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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 1

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-4



The opening word, “now,” is and, the cop. ו indicating the unbroken connexion of this book with a prior record. Originally the books of “Kings” were a continuation of those of “Samuel,” and constituted one whole narrative, styled respectively the First, Second, Third and Fourth Books of Kings; and the four books bear a common heading in the LXX. and Vulgate.—

1 Kings 1:1. David was old—In his seventieth year (compare 1 Kings 2:11 with 2 Samuel 5:4; 2 Samuel 5:6).

1 Kings 1:2. Get heat—An established medical fact that the aged and sickly may thus derive vital warmth from the young and healthy. Josephus calls these “servants” who advised this course physicians (Ant. vii. 14, § 3).

1 Kings 1:3. Shunemite—Shunem, five miles south of Tabor, on the table-land of Esdraelon.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:1-4


I. Overtakes men in the highest rank. “Now King David was old and stricken in years.” Even the monarch is not exempt from the paralysing influence of life’s winter. David had just escaped from the terrible plague which had smitten fatally 70,000 of his subjects, only to waste away more gradually under the remorseless ravages of time, from which there is no escape but in death. If men escape one peril it is only to meet another. The holiest soul dwells not in an impregnable fort. The aged king had projected a great work—the building of the temple—and made vast preparations for it. He was not permitted to finish it. As the frosts of winter arrest the growth and development of the most magnificent tree, so the progress of life’s bleak winter interrupts the work of the most gifted.

II. Chills the vital sources of the naturally robust. “And they covered him with clothes, and he gat no heat.” As a youth, David was noted for beauty and physical strength—“was ruddy and of a fair countenance.” He scarcely knew the limit of his power. He hesitated not to attack and slay a lion and a bear—was the victor of Goliath—the terror of the Philistines—the hero of a hundred fights. But, as the shadows of the grave creep into the midst of the gayest scenes of our mortal life, so, in the mid-career of those exploits which raised him into fame, there were admonitory blasts of the coming of that winter which must ere long freeze the vital energies at their source. Exposure, hardship, suffering and sorrow, wore down a constitution naturally robust; and now, in his 0th year—a period when many are still vigorous—David was greatly enfeebled. He was also suffering from a wasting disease to which frequent allusion is made in the Psalms. Coverings and garments can only preserve and accumulate the heat actually existing in the body, but cannot supply that which is gone. An affecting picture of the pitiable weakness of a once powerful and victorious monarch! Let not the mighty man glory in his might.

III. Is but temporarily alleviated by the best considered human devices. The cherishing of Abishag was—

1. Advised by the court physicians. An expedient not unusual in similar cases, when internal cordials failed, and with the limited skill of the faculty in the use of warmth-creating potions.

2. Was innocent. Suggested for no other than purely medical reasons. In those days, when polygamy was not forbidden by the Jewish law, and when perverted views as to the relation of the sexes were so prevalent, Abishag was recognized as David’s wife. She ministered to him also as a nurse. Sophocles lauded old age as a deliverance from the tyranny of the passions, as an escape from some furious and savage master.

3. Suspended only for a brief season the inevitable progress of decay. Medical skill is no more efficacious for the monarch than for the humblest subject. David died within the year. A moment comes in the winter of life when the warm pulse is stilled, and the once stalwart frame is locked in the icy embrace of death.

Verses 5-10


1 Kings 1:5. Adonijah, son of Haggith—No record of origin or rank of Haggith, therefore probably without any family distinction. Adonijah was David’s fourth son, and the eldest now alive. Exalted himself—הִתְנַשֵּׂאֹ (cf. Proverbs 30:32); took advantage of his father’s feebleness to claim the throne. But God was king in Israel, and he retained the unchallengeable right of selecting the occupant of the throne (Deuteronomy 17:14).

1 Kings 1:6. He also was a very goodly man—This would give him acceptance with the nation (1 Samuel 9:2).

1 Kings 1:7. Conferred with Joab, commander-in-chief of the army, through whom Adonijah hoped to win military support, and Abiathar, the High-priest, through whom he sought sacerdotal sanction and help; and he gained it, עזַרַאֹהַר “to help one so that men immediately follow him” (Keil).

1 Kings 1:9. Slew sheep and oxen, &c.—This usurpation of the throne inaugurated by a sacrificial feast. En-rogel, the well or source of the Rogel; south-east of Jerusalem in βασιλικῷ παραδείσῳ (Josephus).

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:5-10


I. Was the outcome of a spirit of arrogance and vanity (1 Kings 1:5). Solomon had been designated by both Jehovah and David as successor to the throne, and this had been publicly declared. But Adonijah, presuming upon his seniority, and puffed up with pride, insolently strove to prevent by force the accomplishment of what he knew to be the Divine arrangement. “Vain men, whilst, like proud and yet brittle clay, they will be knocking their sides against the solid and eternal decree of God, break themselves in pieces.”—Trapp. Like his brother Absalom, his prototype in rebellion, Adonijah assumed all the external show of royalty—had a great retinue of chariots and horsemen, both for state and protection, to wait upon and fight for him. The glitter of outward display always attracts the multitude. There is no limit to the pride and extravagance of a rebel. Absalom-like, ambition rideth without reins.

II. Aggravated as committed against an indulgent and aged parent (1 Kings 1:6). Adonijah took advantage of his father’s growing infirmities to gratify his sinful ambition. Had never known the wholesome discipline of parental restraint. “The indulgence of parents at last pays them home in crosses.” Reminds us of Prince Henry, in Shakespeare’s Henry IV., part ii., scene

5. It added not a little to the grief of the dying king that the trumpet of rebellion should be sounded in his ears by the son whom he had loved “not wisely, but too well.”

III. Succeeded in corrupting men of the highest reputation (1 Kings 1:7). Joab, as commander-in-chief, had formerly done David noble service in most difficult and troublous times. He had incurred the displeasure of the king by his unwarrantable murder of Abner and Amasa; and, probably, he disliked the character of Solomon as a man of peace. For the history of Joab see 2 Samuel 2:13-32; 2 Samuel 3:22-31; 2 Samuel 10:7-14, &c. The defection of Abiathar, the high priest, was more surprising. He was son of that Ahimelech who suffered death in David’s cause, and the only one of his sons who escaped the massacre by Doeg. David seems to have felt towards him a special tenderness. Hitherto they had been the firmest friends. Abiathar was with David through all his wanderings when he fled from Saul—served him as priest in Hebron—accompanied him out of Jerusalem when Absalom rebelled—was one of his chief counsellors. The addition of these two representatives of the church and camp mightily strengthened the cause of Adonijah, and was significant of the charm of his personal presence, and bland, insinuating address. “Outward happiness and friendship are not known till our last act. In the impotency of either our revenge or recompense it will easily appear who loved us for ourselves, who for their own ends.”

IV. Stimulated and bribed by excessive festivity (1 Kings 1:9). Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, and he is not the only one whose appetite has proved stronger than his conscience. Sensual feasting is often the precursor of thoughtless, perilous conduct. The judgment is unhinged, the heart inflamed with a fictitious bravery. Many commit themselves to measures which in calmer moments they regret. Such as serve their own belly, and will be in the interest of those that will feast them, what side soever they are of, are an easy prey to seducers (Romans 16:11).—Matt. Henry. If the oxen were offered in sacrifice, as some think, it only added to the audacity and impiety of the proceeding. Such a mockery of worship is hateful to God, and can end only in disaster to the promoters. The triumph of the wicked is short (Job 20:5)

V. Powerless to vitiate the integrity of the faithful (1 Kings 1:8; 1 Kings 1:10). Zadok performed the offices of chief priest at the tabernacle of witness at Gibeon, while Abiathar was the real high priest, and officiated at the sanctuary containing the ark of the covenant in Zion. Benaiah was chief of David’s bodyguard (2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23). Nathan, the prophet, might be counted among Solomon’s staunch friends. Had given the infant prince the name of Jedidiah, “darling of Jehovah,” and was probably entrusted with his education. As representative of the Divine aspect of the arrangement, and privy to all David’s plans, he fully approved the order of succession which the king was known to intend. Shimci and Rei are supposed to be David’s two brothers Shimma and Raddai. The mighty men were the company of 600 originally formed during David’s early wanderings (1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 27:2), and afterwards maintained as the most essential element of his standing army (2 Samuel 23:8-39; 1 Chronicles 11:9-47).—Speaker’s Comm. Neither these worthies nor Solomon were invited to the feast. It would only have added insult to the wrong. High integrity of character lifts man above many solicitations to evil. Tacitus observed that the statues of Brutus and Cassius were the more glorious and illustrious because they were not brought out with other images in a solemn procession at the funeral of Germanieus. Cato said he would rather men should question why he had no statue or monument erected to him, than why he had. By not inviting Solomon, Adonijah betrayed his plans, and himself gave the occasion for their frustration. The policy of the wicked is short-sighted, and often helps the cause it seeks to hinder (Psalms 69:23; Romans 11:9).


