, My Lord, thou swarest by the Lord thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne.
1 Kings 1:18
And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now my Lord the king, thou knowest it not.
1 Kings 1:19
And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host; but Solomon thy servant hath he not called. [Said, not to "show that Solomon had reason to fear the worst if Adonijah should succeed" (Keil), but to prove that there was a plot. It showed the cloven foot.]
1 Kings 1:20
And thou [instead of וְאַתָּה, the Chald; Syr; and Vulg; with many MSS, read וְעַתָּה "and now;" but this looks like an emendation, and "proclivi lectioni praestat ardua." Similarly, the second "now" in 1 Kings 1:18 appears as "thou" in 200 MSS. These variations are of very little consequence, but the received text, in both cases, is somewhat the more spirited] my lord, O king [the repetition (see 1 Kings 1:18, 1 Kings 1:21, 1 Kings 1:24, 1 Kings 1:27) illustrates the profound deference and court paid to the Hebrew monarch (see on 1 Kings 1:16), especially when we remember that these are the words of a wife], the eyes of all Israel are upon thee (cf. 1 Kings 2:15) that thou shouldest ten them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. This shows that there was no "right of primogeniture." The kings of the East have always designated their successor amongst their sons. "Alyattes designated Croesus; Cyrus designated Cambyses, and Darius designated Xerxes" (Rawlinson). "The Shah of Persia, at the eginning of this century, had sixty sons, all brought up by their mothers, with the hope of succeeding" (Holier, quoted by Stanley). And the kings of Israel claimed and exercised a similar right (2 Chronicles 11:22; 2 Chronicles 21:3).
1 Kings 1:21
Otherwise [there is no corresponding word in the Hebrews] it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep [strictly, "lie down:" see on 1 Kings 2:10] with his fathers [this phrase, so common in the books of Kings and Chronicles, only occurs "once in the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 31:16) and once in the historical books before Kings" (Rawlinson). It was evidently the product of an age when the nation was settled, and men had their family sepulchres] that I and my son Solomon shall be counted [Hebrews be] offenders [Hebrews as marg; sinners. The primary meaning of חָטָא is "to miss the mark." Like ἁμαρτάνειν, it came to be used of all erring and transgression. Bathsheba and Solomon would be obnoxious to Adonijah, as representing a rival cause; possibly also as guilty of high treason (Clericus, Bähr, al.)
1 Kings 1:22
And lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in. [Heb. came, i.e; to the palace. "Came in" almost implies that he entered the room, which he did not till summoned (verse 23). Observe, Nathan's words convey no suggestio falsi. He does not deny a previous interview with Bathsheba, nor does he confess it. If there is an appearance of artifice, there was no intention to deceive. And the artifice, such as it was, was not only harmless, but for the public good.
1 Kings 1:23
And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet [we are scarcely justified in seeing in this "solemn announcement of his approach" an "indication of the consideration in which he was held" (Stanley). It is difficult to see how otherwise he could be announced. It is clear that he was constantly spoken of as "the prophet" (1 Kings 1:10, 1 Kings 1:22, 1 Kings 1:34, 1 Kings 1:38, etc. Cf. 2 Samuel 7:2; 2 Samuel 12:25]. And when he was come in before [Hebrews and he came before—three words instead of six] the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground [see on verses 16, 20; and cf. verse 31, where we have a similar expression. "In the Assyrian sculptures, ambassadors are represented with their faces actually touching the earth before the feet of the monarch" (Rawlinson). This profound reverence on the part of Nathan is the more remarkable, when we remember how he had once denounced David to his face (Samuel Hebrews 12:7)].
1 Kings 1:24
And Nathan said, My Lord, O king, hast thou said [the Hebrews has no question, but a strong affirmation: "thou hast said," i.e; "thou must have said (Du hast wohl gesagt." Bähr). Nathan puts it thus forcibly, in order to draw from the king a disclaimer], Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? [Same words as in 1 Kings 1:13, 1 Kings 1:17, and possibly designedly so. The coincidence conveys the meaning, "Thou hast sworn Solomon shall reign," etc. "Thou hast said, Adonijah shall reign," etc.]
1 Kings 1:25
For [proof that the king must have decreed that Adonijah should succeed him. There appears to be an undertone of reproof in these words. Nathan assumes that Adonijah cannot have done all this without David's knowledge and sanction, because "his father had not displeased him at any time" (1 Kings 1:6). This uprising was the result of David's over indulgence and. want of firmness] he is gone down this day, and hath slain [see on 1 Kings 1:9] oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host [Joab was the captain (1 Kings 1:19). The plural shows that other high officers had followed his lead. "Under the captains of the host (1 Kings 1:25), the servants of the king (1 Kings 1:10) are included" (Bähr). Bähr's accidental miscitation (1 Kings 1:10 for 1 Kings 1:9) has apparently led his American translator to the serious mistake of identifying these "captains of the host" with "the mighty men" (Gibborim) of 1 Kings 1:10, who, it is distinctly said, "were not with Adonijah] and Abtathar the priest, and behold, they eat and drink before him [convivia apta conjurationibus. Grotius] and say, God save king Adonijah. [Hebrews "let the king Adonijah live," or better, "live the king," etc. (comp. the vivat rex, and the vives and vivas of later days.) This was the customary acclamation wherewith the Jews greeted their kings (cf. verse 39; 1 Samuel 10:24; 2 Samuel 16:16 : 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Chronicles 23:11).
1 Kings 1:26
But me, even me [Heb. I] thy servant [to Nathan this omission was most significant. He seems to say that he had not been called because he had been concerned in the appointment of a successor 2 Samuel 7:13] and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon [Bähr thinks that "we have in the order of these names a climax, in which Solomon, as the highest personage, is named last"] hath he not called.
1 Kings 1:27
Is this thing done [ אִם = an, or perhaps, num, "Is it then the ease that," etc.] by [lit; from with] my lord the king [i.e; with his privity and by his appointment], and thou hast not showed it unto thy servant [Hebrews "made thy servant know." Nathan submits that he has a strong claim (2 Samuel 12:25) to be informed, should there be any change in the king's plans], who should sit upon the throne of my lord the king after him? [Same expression as in verse 20. The repetition was well calculated to impress upon the king the importance of nominating a successor at once.
1 Kings 1:28
Then king David [see on verse I] answered and said, Call me Bathsheba [she evidently left the chamber when Nathan entered it. "This was done, not to avoid the appearance of a mutual arrangement (Cler; Then. al.), but for reasons of propriety, inasmuch as in audiences granted by the king to his wife or one of his counsellors, no third person ought to be present unless the king required his assistance." Keil.] And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king. [Here, as in numberless other instances, our translators have disregarded literalness in favour of euphony. The Hebrew has here an exact repetition, "came before the king, and stood before the king." The Authorized Version rendering was adopted as the more spirited and rhythmical.
1 Kings 1:29
And the king sware [see on 1 Kings 1:51] and said, As the Lord liveth [or "by the life of Jehovah." Cf. "by the life of Pharaoh" (Genesis 42:15). This was the common form of oath. See, e.g; 1 Kings 2:24; 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 14:39; 1 Samuel 19:6; 1 Samuel 20:24; 1 Samuel 29:6; and especially Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 5:2; Hosea 4:15. It is characteristic of David to introduce into the formula some such clause as the following], that hath redeemed my soul [i.e; life] out of all distress. Same expression as in 2 Samuel 4:9. Similar expressions are found in Psalms 25:22, and Psalms 34:22. The repeated deliverance out of straits and danger—"out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul"—was one of the most remarkable features of David's life, and it is no wonder that he repeatedly commemorates it, converting every adjuration into an act of thanksgiving. Similarly, Jacob (Genesis 48:16.)
