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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 1

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2989. B.C. 1015.

David declines in health, 1 Kings 1:1-4 . Adonijah aspires to the kingdom, 1 Kings 1:5-10 . Nathan and Bathsheba procure an order from David for the succession of Solomon, 1 Kings 1:11-31 . The anointing of Solomon, and the people’s joy, 1 Kings 1:32-40 . The dispersion of Adonijah’s party, 1 Kings 1:41-49 . Solomon dismisses Adonijah. 50-53.

Verse 1

1 Kings 1:1. Now King David was old Being in the end of his seventieth year. They covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat Which is not strange, considering he was a person who had been exercised with so many hardships in war, and with such tormenting cares, and fears, and sorrows for his own sins, (as divers of his psalms witness,) and for the sins and miseries of his children and people. Besides, this might be from the nature of his bodily distemper, which Dr. Lightfoot thinks was a dead palsy. [David now began to feel the effects of old age, and probably remembered with lively interest the words of his faithful friend Barzillai, spoken some time before: “Can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink?”]

Verse 2

1 Kings 1:2. Wherefore his servants His physicians; said, Let there be sought for the king a young virgin Whose natural heat is fresh and wholesome, and not impaired with bearing or breeding children. The same counsel is given by Galen for the cure of some cold and dry distempers. Let her stand before the king That is, minister unto him, or wait upon him in his sickness, as occasion requires. And let her lie in his bosom As his wife; for that she was so, may appear by divers arguments. 1st, Otherwise this had been a wicked course; which, therefore, neither his servants would have dared to prescribe, nor would David have used, especially being now in a dying condition. 2d, It appears from this phrase of lying in his bosom, which is everywhere in Scripture mentioned as the privilege of a wife. 3d, This made Adonijah’s crime, in desiring her to wife, so heinous in Solomon’s account, because he saw, that by marrying the king’s wife, he designed to revive his pretence to the kingdom.

Verse 4

1 Kings 1:4 . The king knew her not Did not enjoy her as his wife, but she remained still a virgin: which is mentioned to signify the continuance and progress of the king’s malady.

Verse 5

1 Kings 1:5. Then Upon notice of the desperateness of the king’s disease, and the approach of his death; Adonijah exalted himself Entertained high thoughts and designs; saying, I will be king As the right of the kingdom is mine, (1 Kings 1:6,) so I will now take possession of it. And he prepared him chariots, &c. As Absalom had done upon the like occasion, 1 Samuel 15:1.

Verses 6-7

1 Kings 1:6-7. His father had not displeased him at any time This is mentioned as David’s great error, and the occasion of Adonijah’s presumption. In saying, Why hast thou done so? He had neither restrained him from, nor reproved him for his miscarriages, which David knew was a great sin. He also was a very goodly man This was a second ground of his confidence, because his great comeliness made him amiable in the people’s eyes. His mother bare him after Absalom This is mentioned as a third reason why he expected the crown. Absalom being dead, he was next to him in order of birth. See 2 Samuel 3:3-4. He conferred with Joab and with Abiathar Whom it is likely he knew to be two discontented persons; the former on account of David’s putting Amasa in his place, and the other because he saw Zadok in greater favour than himself. They helped him Probably, not so much because they thought the right of the crown was his, as with a view to oppose Solomon, and to secure and advance their own interest. It seems that God left them to themselves, to correct them for former miscarriages, with a rod of their own making.

Verses 8-10

1 Kings 1:8-10. The mighty men were not with Adonijah That is, those named 2 Samuel 23:0., and the guards, who had served under David so long, and had done such mighty acts in his reign and under his conduct. Adonijah had no hope of drawing them to his party, and therefore did not confer with them as he did with Joab and Abiathar. And called all his brethren and all the men of Judah Except those mentioned 1 Kings 1:8, and again excepted, 1 Kings 1:10. But all the rest of the family of David, and the principal persons of the tribe of Judah, with the high-priest and captain of the host, being present, there seemed to be nothing wanting to the making of him king, but only his anointing. For this appears to have been a federal feast, in which they swore allegiance to Adonijah. But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, &c., he called not Because he knew they favoured Solomon.