1. Pride is a fruitful source of rebellion.

2. Rebels do not sufficiently estimate the power of the principles they oppose.

3. Rebellion is reckless in its movements.

4. Rebellion conceived in arrogance is doomed to a humiliating defeat.


We are taught here that much of the evil that Adonijah did had its root in his early bad training. David, though a good man and a great king, sadly erred in his treatment of his children. What a sad glimpse do we get here of his domestic life! What is written is for our admonition. Learn—

I. That remonstrance with evil doers is an imperative duty. “Why hast thou done so?” Thus should he have spoken. “His father.” None able to speak with such authority and tenderness. So others, according to their place and relationships. Hear God’s call to arms: “Who will rise up for me against the evil doers?”

II. That remonstrance with evil doers is a very difficult duty. “Displeased.” Pride hurt; carnal security disturbed; conscience roused to give pain; danger of speaking harshly; of speaking the truth in wrath more than in love. Still must do what is right. Better offend men than God; better speak, than by silence imperil souls. Besides, if you act in time yon may gain your brother.

III. That remonstrance with evil doers is a much neglected duty. Here a father, and that father David, is charged with failure. Who, then, is safe? The very fact that the duty is so difficult and delicate makes many shrink from it. They will not give pain. They fear the consequences of rebuke and discipline. But though the neglect of this duty is so common this does not make the guilt the less. It is a sin against God, and a crime against your brother. Take heed; be warned by many fearful examples. Innocence is better than repentance. Better far to “displease” your children now by kind and righteous correction, than to let them go on in sin without check, and, in view of their sad fate and terrible upbraidings, to cry, “Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O Lord!” Besides, how much higher a place will the father hold who rules as a king, like Abraham (Genesis 18:19), than the man who weakly abuses his trust like Eli (1 Samuel 3:13).—Homilist.


1 Kings 1:1-4. Weakness and infirmity in old age are—

1. The universal lot to which we must all consider ourselves appointed (Psalms 90:10).

2. Should loosen the bands which hold us to the temporal and perishable, and ripen us for eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Old and sick people should, and it is expected of them as a work well pleasing to God, that they bear this with a willing heart, with patience, self-denial, and sacrificing love.—Lange.

1 Kings 1:5. Adonijah’s attempt to gain the crown.

1. The ground upon which it rests.

1. Upon self-assertion, pride, lust of power; but God resisteth the proud, and a haughty spirit goeth before a fall.

2. Upon outward qualities, age, and beautiful person; but 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalms 147:10; Psalms 11:2. The means which he employed.

1. He seeks to impose upon the people by chariots and horsemen; but Psalms 20:8.

2. He conspires with false and faithless men, but they forsake him in the hour of danger (1 Kings 1:49; Psalms 101:6-7).

3. He prepares, for appearance sake, a religious festival; but Proverbs 15:8.

The effort after high things (Romans 12:16). Now many a person thinks: I will become a great personage, a man of authority and influence, and then scruples at nothing to attain his goal. But that which is written in 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 applies to the individual as well as to entire classes.—Lange.

1 Kings 1:6. The inevitable retribution of parental indulgence. In its effect—

1. Upon character, engendering—

1. Vanity, conscious of personal beauty, fond of display.
2. Pride “exalted himself.”
3. Recklessness. (a). Disrespect of a parent’s love. (b). Indifference to a parent’s sufferings. 2 Upon conduct. Seen—

1. In deliberate opposition to the Divine intentions.
2. Defiance of parental authority.
3. Usurpation of parental rights.
4. Dissension in the household.
5. Abuse of property.

I. His father made a fondling of Adonijah. II. He, in return, made a fool of his father.—M. Henry.

The father who allows his son to go on in his pride and in worldly or sinful conduct, and shuts his eyes, not to trouble him, must expect that his son will trouble him and embitter the evening of his life. The fond parent is generally punished in the ingratitude and opposition of those very children whom he has most indulged, for they cannot be influenced by any sense of obligation or duty who have been accustomed to be gratified in every wish of their hearts (Proverbs 29:17).

1 Kings 1:7. The instability of human friendship.

1. Begins in misunderstandings, and is fostered by imaginary wrongs.
2. Characterized by ingratitude to our greatest benefactors.
3. Culminates in bitter hostility and revenge.
4. Disastrous in proportion to the intimacy formerly enjoyed.

—Wickedness sometimes unites strange elements.

1. Knows where to select its accomplices—among the ambitious, the disaffected, the wavering.
2. Combines its votaries in sympathy, aim, mode of operation, and vengeance, against a common foe.
3. Formidable and dangerous when espoused by men of high repute.

—High personages always find people for the execution of their sinful plans, who, from subserviency or desire of reward, from ambition or revenge, will act as counsellors and agents; but they have their reward, and for the most part end with terror (Proverbs 19:21).

1 Kings 1:8. The true value of human friendship tested in trouble. An incorruptible fidelity—

1. Sinks selfish considerations in promoting the common weal.
2. Soothes the alarm and anxieties of the principal sufferer.
3. Is vigilant and active in counteracting the plots of evil workers.
4. Is a powerful incentive and support in doing the right.

With those who are meditating treason and destruction we should never make common cause (Proverbs 24:21-22).

1 Kings 1:9. Sensual indulgence.

1. Unfits the mind to estimate the relative value of things.
2. A fruitful source of social and moral corruption.
3. Encourages promiscuous association with questionable characters.
4. Affords a coveted opportunity to artful conspirators.
5. Instigates to all kinds of violence.

—He who gives the crowd wherewith to eat and to drink, who prepares for them festivities and pleasures, makes himself popular and beloved for the moment; but all who allow themselves to be gained in such way, to-day shout Hosanna! and to-morrow, Crucify!—Lange.

1 Kings 1:10. A good character.

1. Places a man beyond the suspicion of treachery.
2. Is honoured, while it is feared and envied, by the base.
3. Saves man from many temptations to evil.

Verses 11-14


1 Kings 1:12. Save thine own life, &c.; for had the scheme of Adonijah succeeded, all rivals to the throne would have been slain.

1 Kings 1:13. Assuredly Solomon, &c.—The particle כִּי scarcely allows of so forcible a rendering; saying, That Solomon shall reign.

1 Kings 1:14. Confirm thy words: דּנָרָוִךְ מִלֵּאתִי אֶת—I will make full thy words—a phrase used for the fulfilment of divine utterances (chapters 1 Kings 2:27, 1 Kings 8:15; 1 Kings 8:24).

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:11-14


I. Is prompted by an unselfish concern to carry out the Divine will.

1. The Divine will is the first and highest consideration with a true prophet. Nathan well knew it was the Divine purpose that Solomon should reign. Doubtless it was he who revealed to David the promise of Jehovah to this effect (1 Chronicles 22:8-9). Without blindly and inactively resting on the issue of the Divine decree, he saw the wisdom and importance of using all lawful means to disconcert the wicked attempt to frustrate it. He was not influenced by a priestly officiousness and love of political intrigue, but by the supreme and jealous anxiety to fulfil the will of God. “When crowns were disposed of by immediate direction from Heaven, no marvel that prophets were so much interested and employed in that matter; but now that common Providence rules the affairs of the kingdom of men (Daniel 4:32) the subordinate agency must be left to common persons. Let not prophets intermeddle in them, but keep to the affairs of the kingdom of God among men.” Nathan was indifferent to the personal risk he run had his counsel been rejected and Adonijah allowed to become king. In all things, spiritual and temporal, the will of God is the highest reason. It is the safest motive to action.