1 Kings 1:30
Even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of Israel, saying, Assuredly [Heb. כי that, often prefixed to the oratio directa; not lending any emphasis ( = immo), as Keil says the first and third כי of this verse do, but in English simply redundant. See on verses 13, 17] Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne [same words as in verses 13, 17, 24. These close repetitions are the habit of the East] in my stead, even so [Heb. that so] will I
, suggested to David by the usus loquendi of the court. This expression seems at first a strange periphrasis for "my servants." But David naturally adopts the language those around him were always using. See verse 43; also 2 Samuel 11:11, and 2 Samuel 20:6. Note: The latter passage, which refers to the king, has the plur.; the former, referring to Joab, the sing.] and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, [lit; "the she mule" (the most prized in the East. Cf. 5:10, Hebrews) "which is mine." This was not merely a mark of honour (cf. Genesis 41:43; Esther 6:8, Esther 6:9), but a public and very significant indication of David's will respecting his successor. The populace would perceive at once who was destined to sit in David's seat. "The Rabbins tell us that it was death to ride on the king's mule without his permission" (Rawlinson). פִרְדָּה, the fem. form is only found here and in verses 38, 44. The mule would seem to have been a recent importation into Palestine—we never read of them before the time of David—and the Israelites were forbidden to breed them (Le 2 Samuel 19:19 ). Their use, consequently, was naturally restricted to royal or distinguished personages (2 Samuel 13:29). Wordsworth sees in the word a proof that David had not disobeyed God by multiplying horses to himself], and bring him down to Gihon. [Not Gibeon, which Thenius most arbitrarily would substitute for the received text. Where was Gihon? The popular belief (accepted by Bähr and Keil, as well as by some geographers) is that it was in the valley of the Son of Hinnom, a part of which still bears the name of Gihon, i.e; to the west of Jerusalem, and not far from the Jaffa gate. By many indeed the present Birket-es-Sultan is identified with the Lower Pool of Gihon. But others (Ferguson, Rawlinson, etc.) see in it the ancient name of the Tyropaeon. Scripture does not speak of it as a spring, though the "source of the waters of Gihon" is mentioned 2 Chronicles 32:30, Hebrews The text shows that it was below the city ("bring him down upon Gihon," verse 33. Cf. also verse 40). 2 Chronicles 33:14, speaks of "Gihon in the valley," where it is very noticeable that the word used is Nachal (i.e. Wady, watercourse). But this "is the word always employed for the valley of the Kedron, east of Jerusalem, the so called valley of Jehoshaphat; ge (ravine or glen) being as constantly employed for the valley of Hinnom, south and west of the town" (Grove," Dict. Bible," art. Gihon). It is also to be noticed that the text last cited mentions Gihon in connection with Ophel, which lies southeast of Jerusalem.. The Chald; Arab; and Syr. are probably right, therefore, in identifying Gihon here with Siloam (which lies at the foot of Ophel), in favour of which it may further be said that it would be admirably suited for David's purpose—of a counter demonstration—and that whether En-Rogel is to be found at the Well of the Virgin or the Well of Job. Siloam is at no great distance from either, and quite within earshot, whereas the traditional Gihon is altogether out of the way. It must be borne in mind that this procession to and from Gihon was ordained, not because there was any special reason for anointing Solomon there ― for it was not a holy place—but purely as a demonstration to the populace, and to checkmate the conspirators. It was probably a public place, and would accommodate a large concourse (Poole).
1 Kings 1:34
And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet [Bähr sees in the fact that Nathan was associated with Zadok in the anointing, "the high significance David attributed to the prophetic office in Israel" But the prophets constantly performed this ceremony. Samuel anointed both Saul and David; Elisha anointed Jehu (2 Kings 9:1), and was commissioned to anoint Hazael (1 Kings 19:15, 1 Kings 19:16) ] anoint him [the king, being a sacred personage, was set apart to the office, like the priest and prophet, by anointing. Saul was probably anointed twice (1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 11:15. Cf. 1 Samuel 12:3). David was anointed thrice (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3. Solomon was anointed twice (verse 39; 1 Chronicles 29:22). The Rabbins have always held that subsequent kings were not anointed, where the succession was regular. But this opinion must be taken quantum valet. It is true that we only read of the anointing of Jehu (2 Kings 9:6), Joash (2 Kings 11:12), and Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:30), and that in these three cases the accession was irregular. But it is obvious that other kings may have been anointed as well, though the fact is not recorded. There would be no reason for recording it in ordinary cases It seems hardly likely, too, that any king would readily dispense with an ordinance which would so much strengthen his title] there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet [the sound of the trumpet would almost seem to have been a necessary accompaniment of coronations, or the proclamation of a new king. See 2 Samuel 15:10; 2 Kings 9:13; 2 Kings 11:14], and say, God cave king Solomon. [See on verse 25.]
1 Kings 1:35
Then ye shall come up. Besides, we can hardly suppose that the historian has in every case, though he probably has in this, preserved the exact words of the speaker; and it need cause us no surprise had he put into David's mouth the phraseology of a later age. In the nature of things he can only give us the substance of conversations such as these.
1 Kings 1:36
And Benaiah the son of Johoiada [probably he spoke, not because the execution of the order depended upon him (Bähr); for both Zadok and Nathan had a much more important part to perform, but as a blunt soldier who was accustomed to speak his mind] answered the king and said, Amen: the Lord God [lit; "Jehovah, he God," etc.] of my lord the king say so too.
1 Kings 1:37
As the Lord hath been with my lord the king [cf. 1 Samuel 20:13. "This phrase expresses a very high degree of the Divine favour" (Rawlinson). See Genesis 26:3, Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:15; Genesis 39:2,Genesis 39:21; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 22:11, etc.], even so be he with Solomon, and make has throne greater than the throne of my lord king David. [This was said from a full and honest heart, not to flatter David's vanity (Thenius). It is thoroughly characteristic of the man so far as we know him. And the prayer was fulfilled (1 Kings 3:11,1 Kings 3:12).]
1 Kings 1:38
So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites [these were the royal bodyguard— σωματοφύλακες Josephus calls them—who were commanded by Benaiah (2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 15:18; 2 Samuel 20:23; 2 Samuel 23:28). But while their functions are pretty well understood, great difference of opinion exists as to the origin or meaning of the words. By some they are supposed to be Gentile names. A tribe of Cherethites is mentioned 1 Samuel 30:14. (Cf. Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5), and in close connexion with the Philistines (1 Samuel 30:16). Hence Cherethite has been thought to be another name for Philistine; and as the LXX. and Syr. render the word "Cretans," it has been conjectured that the Philistines had their origin from Crete. They did come from Caphtor, and that is probably Crete (see Genesis 10:14; Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7; Deuteronomy 2:23). פְּלֵתִי again, is not unlike פְּלִשְּׁתִי In favor of this view is the fact that David certainly had a bodyguard of foreign mercenaries (2 Samuel 15:18, where the "Gittites" are connected with the Cherethites). Nor does it make against it that "two designations" would thus "be employed side by side for one and the same people"—as if we should speak of Britons and Englishmen (Bähr). For the names look like a paronomasia—of which the Jews were very fond—and a trick of this kind would at once account for the tautology. [Since writing this, I find the same idea has already occurred to Ewald.] But the other view, adopted by Gesenius, is that the names are names of office and function. Cherethite he would derive from תָרַך, cut, slay; and by Cherethites he would understand "executioners," which the royal bodyguard were in ancient despotisms (Genesis 39:1, Hebrews; Daniel 2:14, etc. See on 1 Kings 2:25 ). In the Pelethites ( פֶּלֶת, swiftness) he would see the public couriers ( ἄγγαροι) of Eastern men. archies (see Herod. 8:98 and 2 Chronicles 30:6). We see the guard discharging the function first named in 2 Kings 10:25; 2 Kings 11:4, 2 Kings 11:8; and the latter in 1 Kings 14:27 (marg.)] went down [i.e; from the palace on Mount Zion] and caused Solomon to ride upon King David's mule, and brought him to [ עַל : cf. 1 Kings 2:26] Gihon [Chald; Syr; Arab; Shiloha].