Verse 11

1 Kings 1:11. Nathan spake unto Bath-sheba Who, being private and retired in her apartment, was ignorant of what was done abroad; and who was likely to be most zealous in the cause, and most prevalent with David. To her Nathan was induced to speak, both by his piety, that he might fulfil the will of God declared to him concerning Solomon’s succession, 2 Samuel 7:13; and by his prudence, knowing that Adonijah hated him for being the principal instrument of Solomon’s advancement. That Adonijah doth reign It seems they were so bold as to proclaim him king.

Verses 13-15

1 Kings 1:13-15. Didst thou not, O king, swear unto thy handmaid? We do not read anywhere else of this oath: but, no doubt, David had solemnly sworn to her that he would make her son his successor, knowing that God himself had designed him to that honour. And it is probable that Adonijah was not an entire stranger to what God had declared to Nathan and David on this subject: and if so, his crime was the greater in setting himself to oppose the decree of heaven. Indeed he acknowledges as much, 1 Kings 2:15. The king was very old And therefore, probably, could not see so as to discern who had entered the chamber till Abishag, who ministered unto him, informed him.

Verses 19-20

1 Kings 1:19-20. Solomon thy servant She speaks very submissively, and calls herself his handmaid, and her son his servant. The eyes of all Israel are upon thee This she said that she might free him from all fear of such a rebellion as Absalom raised; the people not being yet joined to Adonijah, but continuing in suspense till the king had declared his mind about his successor.

Verses 26-27

1 Kings 1:26-27. But me hath he not called Whom he knew to be acquainted with thy mind, and with the mind of God in this matter; and therefore his neglect of me herein gives me cause to suspect that this is done without thy knowledge. Thou hast not showed it to thy servant Who, having been an instrument in delivering God’s message to thee concerning thy successor, might reasonably expect that if thou hadst changed thy mind, thou wouldest have acquainted me with it, as being both a prophet of the Lord, and one whom thou hast found faithful to thee. He insinuates that, in a matter of such importance, he could not believe the king would act without his advice, whom he was wont to consult on other occasions, and who had acquainted him with the mind of God concerning Solomon. Nathan knew that David had given no orders about this thing, but thought it prudent to introduce in this manner a relation of what Adonijah had done.

Verses 28-29

1 Kings 1:28-29. King David said, Call Bath-sheba Who, upon Nathan’s approach to the king, had modestly withdrawn. That hath redeemed my soul out of all distress The words contain a grateful acknowledgment of the goodness of God to him, in bringing him safe through the many difficulties that had lain in his way, and which he now mentions to the glory of God, (as Jacob when he lay a dying,) thus setting to his seal, from his own experience, that the Lord redeemeth the souls of his servants.

Verse 31

1 Kings 1:31. Let my lord King David live for ever Though I desire thy oath may be kept, and the right of succession confirmed to my son, yet I am far from thirsting after thy death, and should rather rejoice, if it were possible, for thee to live and enjoy thy crown for ever. There could be no higher expression of love and thankfulness, than to desire never to see Solomon on the throne, if it were possible for David always to enjoy it.

Verse 33

1 Kings 1:33. Take with you the servants of your lord His constant guards, the Cherethites and Pelethites, 1 Kings 1:38. Cause Solomon to ride upon mine own mule As a token that the royal dignity is transferred upon him, and that by my consent. The rest of David’s sons were wont to ride upon mules when they went abroad, 2 Samuel 13:29. And Absalom rode on a mule when he was hanged in the oak. But David had a mule peculiarly reserved for himself alone; on which Solomon’s being set, was considered as the beginning of his kingly power, no private person whatsoever being permitted to ride upon the king’s mule. “It was capital,” says Maimonides, “to ride on the king’s ass or mule, to sit upon his throne, or to handle his sceptre without his order.” On the contrary, it appears from the story of Mordecai, (Esther 6:0.,) that to have the honour to ride on the king’s beast by his appointment, was accounted the highest dignity among the Persians. Bring him down to Gihon A little river or brook near Jerusalem, on the west side, which discharged itself into the brook Kidron, and in the Chaldee is called by its modern name, Siloa. If we may credit Maimonides, and other rabbis, the kings of the house of David were all obliged, to be anointed by the side of a fountain or river; which, they say, was the reason why David commanded his servants to bring his son down to Gihon, and anoint him there. Such a situation for anointing their kings, the Jews say, was chosen to show the perpetuity of their kingdom, because rivers run always, though the cities which they wash are continually decaying, and liable to destruction. But it is much more probable that this place was fixed on, because it was near Jerusalem, and a place of great resort, and capable of containing and displaying that numerous company, which David knew would follow Solomon thither. And being on the west side of the city, it was remote from Adonijah, who was inaugurated on the east side, and from his company, and therefore the people could assemble here without fear of tumults or bloodshed.