2. The conduct of Nathan was in harmony with a genuine friendship. The faithfulness of the prophet in reproving David’s sin not only produced repentance, but established a bond of friendship which lasted for the remainder of the monarch’s life. The training of Solomon was entrusted to Nathan, and the amiable qualities and superior abilities of the youthful prince won the prophet’s love. The services of a true friend may be more freely and cheerfully rendered when they accord with the Divine intentions. It is no act of friendliness to tender advice which involves in its observance the displeasure of God. Advice should be given with gentleness and wisdom: it should fall as the dew, not overwhelm as the torrent.

II. Highly valuable in great emergencies. A grave crisis had come in the history of the kingdom. It needed the utmost caution and promptitude in dealing with it. Important interests were threatened.

1. A crown was at stake (1 Kings 1:11). Adonijah had usurped the position to which his brother was formally designated. There was danger the sceptre should not pass into the hands of Solomon. The crown of life, more lustrous far than the costliest earthly diadem, is reserved for the faithful. That no man take our crown, we must give heed to Divine counsel.

2. Life was at stake (1 Kings 1:12). It was the sanguinary custom among the ancient monarchies of the East, in the event of a forcible seizure of the throne, to murder the dethroned ruler, or the opposing pretenders to the crown, and all their nearest relatives (Judges 9:5; 1 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 10:6; 2 Kings 10:13; ib. 1 Kings 11:1). If Adonijah succeeded, Bathsheba, Solomon, and, probably, Nathan, must perish. We are in danger of eternal death. It is the privileged function of God’s messengers, while warning against threatened death, to offer life. Happy are they who are wise to receive instruction! To keep sound wisdom and discretion is life to the soul and grace to the neck (Proverbs 3:21-22).

3. The wish of the dying king was disregarded. That Adonijah knew the intention of David was evident by his refusing to summon Solomon, and by conducting the conspiracy so secretly that the aged king was ignorant of it. Filial duty dictates a reverential regard to the last wishes of a dying parent. Rebellion outrages all family relationships, and ignores the dearest parental wishes.

4. The future prestige of the empire was imperilled. Adonijah was unfit to govern. Had he reached the throne, his career must have been one of disaster. There would have been no Solomon-era; and the peace, the commercial affluence, the luxurious display, the intellectual glory, and theocratic splendour that characterised the brilliant reign of the wise and gifted king, would have been, if not unknown, indefinitely postponed. A prophet and a woman—both contemptuously overlooked by the proud conspirators—were the instruments of defeating an ill-starred enterprise. The timely and vigorous action of a single mind has often decided the destiny of a nation.

III. Suggests the most forcible reasons for right action (1 Kings 1:13).

1. The king is informed that his own arrangement concerning the regal succession is violently disturbed. “Why, then, doth Adonijah reign?” It was a terrible blow to David to be told that his son—a son so fondly loved and excessively indulged—was engaged in a rebellious attempt to defeat his father’s declared intention. It would affect David the more that his informant was Bathsheba, a woman he tenderly loved, and mother of the son who would be most injured if the usurper triumphed. Nothing will sooner rouse a man into action than the forcible and wilful interference with his own long-cherished and thoughtfully formed plans.

2. The king is reminded of his oath. “Didst not thou swear?” It is not known when David made the promise on oath to Bathsheba that her son should be king. It was evidently after the revelation made to him by Jehovah, recorded in 2 Samuel 7:0. The reference to his oath, uttered with the utmost solemnity and awe, would he irresistible. The God-fearing king would be incited to adopt prompt and active measures for ensuring the accomplishment of his purpose. The man who fears God must ever be most solicitous to fulfil the promise made by his solemn invocation of the Divine Name.

IV. Is supplemented and confirmed by active, personal endeavours (1 Kings 1:14). Many are ready to tender advice when it does not involve personal effort and inconvenience. Advice thus cheaply given is generally estimated at the same value. The true friend, not content with simply giving the wisest counsel, is prepared to substantiate his words with earnest, diligent, and self-sacrificing personal endeavours. The advice of such a friend is beyond all price. It should be gratefully obeyed.


1. The minister of God should be able to give sound counsel.

2. The best counsel is that which is most in harmony with the will of God.

3. The counsel of the wise and good should be carefully pondered.

4. Good counsel, when promptly acted upon, is followed with beneficial results.


1 Kings 1:11. The watchfulness of the faithful minister

1. Enables him to discern the dangers which threaten the interests of God’s kingdom.
2. To discover the secret plots of evil workers.
3. To afford seasonable and important counsel in grave emergencies.
4. To lend all the force of his personal efforts in defeating the designs of the wicked.
5. To brave all the perils of fidelity.

Nathan, the type of a true prophet. Seen—

1. In his watchfulness and fidelity (Ezekiel 33:7). He is not silent when it was his duty to open his mouth (Isaiah 56:10).

2. In his wisdom and gentleness (Matthew 10:16).

3. In his earnestness and courage (Matthew 10:28). How grand is this Nathan! How reproving to all who sleep when they should be wakeful, who are dumb when they should counsel, who flatter when they should warn! It is a solemn duty not to conceal what can prove an injury and evil to an individual or to a community, but to expose it at the right time and in the right place, so that the injury may be averted.—Lange.

1 Kings 1:12. The great burden of the Gospel message. The mission of the Gospel is

1. To counsel the ignorant.
2. To warn the indifferent.
3. To offer life to the spiritually dead.
4. To reveal the endless duration and consummate felicity of the life enjoyed by the believer.
5. To set forth the character and redeeming work of the great Life-Giver.

—What Nathan here says to Bathsheba, Christ and His Apostles, in an infinitely higher sense, say to us all, especially every father and every mother. How many take kindly the good advice of a wise man, for themselves and for their children, in their earthly and outward affairs, but who wish to hear nothing of the best advice which shall bring blessedness to their souls!

1 Kings 1:14. The purity of the counsel is confirmed by the accompanying result. There are some seeming contradictions in Scripture; and though they seem to be as the accusers of Christ, never a one speaking like the other, yet, if we understand, we shall find them speaking like Nathan and Bathsheba, both speaking the same things.—Trapp.

Verses 15-21


1 Kings 1:16. Bowed and did obeisance—The latter word denoting the prostrate attitude customary in the East before kings.

1 Kings 1:21. Shall be counted offenders—Counted is not in the Hebrew, though implied in the connexion; they will be חַטָּאִים—i.e., guilty of a capital crime, treated as traitors deserving death.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:15-21


I. Is profoundly deferential. Bathsheba hesitates not to venture at once into the inner chamber of the aged and dying king. Her maternal instincts and concern for her son’s future render her courageous. Her presence pleaded eloquently, but her speech, tremulous with the conflicting emotions of the wife and mother, was overwhelming. “Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance unto the king” (1 Kings 1:16). She paid every respect due to David as her prince and husband. If we would find favour with superiors, we must show them becoming respect. We should cherish a dutiful regard towards those from whom we expect kindness. Nothing is ever lost by sincere politeness. It evidences a refined and gentle spirit. It propitiates the most morose, and often wins a favourable reception in the most difficult suit. It succeeds where an unmannerly brusqueness fails. It is irresistible in a true woman. Life is not so short but there is always time enough for courtesy.

II. Urges the religious obligation of an oath. 1 Kings 1:17, “Thou swarest by the Lord thy God.” A conscientious man is morally bound by his promised word; but an oath is inviolable. We are engaged if we have promised; if we have sworn, we are bound. Neither heaven nor earth has any gyves for that man who can recklessly shake off the fetters of an oath. Such a man has no regard for that God whose awful name he dare invoke to a falsehood. He who cares not for God will not care for man. It is a powerful leverage to move a man to right action when we can remind him of his solemnly pledged word. An oath should be religiously remembered and conscientiously fulfilled. It is a duty we owe to both God and man. Even the highest in authority should be faithfully reminded of this duty, and warned as to the consequences of a careless repudiation of trust. A faithful friend in a palace is rare.