1 Kings 1:39
And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil [Hebrews the oil. The "holy anointing oil," Exodus 30:25, Exodus 30:31, compounded as directed in Exodus 30:23-25, was evidently part of the furniture of the tabernacle (Exodus 31:11; Exodus 39:38). Eleazer was charged with its preservation (Numbers 4:16), and the Rabbins say it lasted till the captivity] out of the tabernacle [the tabernacle on Mount Zion, containing the ark (2 Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 15:1) must be meant here. There was not time to have gone to the tabernacle at Gihon (Stanley), which was three hours distance from Jerusalem (Keil). Though Abiathar had charge of this sanctuary, yet Zadok would readily gain access to it, especially in the king's name] and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet [cf. 2 Samuel 15:10; 2 Kings 9:13; 2 Kings 11:14]; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. [Notice the exact fulfilment of the threefold charge of verse 34 and its result. Solomon was confirmed in his office by the suffrages of the people.]
1 Kings 1:40
And all the people came up after him [same expression as 1 Kings 1:35. The procession, the sound of the trumpets, etc; had collected a large crowd, which followed Solomon on his return], and the people piped [Heb. were piping] with pipes [pipes or flutes were used on occasions of rejoicing (Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 30:29. Cf. 1 Samuel 10:5), and so of mourning (Jeremiah 48:36; Matthew 9:23). It is true that a very slight change ( מְחֹלְלִיף בְּחלִים instead of מִחַלְּלִים בַּחֲלִלִים) will give the meaning, "dancing with dances," which Ewald prefers, on the ground that "all the people" could not have produced their pipes at a moment's notice. But the objection loses its force when it is observed (Rawlinson) that the text implies that only some of the people piped. "All the people came up … and the people," etc. Besides, even if it were not so, some allowance is surely to be made for Eastern hyperbole. And the received text is to be preferred on other grounds. The LXX; however, has ἐχόρευον ἐν χοροῖς], and rejoiced with great joy [Hebrews "were rejoicing a great joy"], and the earth rent [this is certainly a strangly hyperbolical expression. For בָּקַע strictly means to cleave asunder, tear open (see, e.g; Numbers 16:31; Amos 1:13; 2 Chronicles 25:12). And Thenius suggests a slight emendation of the text, viz; וַתִּתָּקַע (i.e; "resounded") for וַתִּבָּקַע which would obviate this difficulty. He points out that while the LXX. Cod. Vat. has ἐρράγη, some versions have ἤχησεν, and the Vulg. insonuit. But perhaps it is safer to keep to the lectio ardua] with the sound of them [Heb. "with their voices"].
1 Kings 1:41
And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it [it is probable they "were listening with some anxiety to hear if anything would occur." Rawlinson] as they had made an end [Heb. "and they had finished"] of eating, And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet [the original almost implies that Joab's practised ear was the first to catch the note of the trumpet. He seems to have been the first to suspect its significance], he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar? [More exactly, "in commotion." הוֹמָה, an onomatopoetic word, like our English "hum." We speak of the "hum of the city," "the buzz of business," etc.]
1 Kings 1:42
And while he yet spake, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest [Cf. 2 Samuel 15:36; 2 Samuel 17:17. His experience had marked him out for the post of watchman] came [That he bad not arrived before shows how prompt, and even hurried, had been the measures taken by Solomon's party] and Adonijah said unto him [Hebrews and LXX. omit "unto him"] Come in [Heb. come. See on verse 22. "Come in" suggests the idea of a house or tent, whereas the feast was al fresco]; for thou art a valiant man [it is Adonijah (not Joab, as Bähr—of course by an oversight—says) who speaks thus. Perhaps "able," "honest," or "worthy man" (cf. verse 52; same word in Hebrews; also Proverbs 12:4) would be nearer the mark. "Valiant" is clearly out of place] and bringest good tidings. [A similar expression 2 Samuel 18:27. It was evidently a familiar saying. The idea, "a good man will bring good news" corresponds with that of the proverb of 1 Samuel 24:13. Adonijah's misgivings reveal themselves in these words. He fears the worst, but strives to put on a cheerful face and to encourage his guests.]
1 Kings 1:43
And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily [Rather, "nay but," "on the contrary" (immo vero). See Genesis 17:19, Heb; "Nay, but Sarah thy wife," etc; and Gesen; Thesaurus, sub voce אֲבָל . This particle has not "always an objecting force" (Rawlinson)—see Genesis 42:21, and especially 2 Samuel 14:5; 2 Kings 4:14—but only in the later Hebrew, e.g; 2 Chronicles 19:3; 2 Chronicles 33:17] our Lord king David hath made Solomon king.
1 Kings 1:44
And the king hath sent with Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites [see on 1 Kings 1:38], and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule.
1 Kings 1:45
And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city [ קִרְיָה same word as in 1 Kings 1:41. Elsewhere almost exclusively found in poetry] rang again [rather, "is in commotion." Same expression in 1 Kings 1:41 and Ruth 1:19, where it is translated, "the city was moved"]. This is the noise [Heb. voice] that ye have heard.
1 Kings 1:46
And also [the same two words are found at the beginning of 1 Kings 1:47, 68. They accord well with the breathless and excited state of the speaker, and suggest how each successive detail told on the hearers] Solomon sitteth [rather, "sate, took his seat," ἐκαθισε (LXX.) aorist. See 1 Kings 1:35] on the throne of the kingdom [rather, "the royal throne." So Gesen. All David's directions were now fulfilled].
1 Kings 1:47
And moreover [ וְגַם as before] the king's servants [see on 1 Kings 1:33] came to bless our lord king David [Jonathan here refers in all probability to the words of Benaiah, 1 Kings 1:36, 1 Kings 1:37. He does not know the exact particulars, and ascribes to the "servants" the words of their commander. Of course it is possible that "the bodyguard took up the words of Jehoiada (Benaiah?) their captain and repeated them with some slight alteration." Rawlinson] saying, God [so the Keri. The Cethib has "thy God"] make the name of Solomon better than thy name and make his throne greater than thy throne [This prayer was fulfilled (1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:21-24]. And the king bowed himself [in worship. Cf. Genesis 47:31] upon the bed.
1 Kings 1:48
And also thus saith the king, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it. [These last words are added because it is quite an exceptional thing for a king to see his successor on the throne.]
1 Kings 1:49
And all the guests [Heb. called, LXX. κλητοὶ] that were with [Heb. to] Adonijah were afraid [Heb. trembled] and rose up [LXX. omits] and went every man his way. [This fear and flight betray a consciousness of guilt. They cannot have believed in the right of primogeniture.]
1 Kings 1:50
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon and he arose and went and caught hold of the horns of the altar. [Cf. 1 Kings 2:28. Probably the altar of Mount Zion, 1 Kings 3:15; 2 Samuel 6:17. Though it is impossible to say positively whether this or the altar at Gibeon (2 Samuel 3:4) or that recently erected on the threshing floor of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:25) is meant. For the "horns," see Exodus 27:2; Exodus 38:2; and compare Exodus 30:2. They were of shittim (i.e; acacia) wood overlaid with brass, and served a double purpose. Victims were bound to them (Psalms 118:27), and blood was put upon them, Exodus 29:12. As to the altar as a place of sanctuary, see on 1 Kings 2:28. Evidently a right of sanctuary existed amongst both Jews and Gentiles at the time of the Exodus, and probably from time immemorial. It is referred to in Exodus 21:14, but it was much circumscribed by the appointment of the cities of refuge (Numbers 35:10 sqq.) By "laying hold of the horns the offender thereby placed himself under the protection of the saving and helping grace of God" (Bähr, "Symbolik," 1:474)
1 Kings 1:51
And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold Adonijah feareth King Solomon, for lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, let king Solomon [this repetition of the title is striking. Both courtiers and criminals hasten to give the young king his new honours. In Adonijah's mouth it is also a virtual abdication of his claim to the throne and a direct acknowledgment of the new monarch. But see on 1 Kings 1:1 and 1 Kings 1:35.] swear unto me today [Cf. 2 Samuel 19:23. This is one of many passages which show how lightly the Jews esteemed promises in comparison with oaths. The sentiment possibly took its rise in the oaths sworn by the Divine Being (Genesis 22:16; Genesis 24:7; Exodus 16:16, etc.), though it is possible, on the other hand, that these asseverations were made in deference to the popular sentiment. Be that as it may, the oath held a much more conspicuous and important place in the Jewish than the Christian economy. See Genesis 21:23; Genesis 31:23; Numbers 14:2; Numbers 30:2; 15:12; 21:1; 1 Samuel 14:28; Jeremiah 5:2, and, to omit other passages, 1 Kings 1:13; 1 Kings 2:8, 1 Kings 2:23, 1 Kings 2:42. Even our Lord, who rebuked the habit (Matthew 5:34-37; Matthew 23:16-22) respected the adjuration of Caiaphas, and St. Paul frequently appeals to God (Acts 26:29; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Philippians 1:8.) The Christian religion, as it has gradually begotten a reverence for truth, has made the simple word into a bond] that he will not slay his servant [Cf. "I will be King," 1 Kings 2:5.] with the sword [the usual form of capital punishment, 1 Kings if. 8, 25, 31, 46. Adonijah indirectly confesses that he had merited death].