Verse 34

1 Kings 1:34. Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him That is, say the Jews, one of them poured out the oil, and the other anointed his head, drawing a circle round about it with oil, according to their maxim that their kings were anointed in the form of a crown, to denote their delegation to the royal dignity. It is of more importance to observe, that this unction signified not only the designation of the person anointed to his office, but the gifts and graces which were necessary to qualify him for it, and which, seeking them sincerely of God, he might expect to receive. “We do not find,” says Henry, “that Abiathar pretended to anoint Adonijah: he was made king by a feast, not by unction. Whom God calls, he will qualify, which was signified by the anointing: usurpers had it not. Christ signifies anointed, and he is the king whom God hath set upon his holy hill of Zion, according to the decree, Psalms 2:6-7. Christians, also, are made to our God, and by him, kings, and they have an unction from the Holy One, 1 John 2:20.”

Verses 35-36

1 Kings 1:35-36. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may sit on my throne Ye shall attend upon him to Jerusalem, and give him actual possession of the throne. For he shall be king in my stead My deputy and vice-king while I live, and absolutely king when I die. Over Israel and over Judah The latter clause is added, lest the men of Judah, who were in a special manner invited by Adonijah, (1 Kings 1:9,) should think themselves exempted from his jurisdiction. And Benaiah said, Amen They all said the same, (1 Kings 1:47,) not doubting but God would establish his authority.

Verses 39-40

1 Kings 1:39-40. Zadok took a horn of oil A vessel of oil, as the Arabic translates it; which vessel was made of an ox’s horn, as Bochart observes; out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon It rendered his unction more solemn, and his person more sacred, that he was anointed with holy oil taken out of the tabernacle: though the Jews are generally of opinion, that it was not necessary to anoint their kings with this holy oil made by Moses. So that the earth rent An hyperbolical expression, to signify the very loud noise which the people made with their shouts and their pipes.

Verses 46-48

1 Kings 1:46-48. Also Solomon sitteth on the throne Being in actual possession of the kingdom, though his father be alive. For to sit upon the throne was proper to the king; and none else, on pain of death, might be placed there. The king bowed himself upon the bed Adoring God for this great mercy, and thereby declaring his hearty consent to this action. And also thus said the king, Blessed be the Lord, &c. He gave his solemn thanks to God for the happiness of seeing Solomon begin his reign, with such affection of his people as they expressed by their joy at his inauguration. It is a great satisfaction to good men, when they are going out of the world, to see their children rising up in their stead, to serve God in their generation: and especially to see peace upon Israel, and the establishment of it.

Verses 50-51

1 Kings 1:50-51. Adonijah feared, &c. He fled to the altar for protection and safety, it being a privileged place; not, indeed, by the appointment of the law, but by the custom of all nations. And caught hold on the horns of the altar With a resolution, it seems, of not stirring therefrom till Solomon had given his oath, or solemn word, not to take away his life. And by thus doing Adonijah appears to have hindered the offering of sacrifices on the altar till such time as Solomon granted his pardon. Let King Solomon swear that he will not slay his servant He owns Solomon as his king, and himself as his servant and subject; and being sensible of his guilt, and of the jealousy which kings have of their competitors, could not be satisfied without Solomon’s oath.

Verses 52-53

1 Kings 1:52-53. And Solomon said, &c. Solomon did not swear unto him, as he desired, but only declared that he gave him a full pardon for what was past, on condition that he behaved himself as became a good subject for the time to come. But if wickedness be found in him, he shall die That is, if he did any thing in future which manifested that he had still a rebellious mind, the pardon, now granted, should signify nothing, because he had broken the condition of it. He came and bowed himself to King Solomon Thereby owning him for his sovereign, such respect not being otherwise due from one brother to another. And Solomon said unto him, Go to thy house There to lead a private life, without noise, equipage, or numerous attendants, and not meddling with the affairs of the kingdom.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/1-kings-1.html. 1857.
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