III. Graphically depicts the distraction of rebellion (1 Kings 1:18-19).

1. The throne is seized by an ungrateful son. “Adonijah reigneth.” Without waiting for the death of his father, or seeking his sanction, and even without his knowledge, the presumptuous son assumes all the authority and external display of royalty. Had his right to the succession been ever so good, such conduct was undutiful and treasonable. An unprincipled ambition corrupts natural affection: it acknowledges obedience to none but its own imperious will.

2. Excessive festivity prevails. Indulgence is often provocative of vain boasting, extravagant designs, and riotous conduct. It leads to cruelty and disaster.

3. The members of the royal family and the true friends of the aged king are seduced from their allegiance. There was disorder in the household. The children of David repaid his paternal kindness with unfaithfulness and wild rebellion. The ingratitude of children, for whom so much has been sacrificed and endured, is one of the sharpest pangs of a disappointed parent’s heart. Polygamy, in however limited a degree, is a prolific source of domestic trouble. Any violation of the moral order carries with it its own Nemesis. The infidelity of Abiathar and Joab—men with whom he had repeatedly trusted his life—was a severe blow to David. Little does the renegade friend think of the anguish caused by his treachery. Confidence in human nature is shattered.

4. The king-designate is ignored. “But Solomon thy servant”—not thy sovereign, as Adonijah affects to be—“hath he not called.” He is evidently regarded as a rival, and every attempt is made to prevent his gaining the throne. It is not an oversight, but a contempt of the act of settlement, which had been made sufficiently public, that Solomon is neglected. All the fondly cherished plans of David are threatened with a rude and ignominious overthrow. The scene of confusion created by the rebels, thus graphically presented, was calculated to deeply affect the dying monarch—as the husband, the father, and the king.

IV. Earnestly advocates the pressing claims of the nation (1 Kings 1:20). The rebellion had not gone so far as that of Absalom’s in stealing away the hearts of the people. There was a grave pause in the kingdom. The people hesitated what to do, until the royal intention was publicly proclaimed. David was too firmly seated in the affections of his subjects to allow them to act without the knowledge of his declared will. This ominous silence of the national voice was Nathan’s opportunity and Adonijah’s doom. In troublous times the nation looks to the king. In him is vested supreme authority. He is the guide and defender of the empire. The interests of all are in his keeping; and his power should ever be exercised on the side of justice, equity, and peace. A divine sentence is in the lips of the king. “That thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne.” This some princes love not to do—Queen Elizabeth, for instance. A false Jesuit wrote that she wished she might, after her death, hang awhile in the air, to see what scuffling there would be for her kingdom. Men should use whatever power or influence they possess, not in compassing their own selfish ends, but in advancing the kingdom of the Messiah.

V. Is full of genuine pathos.

1. A mournful contingency is referred to (1 Kings 1:21). “When my Lord shall sleep with his fathers.” Here the heart of the wife speaks out. It was evident David’s end was near; and Bathsheba could not contemplate that event without deep emotion. Death is compared to a sleep. Beautiful simile! Such a view robs death of its terror, and soothes the sorrow of the bereaved. Death is but the gentle sinking of the tired and spent body into the lap of rest. Silently it reposes among the hallowed dust of bye-gone generations, until the last great trumpet shall wake it into newness of life.

2. A tender allusion is made to threatened personal peril. “I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.” Here the heart of the mother speaks out. It is suggested by some commentators that, probably, Adonijah had spoken slightingly of Bathsheba as an adultress and of Solomon as illegitimate, and, therefore, not fit to be king. The reputation of mother and son was in danger, and must be protected. Not only so: if Adonijah succeeded, they would both be reckoned traitors and public enemies, and their lives sacrificed. Adonijah would not have dealt so mercifully with Solomon as Solomon did with him. He who usurps a throne will stop at no cruelty to secure himself in it. If anything will rouse the soul into earnest concern, it is the peril to which those dear to it are exposed.


1. The mother exerts a powerful influence on the destiny of the family.

2. It is an unspeakable advantage for a youthful prince to have a wise and capable mother.

3. The eloquence of a mother’s heart is irresistible.


1 Kings 1:15-21. Bathsheba before the king. She reminds him of his duty—

1. Towards God, before whom he had sworn. What one has vowed before God, according to God’s will, one must hold to under all circumstances; of this one must remind kings and princes.
2. Towards the people, whose well-being and whose woe were in his keeping. The great responsibility of him towards whom all eyes are directed.
3. Towards the wife and son, whose happiness and life were at stake. Woe to the father through whose guilt wife and children, after his death, fall into contempt and wretchedness.—Lange.

1 Kings 1:16. “What wouldest thou?” A question the King of Heaven is ever asking—

1. The perplexed enquirer.
2. The penitent suppliant.
3. The complaining sufferer.
4. The solitary mourner.
5. The ambitious self-seeker.

1 Kings 1:18. “Thou knowest it not. The isolation of the aged and infirm

1. Presents a melancholy contrast to the joyous excitement of an active life.
2. Renders them oblivious of the most important events of the outside world.
3. Ignorant of the calamities that threaten their dearest interests.
4. Familiarizes their minds with suffering and approaching death.
5. Calls for the kindly attention and sympathy of loving hearts.

1 Kings 1:20. The grave responsibilities of the monarch. 1. All eyes are turned to him in times of national distress.

2. He is expected to promptly and effectually crush rebellion.
3. The best interests of his subjects should be his chief concern.
4. He should make the wisest arrangements for the future peace and stability of the kingdom.
5. He is accountable to God, from whom he derives his authority.

Verses 22-31


1 Kings 1:25. God save King Adonijah: i.e., Let the king live; literally, Live the king! the usual Israelitish acclamation (1 Kings 1:34-39; 1 Samuel 10:24, &c.).

1 Kings 1:31. Let my lord, King David, live for ever—A form of blessing, used by the Hebrews only on specially solemn occasions, but was a common form amongst the Persians (Daniel 3:9; Daniel 5:10; Daniel 6:22; Nehemiah 2:3).

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:22-31


Bathsheba retires, and Nathan is announced. No time should be lost in dealing with evil. Delay is all in favour of the enemy. Wickedness hardens in its effrontery the longer it is unchecked. Observe:—

I. That the faithful minister is painfully conscious of wrong done to others. His character supposes familiarity with the highest and purest moral truths. His communion with God gives tone and balance to his personal experience of those truths. His training renders him highly susceptible to every variation from the right. His office, as a divinely-appointed watchman, implies his constant alertness in detecting the presence and operation of evil. As the magnet trembles under the influence of some atmospheric disturbance, so the heart of the faithful minister is sensitively alive to the violence of the wicked. The havoc wrought by sin is the source of bitterest sorrow to the good. He feels the injury done to others more than the injury done to himself.

II. That the faithful minister is sincerely solicitous to rectify the wrong. Without delay, Nathan set all the forces within his reach in motion to counteract the wicked designs of the rebels. When we are conscious of a flagrant wrong, fidelity requires that we protest against it, and use all lawful and wise endeavours to put it away. Man never feels so weak as when he comes into active opposition with the colossal powers of evil. But for Divine encouragement, he would give up the contest in despair. When his best efforts are powerless to conquer the obstinacy of the wicked, like the tender-hearted prophet, he exclaims, “My soul shall weep in secret places for you” (Jeremiah 13:17). What an unfathomable depth of disappointment and regret is sounded in the heartrending wail of the ever-pitying Jehovah—“O! that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments!” Even the Deity, after exhausting, in vain, all legitimate attempts to win man back to the right, has nothing left but tears! Christ weeping over Jerusalem.

III. That the faithful minister knows how to influence the highest authority in favour of the right. While the impression made by the passionate pleading of Bathsheba was fresh in the mind of the king, Nathan appeared, and, with the utmost respect, but in a form that implied a slight reproof, expostulated with him. The wood that a single wedge will not rive is readily split asunder by a double one. The prophet rehearsed, for the most part, the arguments used by the mother; but, as befitting his character, he used them in such a way as was calculated to powerfully move the heart of the king.