1 Kings 1:51
And Solomon said [i.e; he refused to swear], If he will shew himself a worthy man [ בֶּן־חַיִל, cf. אִיש־חַיִל, 1 Kings 1:42 ], there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth [i.e; not a single hair shall be injured. Same expression 1 Samuel 14:45; 2 Samuel 14:11; Acts 27:34. It was evidently a familiar saying] but if wickedness shall be found in him, [i.e; if he shall commit any fresh crime] he shall die [Hebrew וָמֵת, "then he shall die," emphatic.]
1 Kings 1:53
So King Solomon sent and they brought him down [The altar was elevated: probably a slope, not steps (Exodus 20:26) led to it] from [Hebrew from upon. He was still clinging to it] the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon [i.e; made obeisance to him as king. Cf. 1 Kings 1:16, 1 Kings 1:23, 1 Kings 1:31] and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house. This was not a sentence of banishment from court, but merely a dismissal to a private life, involving a tacit admonition to live quietly and be thankful that his life was spared him. "Vade in domum tuam, ibi quiesce et res tuas age, nec te publicis regni mei negotiis immisceas" (Corn. A Lapide).
1 Kings 1:1
The chamber of sickness.
This opening chapter of 1 Kings introduces us into the privacy of a sick room. Stretched upon a couch, covered with many folds of rich Eastern drapery, we see a feeble, decrepit, attenuated man. At his side stands a fair young girl, assiduously ministering to his wants. From time to time the door opens, and prophet, priest, and warrior enter to receive his instructions; for happily the mind is not a wreck like the body. Its vigour is hardly abated, though the bodily strength is well nigh exhausted. He has but reached the appointed threescore years and ten, and yet—such have been the hardships of his life—the vital force is spent. They cover him with clothes, but he gets no heat. The flame of life is slowly but surely expiring. But we see at once that this is no ordinary room; that this is no common patient. The gorgeous apparel, the purple and fine linen, the "attendance of ministers, the standing of servants," proclaim it a king's court. And the insignia, the pomp, the profound homage proclaim that this sick man is a king. Yes, it is David, second king of Israel, but second to none in goodness and true greatness, who lies here. His chequered life, so full of romance, of chivalry, of piety, is drawing near its close. But the hour of death is preceded by a period of feebleness and decay. For sickness is no respecter of persons. It, too, like death, "thunders at the palace gates of kings and the dwellings of the poor." There is no release in that war,
"Sceptre and crown must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor common scythe and spade."
The sickness of David, then, may fittingly suggest some thoughts as to sickness in general. What, let us ask, is its purpose, what its uses? Why is it that, as a rule, a period of gradual decay precedes death? For it is worthy of remark that man alone, of all the animals, dies of disease. Among all the myriad forms of life, that is, he alone dies gradually. The lower animals, as a rule, prey upon each other. Beasts, birds, fishes, insects, all die a violent death. No sooner is one of them attacked by sickness, or enfeebled by old age, than it is dispatched and devoured by its fellows. It is thus the balance of the species is preserved. But in the case of men, sudden death is the exception. For them there remains, as a rule, a discipline of pain prior to dissolution. It is well to ask why this is. The general answer is, of course, obvious. It is because of that other life, that future reckoning which awaits men after death. Let us consider, however, in what ways sickness and pain are a preparation for the life and the judgment to come.
I. SICKNESS IS GOD'S NOTICE TO QUIT. We should think it hard to be ejected from our home and turned into the street without due notice. We want a little time to make preparations. Especially is this the case when we are leaving our earthly tabernacle—leaving not a home, but a world. Now God has given us abundant and repeated notice in the various accidents and occurrences of life. Too often, however, both the lessons of Providence and the warnings of the preacher are unheeded. So the Lover of souls will give men a final warning, and one that they cannot mistake, cannot well disregard. They shall feel it in their own persons. Sickness shall bid them set their house in order and prepare to meet their God. A German fable tells us that once upon a time Death promised a young man that he would not summon him until he had first sent several messengers to apprize him of his coming. So the youth took his fill of pleasure, and wasted health and strength in riotous living. Presently, a fever laid him low. But as no messenger had appeared, he had no apprehensions; and when he recovered, he returned forthwith to his former sins. He then fell a prey to other maladies, but, remembering his covenant with Death, made light of them. "I am not going to die," he cried; "the first messenger has not yet come." But one day some one tapped him on the shoulder. He turned, and saw Death standing at his elbow. "Follow me." said the King of Terrors; "the hour of thy departure is come." "How is this?" exclaimed the youth; "thou art false to thy word! Thou didst promise to send me messengers, and I have seen none." "Silence!" sternly answered the Destroyer. "I have sent thee messenger after messenger. What was the fever? What was the apoplexy? What was each sickness that befel thee? Each was my herald; each was my messenger." Yes, the first use of sickness is to remind men of death. And how much they need that reminder we may learn from the case of David. He had long been familiar with death, lie was no stranger to "th' imminent deadly breach," had known many "hairbreadth 'scapes," and often there had been "but a step between his soul and death." Nay, he had once seen the Destroyer himself, seen him standing with his drawn sword ready to smite. And yet the man who had faced death, who had long carried his life in his hand, receives a final warning ere its close. That sickness, perhaps, first brought home to him his mortality, first cried to him, "Thus saith the LORD GOD, Remove the diadem and take off the crown" (Ezekiel 21:26). But
II. SICKNESS IS GOD'S WAY OF WEANING MEN FROM THE WORLD. It is natural to cling to life; but it is necessary we should be made willing to leave it. The wrench is felt the less when some of the ties which bind us to earth have been sundered: when life loses its attractions. It is the office of pain and sickness to make life valueless, to make men anxious to depart. How often it happens that men who at the beginning of illness will not hear of death are presently found praying for their release. Such are the "uses of adversity." An old writer compares affliction to the bitter unguent which nursing mothers who would wean their offspring sometimes put upon their breast. A few weeks on the couch of pain, and we soon cry out that life is not worth the living.
