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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 1

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-53



Being 70 years old, David was near to death. He complained of the cold, though well covered with blankets. His servants thought that a young girl, a virgin, would help to warm him. Why could not one of his wives do this? But they found a beautiful young woman, Abishag, and brought her to the king (v.2). She ministered to the king's needs, but he did not cohabit with her (v.4). Men will employ any available means of dealing with problems instead of committing the problem to the Lord.

David's son by Haggith, Adonijah, realizing his father's death was imminent, took advantage of the situation, deciding he was going to be king. He prepared chariots and horsemen and 50 men to run before him (v.5). He was imitating the pride of his brother Absalom, who had tried to dethrone his father David and came to an end in shame and disgrace (2 Samuel 18:1-33). This ought to have been sufficient warning to Adonijah, but caution was overshadowed by his pride.

David had not restrained the pride of his son (v.6), perhaps because of his handsome appearance (v.6), as was true of Absalom also. David loved his sons, but neglected the discipline that love should have exercised, and our sinful flesh will always take advantage of lax government.

Adonijah enlisted Joab, David's army general, to seek his support in making himself king. Joab had not supported Absalom because David was then an energetic king and Joab knew it would not serve his own best interests to desert David. But now that David was dying, Joab's natural thoughts inclined him to follow Adonijah, who was David's oldest living son. Adonijah recognized Joab to be a key man in his gaining his object. Another key man was Abiathar the priest, whom Adonijah also found willing to support him (v.7).

His plans were well thought out, for wanting to include God as one supporting him, he sacrificed sheep, oxen and fatted cattle near to Jerusalem, in the Kidron valley (v.7). Having Abiathar as priest, he could consider these sacrifices appropriate for his purpose. Also, he invited all his brothers, the kings' sons and many servants of David. He marshaled all the support he could possibly find.

However, he did not invite Nathan the prophet, a faithful man of God, nor Benaiah, a fully devoted servant of David, nor other mighty men similar to Benaiah, nor Solomon his brother (v.10). Why did he not invite these? Because he knew he could not count on their support. In fact, it was common knowledge that David had purposed that Solomon was to be king, but Adonijah seemed to think that David was now too old to enforce this choice, and that popular opinion would favor him. Sad blunder!

When Adonijah made the bold move of proclaiming himself as king, Nathan the prophet took a wise course. He advised Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, to immediately inform David that Adonijah had proclaimed himself king, in spite of the fact that David had sworn to Bathsheba that Solomon would be king (vs.11-13). Then, to confirm this to David, Nathan would come in with the same message (v.14), so that the urgency of the situation would be apparent to David.

Bathsheba then went into David's bedroom where Abishag was serving as a nurse to David Bathsheba bowed to him, thus showing the humility of her subjection to the king, though he was her husband. In answer to David's question, she reminded him that he had sworn by the Lord to her that Solomon should succeed him as king, but that Adonijah had taken the place of king without David being aware of it (vs.17-18), that he had sacrificed many animals and invited the king's sons as well as Abiathar and Joab, but had not invited Solomon (v.19).

She told David also that the eyes of all Israel were on David, interested to find what he would do in view of this turn of events. For if he allowed the crowning of Adonijah to stand, then Bathsheba and Solomon would be counted as offenders, for which they would be killed (v.21).

As she was speaking, Nathan also came in, bowing also in subjection before the king and asking him if he had said Adonijah should reign. He repeated what Bathsheba had said and added that the King's son, Abiathar and the commanders of the army were celebrating, saying, "Long live King Adonijah!" "But," said Nathan, "he has not invited me -- one of your servants -- nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon" (vs.24-26).

Notice that it was those who were willing to be at a distance from David who were moved to follow Adonijah. They were not near to David as were Bathsheba and Nathan. What a lesson for every believer! Only in being near to the Lord shall we be preserved from the danger of dishonoring Him by following what seems to be appealing, but is actually disobedience.

