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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
1 Kings 1

 

 

Verses 1-53

1 Kings 1:2. A young virgin. This raised Abishag to the rank of a betrothed wife. No doubt there were precedents for this conduct, but history is silent on the subject.

1 Kings 1:5. Then Adonijah, the younger brother of Absalom, aspired to the throne. These youths being sons of a princess of Geshur, assumed a sovereignty over their brothers, whose mothers were daughters of Hebrew families.

1 Kings 1:6. His father had not displeased him. Vulgate, nec corripuit, had not corrected him. When the Spanish robbers were amusing the feast with tales, one said that he had been delicately brought up, never corrected, but always indulged in what he wanted. Another replied, that his lot had been just the reverse. He had been beaten, starved, kicked about, and left altogether without instruction. Both these modes of education lay the sure foundation of ruin to a boy.

1 Kings 1:11. Nathan spake to Bathsheba. This holy man was tutor to Solomon.

1 Kings 1:21. I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders: I an adulteress, and he a son of spurious birth. Bathsheba was a woman of a strong and penetrating mind.

1 Kings 1:33. Bring him down to Gihon, the great fount above Jerusalem, described in 2 Chronicles 32:30. Adonijah had been inaugurated at the opposite fount of Rogel.

1 Kings 1:39. Zadok the priest anointed Solomon. He was not as yet the highpriest, nor was it requisite. Samuel anointed David, and a prophet anointed Jehu. The Lord can send by whom he pleases to do his own work.

1 Kings 1:50. Adonijah—caught hold on the horns of the altar. He fled to Gibeon, for the altar and tabernacle were there, though the ark was in Zion. 2 Chronicles 1:3. The altar of the Hebrews was a refuge, till a man’s case was heard. Exodus 21:14. Isaiah likewise distinguishes Christ the true refuge, from the refuge of lies. The pagan altars were also places of refuge. So Virgil: Talibus orabat dictis, arásque tenebat. In such words he prayed, holding the altar: Æneid. lib. 6. line 124. Christian churches, after the age of Constantine, were long regarded as places of refuge.

REFLECTIONS.

While David, though seventy years of age, was fully employed in the civil and military establishments, requisite for the peace and the defence of his vast empire, he was suddenly seized with a chilling cold, or palsy in all his limbs: nor had he, being an absolute monarch, nominated the successor to his throne, farther than an almost private oath to Bathsheba, that Solomon her son should reign. While aged men are busy in their affairs, and as much so as in youth, it would be well for them to recollect, that their advanced age renders them peculiarly subject to afflictions and the approach of death. Their temporal and eternal affairs should therefore be every moment so arranged that they may have nothing to do but to die. The neglect of the former may produce family feuds, and the neglect of the latter may occasion the loss of their souls.

We have to lament that this great and holy man was surrounded in his last moments by foolish and profane physicians, or by generals instead of seers, who provided him with a bride instead of a shroud. It was a most unreasonable imposition on the king, and calculated to disturb the pious ejaculations of his soul. The idea of conveying natural warmth to his body was not altogether reprehensible; but he had wives not so aged as to be incapable of the duty; and we have still to lament the potions which some physicians administer to dying men. On visiting some good men in their affliction in the afternoon, I have found their conversation to correspond with the piety of their former lives; but on calling in a morning I have found them stupid and amazed. The laudanum forced upon them as a night drought, had produced a most stupifying effect on all their senses. It does indeed make a patient quiet and composed; but it totally fails in procuring natural sleep. I would rather see dying saints in the hands of skilful nurses, than profane physicians.

The king had scarcely recovered the use of his limbs, or was able to issue his commands, before he was apprized of the preparations Adonijah had made to ascend the throne; that Joab his general, and Abiathar his priest, had joined the conspiracy, being piqued at the loss of their places. This was the more afflictive as Adonijah well knew the king’s pleasure concerning Solomon. But though David had now to reproach himself with excess of indulgence, and with not executing judgment on Joab for the assassination of Abner and Amasa; yet for once, the wisdom of Nathan was greater than the valour of Joab. His wise counsel frustrated the plot; and conformably to the pleasure of God and the king, for the happiness of Israel, he placed the young Solomon on the throne of his father. There being always something extraordinary in the strong and predominant passions of men, children should be taught to obey, that in the issue they may know how to command. Joab’s strong passions had hurried him into many crimes during the long and splendid career of life. Now, in hopes of regaining his place and honour under Adonijah, he was regardless of allegiance, of conscience, and of every duty. Abiathar, seeing Zadok wear the mitre, was actuated by the same narrow and selfish views. Thus they drew nearly all the nobility of Jerusalem into the plot. Oh what crimes will some men commit, to gratify their pride and private interest, and mask their wicked views under the garb of a patriotic spirit.

But oh how terrified was this faction when they heard the heavens rend with shouts, and the vales and hills re-echo the joy; when they learned by Jonathan that Solomon was anointed, and riding on the royal beast, followed by the guards and all the good inhabitants of Jerusalem. Appalled and confounded in their hopes they shrunk away from their half-finished feast, to hide in holes, or in the inner chambers of their houses. Yea, even mighty Joab, who never before fled from the proudest of his foes, now had no courage left. So when Christ the anointed of the Father shall take to him his great power and reign, all his enemies shall be disconcerted at his presence, and shall flee before him. Let them triumph; in a little while the company of the Lord shall be greater than theirs, and it shall strike them through with a thousand fears, and with terrors ominous of eternal woe. In a little time the trumpet of the Lord’s anointed shall sound, and the shouts of his company shall rend the skies; and all his enemies, fainting with fear, shall be speechless at his bar.

Let the wicked, the rebels against heaven, learn, from the delusion and ruin of Adonijah, that the day of the Lord will come upon them in an hour when they are not aware. It was while this prince was seated on his temporary throne, while the two grey-headed rebels who ought to have had wiser heads and better hearts, were arranging his plans, and while the accumulating crowd, attracted more by the feast than the cause, were devouring a thousand oxen, sheep and lambs, and shouting congratulations, or rather, treasons in the prince’s ears; it was in this moment of festivity and joy that they heard the trumpets and shouts from the city. Hence let the giddy crowd at the ball, let the brilliant circles at the grand fète, let the motley group at the theatre, and the infidel in the narrower circle of his club, be reminded, that as in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

Sinners, to avert the impending blow, run with this prince to the horns of the altar. Refuge and propitiation there are no other. Read, with Adonijah, in that fire, the punishments due to sin; read in the burning limbs of the innocent lamb the death which Jesus died for you. Read in all this transfer of guilt to innocence, the glory of the atonement, the nature of justification, and the foundation of all our hope. Stay there; stay firmly, grasping the prominent horns of hope, till the king’s pleasure shall be declared. Leave not hold of this hope for a moment, for the ministers of justice surround you with their swords unsheathed, to inflict the strokes of death. No, never leave your hold, till your offended king shall swear that you shall live and not die.

Learn lastly, that the wary Solomon would give his brother but a conditional pardon. If he show himself a quiet and worthy man, said the generous king, and for the future avoid all revolts and factions, then not a hair of his head shall fall to the ground. Thus also a greater prince than Solomon, forgiving ten thousand talents to his steward, enforced the punishment anew, when the object of so much clemency afterwards would not forgive fifty pense to his fellow servant. Matthew 18. Thus he still keeps the sins of the justified, as the good Baxter teaches, in the book of his remembrance, that in case of dire apostasy he may enforce the penalty in full proportion to the greatness of the guilt.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/1-kings-1.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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