III. SICKNESS IS GOD'S DISCIPLINE FOR PARADISE. True it is that all "earthly care is a heavenly discipline." All the ills that flesh is heir to are designed to be the instruments of our perfection. Like the Captain of our salvation, we are "made perfect through sufferings." For us, as for Him, "the cross is the ladder to heaven." Those are two suggestive words, which only differ by one letter— παθήματα, μαθήματα, "afflictions, instructions." But while all affliction is a school, the last illness should be the finishing school. At the last assay the furnace must he heated more than it has been wont to be. "I have learnt more," said Mr. Cecil, "within these curtains in six weeks than I have learnt in all my life before." The chamber of sickness is an enforced Retreat. There, ears "that the preacher could not school" are compelled to listen. There, "lips say 'God be pitiful' which ne'er said 'God be praised.' There, many have learnt for the first time to know themselves. And how necessary is this last discipline David's sick chamber may teach us; for he had already had his share of troubles. His life had been largely spent in. the school of adversity." In journeyings often, in peril of robbers," etc. (2 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 11:26), these words aptly describe his early career. And even since he ascended the throne, how often has the sword gone through his soul. Amnon, Absalom, Tamer, Abner, Amasa, what tragedies are connected with these names. Few men have experienced such a long and bitter discipline as he; and it would seem, too, to have accomplished its world. If we may judge by some of his later Psalms, full of contrition, of humility, of devout breathings after God, that sweet and sanctified soul had "learned obedience by the things which he suffered." But he is not spared the final chastening. The sweet singer of Israel, the man after God's own heart, must go awhile into the gloom and the silence of the sick room, there to be made fully "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." Men often pray to be spared a long sickness, often commiserate those who experience one. But we have learned that it has its uses. We see that it is a last chance given to men: a last solemn warning, a final chastening to prepare them for the beatific vision. The Neapolitans call one of the wards of their hospital L'Antecamera della Motre—the ante chamber of death. It is thus that we should regard every "chamber of sickness."
1 Kings 1:5 sqq. with 1 Kings 2:13 sqq
Adonijah's history and its lessons.
I. HE WAS A SPOILT CHILD.—"His father had not displeased him at any time." (1 Kings 1:7). There is no greater unkindness and injustice to a child than over indulgence. The child is the father of the man. The boy who has all his own way will certainly want it in after life, and will not get it, to his own disappointment and the unhappiness of all around him. He that loveth his son chasteneth him betimes. David was probably so engrossed with public cares and duties that his first care, after God—his family—was neglected. How unwise are those parents who devolve the care of their children at the most critical and impressionable time of life on domestics, who are often ill suited or unequal to the charge. One of the first duties a child demands of its parents is that it should be corrected and conquered. The will must be broken in youth. The sapling may be bent, not so the trunk. David's unwise indulgence, his sparing the rod, prepared a rod for his own and Adonijah's back. It was the sin of Eli that "his sons made themselves vile and he restrained them not." And one sin of David was that he had not checked and "displeased" this wilful son.
II. HE WAS ENDOWED BY NATURE WITH A DANGEROUS PROPERTY. "He also was a very goodly man." Gifts of form and feature, much as all admire them, and much as some covet them, are frequently a snare to their possessor. Perhaps, upon the whole, personal beauty has oftener proved a curse than a blessing. "For the most part," says Lord Bacon, "it maketh a dissolute youth." Oftener still it spoils the character. The conceit of the Platonists, that a beautiful body loves to have a beautiful soul to inhabit it, is unhappily not borne out by facts. "A pretty woman," it has been said, and it is often true, "adores herself" (Eugenie de Guerin). The natural tendency of this possession is to engender pride, selfishness, conceit, ambition. A striking exterior has often cost its possessor dear. It did both Absalom and Adonijah no good. It is worthy of notice that it was David's "goodly" sons conspired against him, and it was his "fair" daughter Tamar was dishonoured. Adonijah's face was an important factor in his history: it contributed to his ruin. It favoured, perhaps it suggested, his pretensions to the throne. He thought, no doubt, "the first in beauty should be first in might." Had he been blessed with an insignificant appearance he would probably have saved his head. As it was, courted and admired, he thought the fairest woman of her time was alone a fit match for him; and pride whispered that a man of such a presence was marked out for a king, and so urged him to his ruin. Let us teach our children to covet only "the beauty of the soul."
III. HE WAS CURSED WITH AN INORDINATE AMBITION. "I will be king." "Cursed," for it has cursed and blighted many lives. Like the ignis fatuus, it has lured men to their destruction. It has been well called "a deadly tyrant, an inexorable master." "Ambition," says the most eloquent of divines, "is the most troublesome and veratious passion that can afflict the sons of men. It is full of distractions, it teems with stratagems, and is swelled with expectations as with a tympany. It is an infinite labour to make a man's self miserable; he makes his days full of sorrow to acquire a three years' reign." What a striking illustration of these words does Adonijah's history supply. If he could but have been content to fill the second place he might have lived honoured, happy, and useful. But ambition soured and then cut short his life. How much of the misery of the world is caused by despising "that state of life unto which it has pleased God to call us" and stretching out after another for which we are not fitted. Adonijah's history teaches this lesson—Solomon may have partly drawn it from his life and death—"Pride goeth before destruction," etc.
IV. HE STOOPED TO UNWORTHY MEANS TO ATTAIN HIS OBJECT. "Chariots," "horses, fifty men to run before him." It is much like the Roman device, "Panem et circenses." History repeats itself. But these things were almost innocent compared with the measures he took when these failed. The smooth intrigue of a marriage, the employment of the king's mother as his tool, the plausible words, the semblance of resignation to the Divine will—and all this to overthrow a brother who had generously spared his life. And all this was the outcome of ambition—ambition which makes men trample on the living and the dead. Alas! we never know to what base courses we may be reduced if we once embark in immoral enterprises. Adonijah's "I will be king" led to conspiracy, rebellion, intrigue, ingratitude; to defiance of a father, of a brother, of God.
V. HE WAS NOT WITHOUT WARNING, BUT IT WAS IN VAIN. The failure of his first conspiracy, the abject terror which followed, the flight to the sanctuary, the terrified clinging to the horns of the altar, the piteous entreaty for life—these things should have been remembered, should have "changed his hand and checked his pride." Still more, his brother's magnanimity, "there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth;" or, if not that, his message, "If wickedness be found in him he shall die." All are of no avail. The passion for empire, like the passion for play, is almost incurable. Adonijah was playing for a throne: he staked honour, safety, piety—and lost. He played again—and this time a drawn sword was suspended over his head—he staked his life, and lost it.
VI. HE WAS SUDDENLY CUT OFF, AND THAT WITHOUT REMEDY. And this was the end of the spoiled child, of the "curled darling;" this the end of his pomp and circumstance, of his flattery and intrigue, of his steadfast resistance of the will of heaven—that the sword of the headsman smote him that he died. Instead of the throne, the tomb; instead of the sceptre, the sword. Chariots and horses, visions of empire, visions of love—one fell thrust of the steel put an end to all that. Died Adonijah as a fool dieth, ingloriously, ignobly. "When we are dead, all the world sees who was the fool." Adonijah's death was the fitting and natural conclusion of his life. He has sowed to the wind: what wonder if he reaps to the whirlwind.
1 Kings 1:5
Adonijah and the Lord's Anointed.
The conspiracy of Adonijah and its issue may suggest some lessons as to the kingdom of Christ and those who oppose His reign. For consider—
I. SOLOMON IS A TYPE OF OUR BLESSED LORD. This is universally allowed. The true "son of David" is the Son of God. He is the Divine Wisdom, the true Anointed One, the eternal King of Israel. Solomon "the peaceful" prefigured the great "Prince of Peace."
II. THE KINGDOM OF SOLOMON FORESHADOWED CHRIST'S REIGN. This is taught "by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture" (see e.g; Luke 1:32, Luke 1:33, and cf. 2 Samuel 7:11, 2 Samuel 7:12; Psalms 72:11, sqq.; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 16:5; Jeremiah 23:5).
III. THE OPPOSITION TO SOLOMON'S RULE PREFIGURED THE RESISTANCE OF THE POWERS OF THIS WORLD TO CHRIST. The second Psalm, the primary reference of which is to Solomon, has its absolute fulfilment in our Lord (Acts 4:25-27). Note here
IV. THE COURSE OF ADONIJAH'S CONSPIRACY FORESHADOWS
V. THE DURATION OF THE CONSPIRACY PREFIGURES
The conspiracy lasted at the longest a few weeks; the peaceful reign of Solomon extended over forty years. The conspiracy against Christ has lasted over 1800 years—for "we see not yet all things put under him"—but what is this compared with eternity, and "He shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15; cf. Daniel 6:26).