1. He expostulated with David as a man of consistency. “Hast thou said Adonijah shall reign?” (1 Kings 1:24). This was contrary to what the king had said before. He had solemnly declared that Solomon should be king; and this was publicly known. This appeal to his consistency would rouse the personal interest of the king. The slightest suspicion of inconsistency alarms the conscientious soul. It is sometimes needful to stir up and encourage to duty those who mean well, but are enfeebled by infirmity.

2. He expostulated with David as a considerate and popular prince. Rebellion had broken out, and had reached its highest point of aggravation. The revellers were shouting, “God save king Adonijah!” Beloved as David was by the nation, the rebels had despised his authority, challenged his power, abused his kindness, insulted his friends, and ignored his son (1 Kings 1:25-26). All this would tend to fire the indignation of the king.

3. He expostulated with David as a man of candour (1 Kings 1:27). Could it be that the king had changed his mind as to the succession, and kept his truest friend and wisest adviser in ignorance? The man who represented the Divine aspect of the arrangement was surely the first who had a right to know. Had the king been practising secresy and deception? This was unlike David. Few men can bear their candour called in question. The fuse ignited the train. The king was thoroughly roused. Feeble and dying as he was, something of the vigour of his best days re-animated his soul. As the saint, the husband, the father, the prince, he was prepared to enforce his promised word. The mightiest appeal at the Mercy Seat is that which is based upon the Divine Word.

IV. That the expostulation of a faithful minister was in this instance crowned with success.

1. The king resolved to take immediate action to maintain the right. “Even so will I certainly do this day” (1 Kings 1:30). Good men will do their duty, if it is faithfully and judiciously pressed upon them. David’s love towards his usurping son gave place to indignation. He now understands the serious state of affairs, and the necessity for prompt measures being taken. The clearness and vigour with which the dying king gave instructions indicate that, notwithstanding the feeble state of his body, his intellectual powers were unimpaired. Age ripens knowledge into wisdom. Plato wrote at eighty years of age, Isocrates at ninety-five, and some of the ablest men who have reached a good old age have grieved that they must die when they began to be wise. Without immediately revealing his purpose to the prophet, David summons Bathsheba into his presence (1 Kings 1:28). He still retained the power of the king, and of acting independently. The woman who would be so grievously wronged must be assured that justice should be done.

2. The king renews his oath with increased solemnity (1 Kings 1:29-30). He not only repeats his former oath, but, with deepest emotion, ratifies it with another. An oath is so sacred that its obligation cannot be broken; and so solemn that the impression ought never to be forgotten. David acknowledges the goodness of God in bringing him safely through the difficulties and hardships of life. As God had been true to him, so would he remain true to the end. Dying saints should bear witness of the faithfulness of God towards them. What a lesson was this to his son and successor to trust in God in every time of distress that might come upon him! Bathsheba gratefully acknowledges the decision of the king—“Let my lord, king David, live for ever” (1 Kings 1:31). Would that it had pleased God that this change had never been necessary, and that thou mightest have lived and reigned perpetually! We should ever desire the prolonging of useful lives, however much it may appear against our own advantage. David acted in this instance, not merely in compliance with the supplication of a wife, or from a dislike to Adonijah, but from a religious motive. He was firmly persuaded that Solomon was appointed by Jehovah to be his successor; and that through him, as well his own house as the house of Jehovah should be built up. This had been promised, and David witnessed its fulfilment (2 Samuel 7:11-13; comp. Hebrews 11:32-33).


1. That the faithful minister should not tolerate the wrong.

2. That the faithful minister will adopt the wisest and most influential method in persuading men to the right.

3. That when the expostulations of the faithful minister are regarded, blessed results follow.

4. That the minister must be faithful in expostulation, irrespective of result.


1 Kings 1:22-23. To have a Nathan by one’s side, who refers at the right time and in the right way to the will of God, is the choicest blessing for a prince. “He who fears God lays hold of such a friend” (Eccles. 6:16). The ministers of God and the preachers of His word should not, indeed, mingle in worldly business and political affairs; but their calling always requires them to testify against uproar and sedition, for he who resisteth the powers resisteth the ordinance of God (Romans 13:2). With questions which lead to a knowledge of self, he who has the care of souls often accomplishes more, than by direct reproaches and disciplinary speeches.

1 Kings 1:28-30. David’s decision.

1. His oath is an evidence of his firm faith in the divine promise.

2. His command is a living proof of the truth of the Word (Isaiah 40:31, and Psalms 92:15). Happy for the king who, under all circumstances, observes what he has promised. Fidelity in high places meets with fidelity from those below.—Lange.

1 Kings 1:29. Jehovah the Deliverer of His people.

1. That the people of God are not exempt from the calamities of life. They may be prostrated by disease, perplexed with commercial reverses, disappointed by false friends, distressed with domestic affliction, overwhelmed with bereavement, puzzled with the inexplicable mysteries of the Divine procedure.

2. That out of every calamity Jehovah graciously delivers His people. This He does either—

1. By removing the cause of the calamity; or, 2, by abating its force; or, 3, by imparting strength to endure, and finally to conquer.
3. That the constancy of Jehovah in delivering His people should ever be gratefully acknowledged.

1. Faith is confirmed.
2. Character moulded by the discipline of trouble.
3. Sympathy and fidelity towards others encouraged.
4. Praise should be continually offered.

1 Kings 1:30. “Even so will I certainly do this day.” Promptitude in Christian Service

1. Is impelled by a profound conviction of the superlative righteousness of the work to be done.
2. Necessary to counteract the stratagems of the wicked.
3. Demanded by the pressing needs of humanity.
4. Accomplishes the most satisfactory results.

Verses 32-40


1 Kings 1:33. Take the servants of your lord: viz., the royal body-guard (1 Kings 1:38). Ride upon mine own mule—The command that he “ride” was especially significant, for no one, under pain of death, might mount the king’s mule; to ride thereon was an actual declaration that be was king. A she-mule, טִּרְדָּה, because more docile and enduring than the male. Gihon—A pool or fountain on the west side of Jerusalem; favourable as a scene for a vast assemblage, and removed sufficiently from En-rogel to avoid a collision with Adonijah’s adherents.

1 Kings 1:34. Anoint him—Done only in the case of a new dynasty or disputed succession.

1 Kings 1:35. Sit on my throne—David would resign it to Solomon. Over Israel and over Judah—The kingdoms were not yet separate, but the union of the names was designed to arrest the growing disposition to separation which the envy of Ephiaim was fostering.

1 Kings 1:39. An horn of oil out of the tabernacle: the priestly consecrated oil, prepared according to divine directions (Exodus 30:22-25); the king was thus emphatically “the anointed of the Lord.”

1 Kings 1:40. People came up after himi.e., to Zion, the citadel.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:32-40


1 Kings 1:1. Was undertaken with the full approbation and by the express directions of the reigning monarch. 1. The king voluntarily abdicated in favour of his son Solomon. “He shall be king in my stead; and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and Judah” (1 Kings 1:35). No sooner is David roused to comprehend the gravity of the occasion than he proceeds to make the most complete arrangements for carrying out his own intentions and the Divine will. He surrenders into the hand of the youthful Solomon the kingdom which, for the most part, had been conquered and consolidated by his own military and administrative genius. He had subdued Ephraim, which took the name of Israel, and united it with Judah. Considerable jealousy existed between these two portions of the empire, which ultimately forced on a separation. The old disunion reappeared in the revolt of Absalom, and was again revived by the attempt of Adonijah. It was therefore with a view of strengthening Solomon’s authority over the whole kingdom that David expressly declared that his son should be ruler over Israel and Judah. The abdication of a monarch in favour of a son is not always a wise proceeding. King Henry II. of England lived to regret that he had so acted. Prince Henry, inflated with his new dignity, and instigated to filial disobedience by his mother, rebelled against the king; and in 1183, in the midst of his wicked designs, was seized with a fatal illness, and died. But Solomon had learned better things from his father (Proverbs 4:4), from his mother (Proverbs 31:0), and from his tutor, Nathan.