Nathan certainly knew that David had nothing to do with the appointing of Adonijah as king, but he asked David nevertheless if he had ordered this matter without informing Nathan (v.27). This was intended by Nathan to stir David to action, and it was effective.



Bathsheba was summoned back to David's presence (v.28), and David swore to her by the Lord who had redeemed him from all his troubles, that, just as he had before sworn by the Lord God of Israel, so he would carry out what he had sworn, and do so "this day" (v.30), making Solomon king in David's place.

David then called for Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah, the trusted military leader (v.32), and gave orders that they were to take the servants of David (the Cherethites and Pelethites) and have Solomon ride on David's mule down to Gihon. This was the same valley in which Adonijah had proclaimed himself king, that is, in the Kidron Valley, but east of Jerusalem rather than south. Thus, Zadok and Nathan were to anoint Solomon king over Israel, with the blowing of the trumpets and the announcement, "Long live King Solomon!"

Adonijah had thought David was too old and depleted in strength that he would have no more power as king, but the God who had brought David through all his adversities was still God, and He could enable David to still use the moral and spiritual power that had before carried him through much opposition. God always backs up what is His own work.

After being anointed, Solomon was to come up and sit on David's throne, for, as David said, he had appointed Solomon as king in his place. Benaiah answered the king with positive approval (v.36) and added the desire that Solomon's kingdom would become greater than David's. In one respect, this proved to be true, for the peace that prevailed in Solomon's day contributed to make his kingdom wonderfully prosperous. However, that prosperity was marred by the personal disobedience of Solomon that led to the breakup of the kingdom after he died (ch.12).

Such a celebration was a startling interruption to the celebration of Adonijah's claim to the throne of Israel. Adonijah and his followers had only finished their meal of celebration when this noise erupted in Jerusalem. Joab asked: "Why is the city in such a noisy uproar?"

At that moment Jonathan the son of Abiathar came in. Though his father was already present, it seems Jonathan did not follow his father's example. Jonathan had shown himself devoted to David at the time of Absalom's revolt (2 Samuel 17:17-21). Adonijah thought Jonathan was bringing good news, but it was not good for Adonijah. Jonathan was just as aware of the coronation of Solomon as he was of what Adonijah was doing, and it seems he was not taking sides with Adonijah (vs.42-43). He told him plainly that "our lord King David has made Solomon king."

Jonathan made no suggestion that Adonijah should resist the crowning of Solomon as king, but rather gave him a full account of what had taken place so that it left no loophole of opportunity for Adonijah to change it. David had sent Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah to military leader, together with the Cherethites and the Pelethites, David's bodyguard, having Solomon ride on the king's mule, and at Gihon they had anointed Solomon king, so that the whole city was rejoicing (vs.44-45).

But Jonathan did not stop there. He said that Solomon sat on the throne of the kingdom and David's servants had gone to bless King David with the desire that God would make the name of Solomon better than the name of David and his throne greater than David's throne. Thus Jonathan added that the king was bowed with thanksgiving before God, blessing Him for having given David a successor to sit on his throne while he was yet alive (vs.46-48). It seems that Jonathan would not have added these things if he had at all favored Adonijah. He spoke as though the matter had been totally settled by David.

Fear took possession of all the guests of Adonijah, and they immediately left the scene of their unholy celebration, each going his own way (v.49). Adonijah, in mortal fear, went and took hold of the horns of the altar, just as ungodly men today try to find refuge in Christian ritual, outwardly acknowledging the sacrifice of Christ as the place of safety, yet with no love for Christ at all (v.50).

Solomon was told that Adonijah had done this with the desire that Solomon would swear to him by God that he would not put him to death. Solomon was not vengeful toward his brother, but he was guarded in the way he answered. If Adonijah would prove himself dependable, he would not die, but if there was subsequent wickedness found in him, he would not be spared (v.52). At Solomon's word, he was brought from the altar and bowed to Solomon, who told him simply, "Go to your house." In other words, he was told to confine himself to private life rather than public.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/1-kings-1.html. 1897-1910.
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