VI. THE END OF THE CONSPIRATORS FORESHADOWS
1 Kings 1:11 sqq
The Jewish prophet: an example to the Christian pastor.
The dealings of Nathan with David may suggest some thoughts as to
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTER OCCUPIES IN THE NEW DISPENSATION A POSITION SOME, WHAT ANALOGOUS TO THAT OF THE PROPHET IN THE OLD. Prophecy, that is to say, is one of his functions. For prophecy does not, strictly and properly, mean prediction (or foretelling), but preaching (or forthtelling). The prophētēs was the spokesman or interpreter of God. (See Introduction, note.) The "prophesyings" of the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:14) were preachings or expositions; and in this sense the word is used by Lord Bacon, and others. So the prophet was, and the preacher is, an ambassador for God, an expounder of his laws, a herald of his kingdom. The former, therefore, may well serve as a pattern to the latter. Now the dealings of the prophet Nathan with King David were of two kinds:
1. He admonished him in health;
2. He counselled him in sickness.
Hence let us learn that we owe doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness; in other words, "both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole within our cures." (See "The Ordering of Priests," Book of Common Prayer.) The latter are liable to be overlooked. But the prophet further suggests to us
I. Under the first head, observe that,
1. He boldly denounced David's sin (2 Samuel 12:7) at the risk, perhaps, of his life, and fearlessly threatened him with shame (1 Kings 1:11) and sword (1 Kings 1:10).
2. He proclaimed forgiveness on David's repentance (1 Kings 1:13).
3. He ministered comfort in David's sorrow (1 Kings 1:25).
4. He encouraged and advised David in his undertakings
. (A great churchman confessed that he had not served his God as faithfully as he had served his king. Nathan was true to both.)
3. He was disinterested. He asks no favours for himself. It is for the Hebrew commonwealth, for the Jewish Church, that he act and speaks. He does not abuse his position to extort gifts from a dying man. (Compare Savonarola dictating the terms of absolution to Lorenzo de' Medici.)
4. He was discreet. "Wise as serpent, but harmless as dove." He approaches Bathsheba (2 Samuel 7:11), excites her alarm (2 Samuel 7:12), uses her as the most likely agent to prevail with the king, instructs her (2 Samuel 7:13), follows her (2 Samuel 7:22). "The policy of Nathan was of use as well as his prophecy" (Bp. Hall) Thus the prophet teaches the pastor to use all fidelity, to show true loyalty and courtesy, to act purely and unselfishly, to use the means God has put within his reach with consideration and discretion.
The Benedictus of the Old Testament, and the Benedictus of the New (Verse 48; Luke 1:68).
On two memorable occasions this doxology has been found on the lips of the saints. No doubt the formula, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel," was a favourite one with the people of Israel; no doubt the words were often used (cf. Psalms 41:13; Psalms 72:18). But there are two occasions of pre-eminent interest and importance when this thanksgiving broke from joyful lips. Let us consider them.
1. It was used (as we see) by the aged King David on the day that he saw his son Solomon (Peace) a forerunner of the Messiah, seated on the throne of Israel.
2. It was used by the aged priest Zacharias on the day that he saw his son John (Grace), the forerunner of Messiah, brought into the commonwealth of Israel. It is just possible, but hardly probable, that the words, as used by the latter (under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, Luke 1:67) had a reference to their use by the former. But it may be instructive, nevertheless, to compare these two ascriptions of praise, for they are more or less characteristic, the one of the old dispensation, the other of the new. Let us observe,
I. THEIR POINTS OF CONTACT,
II. THEIR POINTS OF CONTRAST.
I. They are alike in three particulars.
1. Each Benedictus was in some sort the "Nunc Dimittis" of an aged saint. Each proceeded from a man "old and stricken in years" (1 Kings 1:1; Luke 1:7); each from a man of fervent piety (1 Kings 11:4; Luke 1:6); each was suggested by the speaker's son rising up to take his place, and to carry on his and God's work.
2. Each Benedictus was connected with a son of David. The first was a grateful acknowledgment of the anointing of a Son of David to be King; the second was in thankful anticipation of the coming of the Son of David to be Prophet, Priest, and King. Note: all the praises of Scripture connect themselves directly or indirectly with Christ.
3. Each Benedictus was elicited by God's gracious fulfilment of His promise. The first commemorated the realization of the promise of a successor made through the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 7:12); the second, the (proximate) fulfilment of the promises of a Saviour, made by "all the holy prophets since the world began" (Luke 1:70), and of which the promise of 2 Samuel 7:1-29; was a foretaste and pledge. Note: in all ages the faithfulness of God has elicited the thankfulness of his people.
II. But let us now consider their points of contrast. These are four in number, and show how the thanksgiving of David was for temporal, and that of Zacharias for spiritual benefits.
1. The Benedictus of David celebrated the ascent of the throne of Israel by his Son; that of Zacharias, the leaving of the throne of Heaven by the Son of God. Solomon was beginning his glory: Jesus had laid His aside. Solomon was going to be ministered unto: Jesus to minister to others.
2. The Benedictus of David commemorated the gift of a son to rule His people: that of Zacharias, the gift of a Saviour to redeem the world (verses 68, 77, 79).
3. The Benedictus of David proclaimed that the succession to the throne was preserved in his house: that of Zacharias, that through the "house of David" a "horn of salvation" was raised up for men. The aged king, doubtless, thought that in Solomon God had "made the horn of David to bud" (Psalms 132:17); but Zacharias celebrated the true fulfilment of that promise—its blossoming into salvation.
4. The Benedictus of David celebrated the reign of a son who should be a man of peace (1 Chronicles 22:9): that of Zacharias, the coming of one who should guide men's "feet into the way of peace" (verse 79). We said each Benedictus was a sort of Nunc Dimittis. That last sentence of David's—"Mine eyes also seeing it"—carry our thoughts to another of the Evangelical Hymns, the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon—"Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." Zacharias was not a greater poet than David. And David, as well as he, spake by the Holy Ghost (2 Samuel 23:2). Yet how much grander, and every way nobler, is the Benedictus of the latter than that of the former; of the New Testament than the Old. It is because the theme is so much higher, and the benefits are so much greater, because "a greater than Solomon is here."
The two triumphal entries.—Twice in the history of Jerusalem has a Son of David ridden through her streets, sitting on ass or mule, amid the shouts and praises of the people. Let us compare the two occasions. They will furnish a further proof and illustration of the typical character of Solomon; a further proof that a "greater than Solomon is here." Observe—
I. THE TRIUMPHAL RIDE THROUGH THE CITY WAS IN EACH CASE AFTER AN ANOINTING.—Solomon had been anointed by prophet and priest: Jesus, the Divine Solomon, by God himself. Solomon's anointing was with holy oil out of the tabernacle (verse 39); that of Jesus with the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38). Solomon was anointed to be king: Jesus to be King, and Priest, and Prophet.
II. EACH RODE THROUGH THE CITY AS KING (verses 34, 35).—"God save King Solomon," cried the populace. "Blessed is the king that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Luke 19:38). In each case the words were true, "Behold thy King cometh" (Matthew 21:5; John 12:15). And
III. EACH RODE AS THE SON OF DAVID (1 Kings 1:43; Matthew 21:9).—Did the populace remember the triumphal progress of Solomon, one thousand years before, through those same streets, as they cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matthew 21:9-15).
IV. EACH RODE AMID THE ACCLAMATIONS OF THE PEOPLE.—Each, that is to say, was acknowledged as king by popular acclaim. In each case, a curious Oriental hyperbole expresses the enthusiastic rejoicing and the deafening cries of the throng. "The earth rent" (1 Kings 1:40). "The stones would immediately cry out" (Luke 19:40; cf. Matthew 21:10). But here the resemblance ends.
Henceforward how great and striking is the contrast.
I. ALL THE GREAT PEOPLE SURROUNDED SOLOMON OUR LORD WAS PRECEDED AND FOLLOWED BY THE POOR. The dignitaries of the realm, both in church and state, prophet and priest, soldier and civilian, all assembled to do Solomon honour. But our Lord had none of these to do Him reverence. "Master, rebuke Thy disciples" (Luke 19:1-48 :89). The pomp and grandeur were all on the side of Solomon.