2. The king was explicit in his directions (1 Kings 1:32-35). He summoned into his presence Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah, the chief representatives of the church and the army, and commanded them to take with them the royal body-guard, to set Solomon on his own mule, an honour never conferred but as a mark of the highest distinction; to conduct him in state down to Gihon, there to anoint him with the sacred oil, to sound the trumpet and proclaim him king in the public street; to bring him back to the court in magnificence and triumph, with all the necessary and imposing ceremonies of coronation. The minuteness with which these orders were given indicates the clearness and vigour of David’s mind, and the fervour of his soul in doing what he believed to be the right. Zeal for God should ever be controlled by particularity, method, and purpose.

3. The action of the king met with signal approval (1 Kings 1:36-37). Benaiah, on behalf of the rest, applauds the act, and adds his devout Amen. He also utters a prayer that Jehovah may be with Solomon, and exalt his throne above that of his father. The best of men desire their children to be wiser and better than themselves; as they themselves desire to be wiser and better. To be wise and good is to be truly great. Benaiah neither flattered not reflected upon David; but, convinced that the king’s arrangements were in conformity with the Divine will, he wished that the blessing of heaven might rest upon the newly-formed government. God heard the prayer, and confirmed Solomon’s reign, characterized by a lengthened period of civil and religious felicity, representing the triumphant church in heaven, as David’s reign had been a figure of the church militant on earth.

II. Was celebrated with becoming solemnities.

1. There was all the outward display of regal magnificence. Among the Persians it was a capital offence to ride on a king’s horse, to sit on his throne, or to handle his sceptre without the royal permission: on the other hand, to be authorised to mount the royal palfrey was accounted by them the highest dignity. Solomon was placed on the king’s own mule, as a token that he was invested with the regal office; and, attended by the principal officers of the church, the state, and the army, with all the external pomp of a royal procession, was conducted down to Gibon, a small brook on the west side of Jerusalem which emptied itself into the Kedron. The Rabbins assert that all the Hebrew kings were anointed beside a fountain or river as a symbol of the perpetuity of their kingdom. It was a spot where a large assemblage could be gathered, and from which an imposing entrance into the city, which had no open public square, could be made. External display is an important means of impressing the people with the majesty of the throne. That was a striking spectacle in the city of Brussels in 1555, when Charles V. abdicated in favour of his son Philip II. (vide Motley’s Rise of the Dutch Republic, vol. i., chap. 1). What a sight for the universe was that when the triumphant Messiah ascended on high, and was invested with the kingly authority!

2. There was the solemn anointing. An oil flask of horn, containing the anointing oil, which was used only for the anointing of priests and kings, was taken out of the tabernacle, where it was always carefully laid up; and Zadok and Nathan anointed the youthful king, one of them pouring out the oil, and the other anointing his head, drawing a circle round about it with oil, according to the maxim that the Hebrew kings were anointed in the form of a crown, to denote their delegation to the royal dignity. The pouring of the oil upon the head symbolized the communication of the Spirit of Jehovah (1 Samuel 16:13), and that the king should be endued with all regal virtues, and reign in submission to and for the furtherance of the will of God. The horn of oil was emblematic of power and plenty. The Messiah was anointed to his mediatorial office, not with oil, but with the immeasurable fulness of the Spirit (Psalms 45:7).

3. There was the public proclamation. Zadok blew his sacred ram’s-horn, that gave a far-sounding note, and was specially employed for giving signals, and on other solemn occasions; and, as was the custom on the inauguration of kings, the trumpeters of the guard followed with a loud blast, which announced to the assembled crowd the completion of the impressive ceremony. A shout then went up amid the acclamations of the multitude, “God save king Solomon!” Thus, with all the honours befitting the occasion, and in the most public manner, the youthful prince, at the age of fifteen according to some, of twenty according to others, was raised to the throne of his father David. The kingly character of the Messiah was openly proclaimed to the universe (Psalms 24:7-10).

III. Was the occasion of great national rejoicing (1 Kings 1:40). The people escorted their newly-crowned king to the city, and expressed their exuberant joy, after the manner of the Orientals, with the wild music of flutes, with vehement dancing, and with loud enthusiastic plaudits, so that the earth rang again. The excessive jubilation of the whole people showed that they did not side with Adonijah, but accepted the decision of David as authoritative and binding. They saw in the elevation of Solomon a victory over the daring usurper. The coronation of a monarch is a fitting time for national joy; the more so when the character of the king wins the confidence of the people. There is everything in the kingly character of the Messiah to call forth the joyous acclaim of all angelic powers, of all peoples, of all ages.


1. A wise king will make the best arrangement for the future stability and peace of his kingdom.

2. The accession of a good prince should be celebrated with all due honours.

3. All thrones are at the divine disposal. He disconcerts the most cleverly-conceived cabal, and works through the confusion his own peaceful ends.


I. Like Solomon, Christ was appointed to the regal office by His Father. Years before the actual event the voice of prophecy declared: “I have set my king upon my hill of Zion” (Psalms 2:6). Gabriel announced to the Virgin: “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). The highest expectations were cherished as to the permanent results of Solomon’s brilliant reign; but it was reserved for the true, the later Son of David to fulfil the prophetic yearnings which had gathered round the birth of the earlier. All the weight and magnificence of the Father’s authority belonged to the Messiah absolutely (Matthew 28:18).

II. Like Solomon, Christ was established in His throne, notwithstanding the violent opposition of His enemies. The greatest dignitaries of both the Jewish and heathen worlds plotted against the Messiah, and strove to prevent the establishment of his kingdom. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers took counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed,” &c. (Psalms 2:2-3). There had been a similar confederacy among the Ammonites, Syrians, &c., against David, but it was completely crushed. And terrible was the vengeance that fell on the enemies of God’s anointed One. The Romans were the instruments of the Divine wrath against the Jews, and, in course of time, punishment fell upon the Romans; the imperial city was captured by the Goths, and the conquered people subjected to the most barbarous cruelties. All opposition to Christ, the Father looks upon as opposition to Himself, and it can end only in unutterable disaster and defeat.

III. Like Solomon, Christ was solemnly anointed. His name, Christos, implies it. But the Messiah was not anointed to the regal office with oil. Indeed, the consecrated oil, specially compounded and specially appropriated to the anointing of kings and priests, was lost hundred of years before the birth of Christ, and the custom of anointing in that manner had long ceased. The only anointing of the Messiah of which we read is, the anointing of the Spirit. Peter testifies “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38). And this anointing took place, partly at His conception (Luke 1:35), by which He was prepared for His mission, and more fully at His baptism (Matthew 3:16), when He formally entered upon the performance of all the functions belonging to His Messiahship. His baptism in the river Jordan still retained the analogy suggested by the old Jewish custom of anointing kings near a stream, to signify the perpetuity of the kingdom. The unction of the Holy Ghost was poured on Him with an immeasureable fulness (John 3:34).

IV. Like Solomon, Christ made His triumphal entry into the Holy City amid the joyous plaudits of the people. Great was the joy and loud were the hosannas of the people when Jesus rode in glorious but homely pomp into his own loved Jerusalem—“Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). But grander and louder was the shout of victory that shook the heavens when the triumphant Messiah ascended to His court on high, and took possession of His mediatorial throne (Psalms 47:5-8; Psalms 24:7-10).


1. Jesus reigns—His people may therefore rejoice.

2. Jesus reigns—His people will therefore triumph over every foe.

3. Jesus reigns—the present and future interests of His people are therefore secure.

Verses 41-49


1 Kings 1:47. King bowed himself upon his bed—His infirmities allowed him to do no more (compare Genesis 47:31).

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:41-49


I. That rebels are more intent on selfish indulgence than the public good. “As they had made an end of eating” (1 Kings 1:41). Adonijah and his supporters had given themselves up to festivity; and the entertainment must have been greatly prolonged, as all the arrangements for crowning and proclaiming Solomon had been initiated and completed while his opponents were gluttonising. Rebellion originates in a feeling of intense selfishness, and when it grasps power it uses its advantage in a free, unchecked indulgence of those appetites which the force of constitutional order had restrained. How often has the conqueror of a tyrant become in turn a greater tyrant himself! He consults not the weal of the community, but the greed of his own passions. They who oppose the Lord Jesus Christ are such as serve their own bellies (Romans 16:18; Philippians 3:19). Excessive indulgence lulls the soul into a fatal security. The antediluvians, intent only on selfish indulgence, were deaf to all warnings, till the roaring waters roused them into concern; and then their frantic efforts were powerless to rescue from the suffocating waves. The dwellers in Sodom gave rein to the lowest tendencies of their nature, until the reeking stench of their abominations became intolerable, and was purged away with the fire from heaven. So shall it be at the end of the world (Luke 17:26-30).