II. SOLOMON WENT TO SIT ON HIS THRONE JESUS TO SUFFER AND REIGN ON THE CROSS. The former rode to ease and glory and pomp and unparalleled magnificence; the latter to shame and spitting, to denial and death. But, crux scala caeli.
III. SOLOMON RODE TO GLORY: JESUS TO BRING OTHERS TO GLORY. The triumphal entry of Solomon was an ordinary thing. Such royal progresses have often been before and since. But never has the world seen such an entry as that of our Redeemer. He might have reigned as a king, but He chose to suffer as a felon: He might have lived for self, He chose to die for others. Shall we deny Him our hosannas? Shall not earth and heaven ring with His praises?
HOMILIES BY A. ROWLAND
1 Kings 1:5
The sin of ambition.
Ambition is not always wrong. It is a common inspiration; and when the desire for distinction is associated with fitness for it, the call to effort and advance is from God. But for such ambition the world would stagnate. When the schoolboy is working for a prize, when the writer or speaker resolves to be amongst the foremost men of his age, when the man of business presses on towards the front ranks in the commercial world, we see what should be applauded and not condemned, so long as lawful objects are sought by lawful means. Let us, in all our pursuits, remember God's laws for exaltation. Men are to go higher, when they have fulfilled the duties of the lower sphere. They are to rise on performances, and not on discontent. Hence, if ambition be conscientious, it will prompt to the minutely faithful performance of trivial duties. With a tireless hand crooked things will be made straight, and rough places plain, before the glory is revealed. If, however, ambition be not ruled by righteousness, or modified by love, if it is regardless of the rights of others and of the will of God, then it is a sin; the sin which was the herald of disobedience and death, the source of the tyranny and bloodshed which have desolated the world. It was this sin of which Adonijah was guilty when he "exalted himself, saying, I will be king!"
Let us see wherein the sinfulness of his sin lay.
I. THIS AMBITION PROMPTED ADONIJAH TO AN INFRINGEMENT OF THE DIVINE ORDINANCE. It has been said that his act was natural, though foolishly precipitate; for, according to the usual law of primogeniture, he had a right to expect the throne. But the law of primogeniture was never the law of the kingdom of Israel, which in spirit was a theocracy throughout. The invisible King distinctly reserved to him. self the right of appointment (Deuteronomy 17:14, Deuteronomy 17:15). True, seniority was a tacit indication of the Divine will, but this was always overruled by any special revelation of God's choice. He who had chosen David from amongst his brothers, chose Solomon, and there was fitness in the choice; not only because as a man of peace he was qualified to build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:8, 1 Chronicles 22:9), but also because his succession was a pledge to his parents, and to all the people, that after the death of their first child the sin of David and Bathsheba was buried in oblivion (comp. Psalms 51:2, Psalms 51:7, Psalms 51:9, with Isaiah 43:25, etc.). This Divine choice was publicly known. Nathan sided with Solomon not as "the leader of a court cabal," but as the prophet of the Lord; and Adonijah himself was well aware of the election of his brother (1 Kings 2:15). When Adonijah said "I will be king," he deliberately set up his will against God's. A deep significance underlies God's choice of men. He elects according to fitness and fits according to election, so that there is ultimate harmony between circumstances and character. The two sons of Zebedee were taught this. They had as much seeming right to the place of honour which they sought as had Adonijah to the throne. They belonged to "the twelve," were personally beloved of their Lord, and their mother was related to the Virgin Mary, and was of those who ministered to Jesus. But Jesus said, "to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared of my Father." In other words, honours would be given by law and not by favour; not from arbitrary impulse, but from a knowledge of what was right and fitting. Draw lessons of contentment from the assurance that our lot is appointed by God. Show the necessity for our own sakes of submissiveness in prayer, lest God should give us our request and send leanness into our soul.
II. THIS AMBITION WAS A CRAVING FOR OUTWARD HONOUR, AND NOT FOR INWARD WORTH. "He prepared him chariots and horsemen and fifty men to run before him." His ambition was to have these for their own sakes, not to increase his influence for good. Nor was he the last man who cared for glitter and show. The candidate for a competitive examination, who seeks only for honours, and cares nothing for the learning and studious habits which may be acquired, will never be a true student. So with the professional man who works for money only, etc. Honours thus won are unsatisfying and transient. Their worth is fitly represented in the ceremonies observed at the coronation of a Pope. The M. C. holds in one hand a lighted taper, and in the other a reed surmounted by a piece of flax. The flax is ignited and flashes up into light, but in a few moments the flame dies out and the thin ashes fall at the Pontiffs feet, while a sonorous voice chants the words, "Pater sanctus, sic transit gloria mundi." The pagans understood to some extent the lesson we seek to enforce. Their temple of honour had only one entrance, and that was through the temple of virtue. Over the gates of the kingdom of Christ these words are written, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased." In the day when spiritual realities shall be revealed there shall be not the glorification, but the "manifestation of the sons of God," and in the outcome of character inwrought by God's Spirit true and lasting glory shall be found.
III. THIS AMBITION ASSERTED ITSELF WITH A COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.—David still reigned; Solomon was his appointed successor; but Adonijah trampled their rights beneath his feet as he mounted the throne. Selfishness is the chief of those elements in ambition which constitute its sinfulness. Hence we may test ambition, by asking ourselves how we regard our competitors. If a man envies others; if, without compunction, he will crush another to the wall that he may pass him by; if he refuses to help another in sore straits, who is within his reach, on the ground that every man is for himself; then his ambition is a sin. This is more clearly revealed by our Lord than by the old dispensation. He has taught us not only to love our neighbours, but our competitors, and even our foes. He has urged us to "bear one another's burdens," to deny ourselves, and take up our cross to follow Him. The Christian Church has a sacrifice for its basis, and a cross for its banner.
IV. THIS AMBITION WAS NURTURED IN DEFIANCE OF SIGNIFICANT WARNING. Adonijah repeated his brother's offence. He knew how that bright young life had closed in darkness, when Absalom died helpless and unpitied by the hand of Joab. He had often seen his father sitting looking at himself with a far off look in his eyes, as if he still were saying, "O, Absalom, would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" Yet the same sin which had been so signally punished he resolved to commit. History is crowded with illustrations of the fact that men who have lived as Adonijah did have found their honours unsatisfying, and have died in disappointment and despair. Alexander, who conquered the world, died, after setting fire to a city, in a scene of awful debauchery. Hannibal, who at one time could fill three bushels with the gold rings of fallen knights, died by poison, administered by his own hand, unwept in a foreign land. Caesar, who conquered eight hundred cities, fell stabbed to the heart by his friends, in the place of his noblest triumph. Napoleon, the conqueror of Europe, died a heart broken captive. It has been writ large, in letters of blood, so that he who runs may read, "the expectation of the wicked shall be cut off!"
Conclusion.—Will you, with the nobler possibilities set before you in the gospel, whom angel voices are calling to higher things, whose conscience is whispering of duty and love, to whom Christ, the suffering Saviour, the King of Glory, says, "Follow Me!" will you, like Adonijah, turn to the ways of self indulgence and vainglory, to prove as he did that "the wages of sin is death."—A.R.
1 Kings 1:6
Moral ruin in a religious home.
It is a notorious fact that the sons of devout men sometimes prove a curse to their parents, and bring dishonor on the cause of God. When sin entered the world, it caused the earth, on which flowers had aforetime blossomed, to bring forth thorns and briars. This is a picture of a sad truth, known in the first home, and in many another since. Eve rejoiced over the fair child she had "gotten from the Lord," and did not suspect that passions were sleeping within him which would nerve his arm to strike the fatal blow which slew his brother and destroyed his mother's peace. Such sorrow has been experienced in subsequent history. Isaac's heart was rent by the deceit of Jacob and the self will of Esau. Jacob found his own sin repeated against himself, for he who had deceived his father when he was old and blind, suffered an agony of grief for years, because he was falsely told by his sons that Joseph was dead. Probably few have had more domestic sorrow than David. He experienced, in its bitterest form, the grief of a parent who has wished that before his son had brought such dishonour on the home, he had been, in the innocence of his childhood, laid to rest beneath the daisies. Of David's sons, Amnon, the eldest, after committing a hideous sin, had been assassinated by the order of Absalom, his brother. Absalom himself had rebelled against his father, and had been killed by Joab, as he hung helpless in the oak. Chileab (or Daniel) was dead. And now of the fourth son, the eldest surviving, Adonijah, this sad story is told. Adonijah's sin seems so unnatural at first sight that we must try and discover the sources whence so bitter and desolating a stream flowed. We shall find them in THREE ADVERSE INFLUENCES AROUND HIM AT HOME, which are hinted at in our text.
I. ADONIJAH INHERITED A CONSTITUTIONAL TENDENCY AMBITION AND SELF CONCEIT. His association with Absalom is not without significance. The two brothers were alike in their sin and in the tendencies which led to it. These were inherited,
II. ADONIJAH WAS MISLED BY ADULATION. "He was also a very goodly man." Physically, as well as morally, he was a repetition of Absalom. His parents were guilty of partiality. David loved him the more because (like the lost boy) Adonijah was so fair, so noble in mien, so princely in stature. Courtiers and soldiers (who looked, as they did in Saul's time, for a noble-looking king) flattered him. Joab and Abiathar joined the adulators. Intoxicated with vanity, Adonijah set up a royal court, as Absalom had done (see 1 Kings 1:5). Every position in life has its own temptations. The ill-favoured child who is the butt at school and the scapegoat at home is tempted to bitterness and revenge. His character is likely to be unsightly, as a plant would be, which grows in a damp, dark vault. There can belittle beauty if there is no sunshine. On the other hand, if the gift of physical beauty attracts attention and wins admiration, or if conversational power be brilliant, etc; it is a source of peril. Many a one has thus been befooled into sin and misery, or entrapped into an unhappy marriage, and by lifelong sadness paid the penalty of folly, or venturing too far, prompted by ambition, has fallen, like Icarus when his waxen wings melted in the sunshine. When that time of disappointment and disenchantment comes, happy is it when such an one, like the prodigal, comes to himself, and says, "I will arise, and go to my father!"
III. ADONIJAH WAS UNDISCIPLINED AT HOME. "His father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?" This refers not only to the special act of rebellion, but to the tendencies and habits leading up to it, which David had not checked, for fear of vering the high spirited lad. The weak indulgence of children (such as that which Eli exhibited) is the cause of untold misery. Not many parents blazon abroad the story of their domestic grief. Loyal hands draw down the veil over the discord at home, and that agony of prayer which is heard by "the Father who seeth in secret." You do not see the girl who mars the beauty of her early womanhood by a flippant disregard of her parents, and whose own pleasure seems to be the only law of her life. You do not see the child whose hasty passion and uncontrolled temper are the dread of the household; who, by his ebullitions of rage, gets what he wishes, till authority is disregarded and trodden underfoot. You do not see the son who thinks it manly to be callous to a mother's anxiety and a father's counsels, who likes to forget home associations, and is sinking in haunts of evil, where you may weep over him as a wreck. But, though you see them not, they exist. Far otherwise, in some of these sad experiences, it might have been. Suppose there had been firm resolution instead of habitual indulgence; suppose that authority had been asserted and used in days before these evil habits were formed; suppose that, instead of leaving the future to chance, counsels and prayers had moulded character during moulding time—might there not have been joy where now there is grief? Heavy are our responsibilities as parents. Yet splendid are our possibilities! These children who may prove our curses may, with God's blessing on our fidelity, grow up to be wise, pure hearted, courageous men of God, who will sweeten the atmosphere of the home, and purge this nation of its sins, and make the name of "the King of saints" honoured and praised throughout the world! "Train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."—A.R.
1 Kings 1:39-41
The dethronement of the false by the enthronement ofthetrue.
When Bathsheba and Nathan brought David news of Adonijah's revolt, and told him that Joab and Abiathar were at the coronation feast at En-rogel, it is noteworthy that the king made no direct attack on the conspirators. He merely commanded that Solomon should be seated on the royal mule, that he should ride in state to Gihon, and that there Zadok should anoint him king, and proclaim by the sound of trumpet that he was appointed ruler. It was this which paralysed the traitorous assembly. The sound of the trumpet was to their scheme what the blast of the rams' horns was to the walls of Jericho, when they fell in irreparable ruin. David's method was the wisest, the surest; for it not only removed a present evil, but provided a future good. The lesson is obvious, and is susceptible of wide application; that the false is most surely dethroned by the enthronement of the true. The strong man armed keeps his goods in peace, until a stronger than he shall come. (See Luke 11:21, Luke 11:22.) Suggest: applications of this principle.
I. VAIN THOUGHTS ARE TO BE EXPELLED BY THE INCOMING OF WHAT IS WISE AND GOOD. The Psalmist hated "vain thoughts," because he loved God's law (Psalms 119:113). When the heart is empty, swept, and garnished, there is room for worse evils to come (Matthew 12:44). The full mind and heart are safe. Apply to the conquest of wandering thoughts in worship, of vanity in children, etc.
II. SELF WILL IS TO BE CONQUERED BY A NOBLER AND STRONGER WILL. We are early taught this. Every child carries out his own wishes without regard to others, till he recognizes that the parent's will is authoritative. Sooner or later there is struggle, and only when it is decided in one way is there rest. Similarly we have to learn to subordinate our thoughts to God's revelation, our wishes to His will, and this lesson is more painfully learnt as the years pass by and the habit of self rule grows stronger.
III. UNWORTHY AFFECTIONS ARE TO BE OVERCOME BY A WORTHY LOVE. When love is set on the unworthy, force is useless, argument is vain. But if the love is diverted to a nobler object, it naturally disentangles its tendrils from the unworthy. In the highest sphere it may be said of love to our Lord, "that love shall all vain love expel."
IV. ERROR IS TO BE SUBDUED BY TRUTH. The hatred of artisans to machinery when first introduced was not conquered by dragoons, nor by prisons, but by the discovery on their part of the mistake they had ignorantly made. So with all errors. We shall not destroy heathenism by the abuse of the idols, but by the presentation of Christ.
V. CARE IS TO BE EXTIRPATED BY PRAYER. In many hearts care is enthroned. To many a one our Lord might say, "Thou art careful and troubled about many things." We cannot reason away our anxieties, nor force them from our minds, but we can have the rest our children have, who never trouble about the morrow, because they trust in us. It would be vain to say, "Be careful for nothing," unless the apostle could add the alternative, "but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God; and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds."
VI. EVILS REIGNING IN SOCIETY ARE TO BE OVERTHROWN BY WHAT IS NOBLER THAN THEY.—Apply this broadly, e.g; wholesome literature must defeat pernicious. Low amusements, intoxicating drinks, etc; will pass away when there is the establishment of nobler substitutes for these.
The whole subject is summed up in Christ—the true King of humanity, the incarnation of all that is worthy of being loved and enthroned. Draw the analogy between Solomon the anointed king, as he rides on the mule into Jerusalem amid the acclamations of the people, and the entry of our Lord into Jerusalem as described Matthew 21:1-46. If worldliness, or selfishness, or ambition, or lust has been reigning in your heart, the usurped will be dethroned when you welcome Christ as King and say, "O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us, but now we acknowledge Thee to be our Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Descend to Thy Jerusalem, O Lord,
Her faithful children cry with one accord;
Come, ride in triumph on; behold, we lay
Our guilty lusts and proud wills in Thy way.
Thy road is ready, Lord; Thy paths, made straight,
In longing expectation seem to wait
The consecration of Thy beauteous feet,
And, hark, hosannas loud Thy footsteps greet.—A. R.
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