II. That rebels are often surprised in the midst of fancied security. “Wherefore is this noise?” (1 Kings 1:41). The blare of the same trumpet that proclaimed the coronation of Solomon startled the revellers, and revealed to the leaders of the revolt the critical position of their enterprise. What was an inspiriting note of triumph to one party was the dread signal of confusion and defeat to the other. “When sin spreads the table of riotous feasting, the end of that mirth will be heaviness. Ever after the meal is ended comes the reckoning. No doubt, at this feast, there was many a health drunk to Adonijah, many a confident boast of their prospering design, many a scorn of the despised faction of Solomon; and now for their last dish is served up astonishment and fearful expectation of a just revenge.”—Hall. The wicked are often overtaken when they are least on their guard. It requires a sleepless vigilance to detect the swift and silent approach of justice, and superhuman forethought to ward off its inevitable vengeance; and these are qualities the wicked do not possess. The rebel is like a man who struggles to secure possession of an ocean rock because of the fabulous treasure it is reputed to contain; and while he is gloating over his newly-found wealth, heedless of danger, he becomes suddenly aware that he is surrounded by the steadily rising sea, which, despite his shrieks of horror, enfolds him in its pitiless embrace, and sings a low, wild, mournful dirge as it entombs him in its liquid depths.

III. That rebels are compelled to listen to unwelcome tidings (1 Kings 1:42-48). Jonathan, the son of Abiathar the priest, had probably been left behind to act as a spy upon the movements of the leading men in the city. He had seen much and heard more from reliable sources. His industry and acuteness in gathering information were amazing; and when, with breathless haste, he broke in upon the thoughtless banquetters, very different was his interpretation of the tumult which interrupted their revelry, from what Adonijah anticipated. Joab, an old campaigner, understood its significance, and trembled; but Adonijah, blinded by vanity and presumption, flattered himself that all events would be in his favour. That man is often least timorous who is in the most dangerous condition. The order in which Jonathan related his tidings was calculated to make a deep impression on his listeners, and to increase the consternation which they caused. David had formally nominated Solomon as his successor: therefore, the hopes of Adonijah were wrecked, and his attempt branded with rebellion and ingratitude. Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah had been authorised to set Solomon on the royal mule: therefore, these men enjoyed the confidence of the aged king, and would occupy a foremost place in the court of the youthful monarch; and the leading men who supported the revolt of Adonijah had every reason to fear for the consequences of their perfidy. Solomon had been solemnly anointed: therefore, the king was in earnest, and everything had been done to secure the Divine approval. The youthful king had been brought to Jerusalem, and placed on the throne of his father: therefore, his triumph was complete. The utmost publicity had been given to the whole transaction: it was accomplished with becoming pomp and dignity: it was welcomed by the principal officers of state: it was applauded by the people with an extravagance of joy: it was approved and confirmed by the highest authority, the dying king bowing reverently upon his bed, and pouring out his soul in gratitude to God. This intelligence filled the rebels with dismay, and convinced them of the true character and utter hopelessness of their enterprise. Awful are the tidings that will soon break upon the ear of the sinner: in the midst of his boasting and merriment the message will come that will fill his soul with a nameless terror: “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

IV. That rebels are doomed ere long to an inglorious defeat (1 Kings 1:49). The followers of Adonijah were stricken with fear, their faces paled, their hearts grew chill, their courage failed them, their sport was spoiled, and, their eyes being opened, they saw the wicked daring of their conduct. They were now liable to be punished as rebels. They took to flight, and thus sought to escape the consequence of their rash attempt. “They were afraid, and rose up and went every man his way.” Such is the fate of all unrighteous rebellion against God or man. Rebellion has in it no element of permanency. It clutches at a temporary advantage, while it outrages and tramples on eternal principles. It must sooner or later suffer defeat—defeat the most humiliating and disastrous. It is a bubble, inflated with pride and glittering with the many-coloured tints of vanity, but melting away before the gossamer thread stretched across its pathway. It is a cloud-wreath—light, gay, pretentious, aspiring; but vanishing into space before it reaches the summit of the mountain from the spongy flank of which it sprang.


1. Rebels are intensely selfish.

2. Rebels are ever in the greatest peril.

3. It is a mercy when rebels are convinced of their folly before recovery is hopeless.


1 Kings 1:41-49. The frustration of the schemes of Adonijah.

1. The intelligence he obtains.

2. The effect produced by this intelligence. To an evil conscience (Joab) the trumpets which announce victory and joy are judgment trumpets which sound forth—Thou art weighed, and found wanting. The same message in which David expresses himself, Blessed be, &c. (1 Kings 1:48), works terror and alarm in Adonijah and his party. So still ever sounds the “good message,” that the true Prince of Peace (Christ) has won the victory, and is seated at the right hand of God, which to some is for thanksgiving and praise, so that they support themselves upon it; but to others it is a stone of stumbling, so that they fall and are confounded (Isaiah 8:14; Luke 2:34).—Lange.

1 Kings 1:42. A truthful messenger

1. Is at great pains to ascertain the truth.
2. Has a good reputation to maintain. “Thou art a valiant man.”
3. Is unmoved by flattery. “Come in; thou bringest good tidings.”
4. Swerves not from the truth because it is unpleasant.
5. Is earnest and faithful in giving prominence to the main features of his message.
6. Is often the means of arresting mischief before it has gone too far.

1 Kings 1:48. The joy of aged and dying saints in leaving their descendants prosperous, peaceful, and pious. David blessed God that He had given him a worthy successor. He had great satisfaction in Solomon’s character as one eminently wise and good, in whom the Israelites would heartily acquiesce and rejoice, and under whose government the kingdom would be peaceful, prosperous, and happy. Amidst all the languor of nature, David’s heart rejoiced in this happy settlement, and he ascribes the praise to that God from whom promotion cometh. Observe—

I. That the prospect of leaving their families in prosperous and peaceful circumstances and in the service of God is a matter of great joy to aged and dying saints.

1. It is a pleasure to an aged and dying saint to leave his family in prosperous circumstances. It is the character of a good man that he is not a lover of this world, nor anxiously solicitous about future events. Nevertheless, he considers himself as obliged by the laws of nature, reason, and the gospel, to provide for those of his own house; not only to furnish them with the necessaries of life while he liveth, but lay up for them such a share of its good things as he can, consistent with their present support and comfort, and the other demands which his great Lord hath upon him. He is particularly pleased and thankful that what he leaves is the fruit of his honest industry; that he has no ill-gotten money among his substance, to bring a curse upon it; and that his family will be likely to have the blessing of God with what he leaves them.

2. It is a greater pleasure to leave his descendants in unity and love. David had seen and felt much of the fatal mischiefs of discord in his own family; but he hoped that the settlement of so wise and benevolent a prince as Solomon on the throne would establish and secure its peace. Contentions and quarrels, between whomsoever they happen, are grievous to all the sons of peace, dishonourable to religion, and injurious to its power; but between those of the same stock and family they are most shameful and pernicious. The celebrated Phillip de Mornay (Lord Plessis) said, with an air of cheerfulness, just before his death: “I am arrived at the height of comfort, since I die with the assurance of leaving peace among my children.”

3. It is his greatest joy to leave his descendants in the way of holiness, and zealous for the support of religion. Next to the good hope of his own salvation, there is nothing can give the heart of a pious parent higher delight than such a prospect as this. He can adopt the dying words of Joseph to his brethren and posterity: “I die; but God will surely visit you, and bring you to the land which He hath promised” (Genesis 50:24).

II. The reasons why such a prospect gives so much joy to aged and dying saints.

1. This joy arises in part from their natural love to their descendants. God hath implanted in all creatures a strong affection to their offspring, in order that they may preserve and sustain them till they are capable of providing for themselves. This natural instinct or affection is, in good men, sanctified by religion. Thus their children become dear to them by a stronger and more engaging tie than that of nature, even their common relation to God as their Father and Friend, and to Jesus as their Redeemer and Saviour.

2. The concern aged saints feel for the honour of God and for the continuance and spread of religion increases this joy. It is the joy of the good man to think that though he is dying, religion is not dying with him: that that will survive, and continue in the town and neighbourhood to which he is related, and, especially, in his own family. The more the dying saint loves God and His ways, the more he rejoices there are those rising up in his stead who will have the same love and care, and be the support of religion when he is laid in the dust.

3. But the principal ground of joy of the aged and dying saint is the prospect of meeting his pious descendants again in the heavenly world. The separation from loved ones is but short; and it is with unspeakable joy the dying saint looks around on his pious, dutiful children when he thinks that he shall soon meet them again in the presence of Christ, with their graces infinitely improved and all their imperfections done away.


1. It should be the earnest desire and diligent careofall parents that they may have this joy. The pious Dr. Annesty, when one of his friends hinted to him that his charity was too great considering the number of his children, answered: “You quite mistake the matter: I am laying up portions for my children.”

2. Aged saints who have this joy ought to be very thankful. A strong obligation is laid upon them to employ their remaining time and strength in endeavouring to promote higher degrees of piety, zeal, and usefulness in those who shall come after them.

3. It is the duty of young persons to fulfil their parents’ joy. It is mentioned, as an amiable part of the character of the judicious Hooker, that he used to say: “If I had no other reason and motive for being religious, I would strive earnestly to be so for the sake of my aged mother, that I may requite her care of me, and cause the widow’s heart to sing for joy.”—Orton.

1 Kings 1:49. The inconstancy of wicked accomplices.

1. That the wicked vow undying friendship to each other when the lower instincts of their nature are gratified. When Adonijah prepared a feast he had troops of friends.

2. That the first tidings of calamity fill the wicked with fear. The sinner is essentially a coward. Having no righteous principle to sustain him, he is powerless in the day of adversity. 3 That the wicked, on the slightest alarm, seek safety in ignoble flight. When the message of misfortune was brought to Adonijah, all his professed adherents, even the astute Joab, forsook him (Ecclesiastes 6:10-12).

—“And went every man his way.” Individual responsibility

1. Cannot be merged in the actions of the crowd.
2. Is vividly impressed upon the conscience in the hour of misfortune.
3. Recognises the desert of punishment for wrong-doing.
4. Anxiously strives to escape impending vengeance.

Verses 50-53


1 Kings 1:50. Caught hold on the horns of the altar: an act by which he appealed to God and man that his life, forfeited by his attempted usurpation of the throne, might be spared. Originally the place was appointed as an asylum for accidental homicides (Exodus 21:12 sq.), but later on other transgressors sought and found refuge there, befriended from the penalty of their crimes.

1 Kings 1:53. Go to thine house: be content with privacy, remain in seclusion, as, the not again; in so doing he was to show himself a worthy man, vir probus. Such an act of clemency by Solomon towards his rival was a noble inauguration of his kingly rule, and must have both favourably affected the nation and conciliated the followers of Adonijah.

HOMILETICS OF 1 Kings 1:50-53


I. Here we have royal clemency earnestly and humbly sought (1 Kings 1:50-51). The reckless adventurer is liable to great and sudden changes he may be a monarch in the morning, and a beggar before night. He who issues commands and pardons to others may himself have to sue for mercy. Adonijah confesses his crime, acknowledges the kingship of Solomon, declares his subjection, and seeks forgiveness. The fear of death, the sense of sin, and the alarming consequences it involves, the yearning of the soul to be reconciled to the Being whom we have offended, lend unutterable pathos and fervency to our prayers. The deepest want of the soul, and that which is expressed in its most thrilling cry, is mercy. The sincere penitent seeks not in vain (Isaiah 55:6-7). Forgiveness is a blessing worthy of the most diligent search.

II. Here we have royal clemency moved by the distress of the vanquished. Adonijah, who a few hours ago was the proudest and gayest in Judah, elevated to the pinnacle of confident success (1 Kings 1:5; 1 Kings 1:42), was now a crushed and disappointed man. He fears the vengeance of his successful brother, flies to the altar for safety, and becomes a trembling suppliant for mercy. It may be, Adonijah had before slighted the religious services of the altar; but, as with many others, in the time of distress it is the first place to which he runs. Whatever drives the sinner to the mercy-seat is an unspeakable blessing. Solomon hears of Adonijah’s penitence and terror; he remembers he is his brother; that this was perhaps his first offence; that he will be more serviceable as a peaceful subject than as a restless agitator of rebellion; and the heart of the young prince is moved to clemency. The victor can afford to be generous, and the most fitting exercise of newly-acquired power is to show mercy. So God hears the cry of distress—the sad monotone of woe, ever surging up from the throbbing sea of human experience. He beholds, too, the voiceless anguish under which thousands writhe; and His great heart melts with pity, and His arm is outstretched to save.

III. Here we have the conditions on which royal clemency is exercised (1 Kings 1:52). Indiscriminate lenity is fatal to good government. The continuance of mercy is conditioned on the moral conduct of the pardoned. Adonijah is put on his good behaviour. If he show himself a worthy man [Hebrew, a son of valour], controlling himself and quietly submitting to the reigning power, he shall remain secure and unmolested; but if he hatches a new treason, or otherwise misconducts himself, his life is imperilled. Let not the veteran in wickedness delude himself with the belief that he will go unpunished, or that in the boundlessness of the Divine goodness his sins will be overlooked. The Righteousness that provides an outflow of the richest mercy is also inflexibly rigorous in inflicting deserved vengeance (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Romans 1:18; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The moral character we form on earth will be the basis of our condition and destiny in the future world: and that character will be inevitably developed, or blasted, according to the degree in which we gain or forfeit the clemency and approbation of God.

IV. Here we have royal clemency generously declared. “So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar; and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house” (1 Kings 1:53). His crime is pardoned, his life is spared, and he is reinstated in his position and inheritance. Considering the custom of Eastern monarchies, the marvel is that Adonijah was so generously dealt with. In some Oriental countries, not only are pretenders almost always punished with death, but it has often been the custom for each king, upon his accession, to put to death all his brothers as mere possible pretenders. In Turkey this custom continued into the present century. Pardon brings no comfort to the stricken penitent unless it is distinctly declared and consciously realized. God delighteth in mercy and in assuring the trembling but believing soul of the joy-creating fact of forgiveness. To forgive is the most difficult and the most God-like; it is here that the flood-tide of generosity registers its highest summit.

V. Here we have royal clemency gratefully acknowledged. “And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon” (1 Kings 1:53). Subdued more by the generous spirit of his victorious brother than by the failure of his own boasted enterprize, Adonijah renders thankful homage at once to the clemency and the dignity of the king. Man forgets the gracious power that delivers him from misery far more quickly than the pungency of the misery itself when endured. Of the ten lepers cleansed, only one returned to give thanks to the Great Healer. To be grateful is the least that man can do, and it is a grace of which he shows the least. Life should be one glad expression of thankfulness and humble obedience.


1. Power loses none of its dignity or efficiency by showing mercy.

2. To be forgiven increases the obligation to live uprightly.

3. The pardon earnestly sought should be humbly and gratefully acknowledged.


1 Kings 1:50. The altar, the refuge for the guilty.

1. It is the place of sacrifice and atonement.
2. It is the symbol of reconciliation.
3. It is the scene of divine manifestations.
4. It is suggestive of worship.
5. It is the sanctuary of the distressed in all ages.

1 Kings 1:52. Destiny decided by moral character.

1. Man is a free moral agent.
2. He is therefore responsible for his beliefs, words, and actions.
3. Every provision has been made to aid man in the right conduct of life.
4. The position of man in the future is decided by the character and results of his present life.
5. To abuse religious privileges entails unutterable disaster.

1 Kings 1:53. “Go to thine house.” The uncertainty of earthly greatness.

1. It is possible to be one day in affluence, the next a pauper.
2. True greatness is permanent only when it rests on a moral basis.
3. It is a bitter experience to descend from a proud popularity to obscurity.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-kings-1.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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