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Adam Clarke Commentary

1 Kings 1

Introduction

David, grown old, is, by the advice of his physicians, cherished by Abishag the Shunammite, 1 Kings 1:1 -4. Adonijah conspires with Joab and Abiathar to seize on the government, 1 Kings 1:5 -10. Nathan and Bathsheba communicate these tidings to the aged king, vv. 11-27. David immediately pronounces Solomon his successor, and causes Zadok and Nathan to proclaim and anoint him king, 1 Kings 1:28 -40. Adonijah and his friends hear of it, are afraid, and flee away, Adonijah laying hold on the horns of the altar, from which he refuses to go till Solomon shall promise him his life; this he does, and banishes him to his own house, 1 Kings 1:41 -53.

Verse 1

Now King David was old - He was probably now about sixty-nine years of age. He was thirty years old when he began to reign, reigned forty, and died in the seventieth year of his age, 2 Samuel 5:4 , and 1 Kings 2:11 ; and the transactions mentioned here are supposed to have taken place about a year before his death.But he gat no heat - Sixty-nine was not an advanced age; but David had been exhausted with various fatigues, and especially by family afflictions, so that he was much older in constitution than he was in years. Besides he seems to have labored under some wasting maladies, to which there is frequent reference in the Psalms.

Verse 2

Let there be sought - a young virgin - This was the best remedy which in his state could be prescribed. His nearly exhausted frame would infallibly absorb from her young and healthy body an additional portion of animal heat, and consequently trim and revive the flame of animal life. This is properly, as I have elsewhere expressed it, Friar Bacon's secret for the cure of old age.

Verse 4

The king knew her not - The maxim of Bacon in his enigmatical cure is, "Take all you can from the medicine, but give nothing to it; if you give any thing, it increases the disease and hastens death." I have seen this abundantly verified; but it is a subject on which it would be improper to dilate except in a medical work. An extract from Friar Bacon's Cure of Old Age may be found at the end of the chapter.

Verse 5

Adonijah the son of Haggith - Who this woman was we know not; Adonijah was evidently David's eldest son now living, and one of whom his father was particularly fond; see 1 Kings 1:6 .Prepared him chariots and horsemen - He copied the conduct of his brother Absalom in every respect. See 2 Samuel 15:1 .

Verse 7

And he conferred with Joab - Joab well knew, if he made the new king, he would necessarily be continued in the command of the army, and so govern him.

Verse 8

And Nathan - Some suppose that he was the preceptor of Solomon.

Verse 9

Slew sheep and oven - Making a royal feast, in reference to his inauguration. As he had Abiathar the priest with him, no doubt these animals were offered sacrificially, and then the guests fed on the flesh of the victims. He had not only a splendid feast, but a great sacrifice; and he gave by this a popular color to his pretensions, by affecting to receive his authority from God.

Verse 11

Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign - He was now considered as being legally appointed to the regal office, and no doubt was about to begin to perform its functions.

Verse 12

Save thine own life, and the life of thy son - Nathan took for granted that Adonijah would put both Bath-sheba and Solomon to death as state criminals, if he got established on the throne. O cursed lust of rule! a father will destroy his son, a son depose his father, and a brother murder a brother, in order to obtain a crown! At this time the monarchy of Israel was unsettled; no man knew who was to succeed to the crown, and the minds of the people were as unsettled as the succession. I have examined both systems, and find that, with all its alleged disadvantages, hereditary monarchy has a high balance of evidence in its favor beyond that which is elective, and is every way more safe for the state and more secure for the subject.

Verse 13

Go and get thee in unto King David - He knew that this woman had a sovereign influence over the king. If Bath-sheba was a source of pleasure to David, must she not also have been a source of pain to him? For could he ever forget the guilty manner in which he acquired her?Didst not thou - swear - It is very likely that David made such an oath, and that was known only to Bath-sheba and Nathan. It is nowhere else mentioned.

Verse 20

That thou shouldest tell - who shall sit on the throne - This was a monarchy neither hereditary nor elective; the king simply named his successor. This obtained less or more, anciently, in most countries.

Verse 21

Shall be counted offenders - When Adonijah and his party shall find that I and my son have had this promise from thee by oath, he will slay us both.

Verse 28

Call me Bath-sheba - She had gone out when Nathan came in, and he retired when she was re-admitted. Each had a separate audience, but to Nathan the king did not express any will.

Verse 33

Take with you the servants of your lord - By these we may understand the kings guards, the guards of the city, the Cherethites and Pelethites, who were under the command of Benaiah; and in short, all the disposable force that was at hand.Solomon - to ride upon mine own mule - No subject could use any thing that belonged to the prince, without forfeiting his life. As David offered Solomon to ride on his own mule, this was full evidence that he had appointed him his successor.

Verse 34

Blow ye with the trumpet - After he has been anointed, make proclamation that he is king.

Verse 36

Sit upon my throne - The matter of conducting a business of this kind seems to have been this:1. The king elect was placed on the mule of his predecessor, and caused to ride abroad to one of the public wells, or to a river where there was the greatest concourse of people, that they might see who he was that was appointed. Solomon was here taken to the river Gihon, in order to be anointed; the continual stream or constantly running fountain, denoting the perpetuity of the kingdom.2. The priest and the prophet anointed him in the name of the Lord; and thereby signified that he should be endued with all the kingly virtues; that he should reign by, under, and for the Lord.3. The trumpet was then to be blown, and solemn proclamation made, that he was anointed king.4. He was then brought and solemnly placed on the throne, to signify that he had now assumed the reins of government, and was about to administer justice and judgement to the people.

Verse 37

Make his throne greater than the throne of - David - A wish of this kind a king will suffer in behalf of his son, but it is never in ordinary cases considered a compliment to say, "I hope this child will make a better man than his father," because it seems to insinuate some reflections on his father's conduct or character. Many foolish people deal in such compliments, and they may rest assured, for the reasons given above, that they are far from being either welcome or agreeable.Claudian, in his panegyric De Quarto Consulatu Honorii Augusti, ver. 428, has words something similar to those of Benaiah, when he describes a father, worn out with toils and difficulties, committing the reins of government to the hands of his son: - Adspice, completur votum: jam natus adaequatTe meritis; et, quod magis est optabile, vincit.Even now thy son equals thee in worth;and what is still more desirable, surpasses thee.

Verse 39

Zadok - took a horn of oil - Pottery and glass were little in use in those times; and horns were frequently used to hold oil and wine. The oil used here was the holy anointing oil, which was laid up in the tabernacle, and which was used for the anointing of both priests and kings.

Verse 40

The people piped with pipes - They danced, sang, and played on what instruments of music they possessed.The earth rent - We use a similar expression in precisely the same sense: They rent the air with their cries.

Verse 43

Jonathan answered - He was properly a messenger about the court; we have met with him and Ahimaaz before, 2 Samuel 15:36 . He had now been an observer, if not a spy, on all that was doing, and relates the transactions to Adonijah, in the very order in which they took place.1. David has nominated Solomon his successor.2. Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah, have been appointed to set him on the king's mule.3. They have taken him to Gihon, and anointed him there.4. They have brought him up to Jerusalem and placed him on the throne of the kingdom.

Verse 47

Moreover, the king's servants came - The king himself was at this time confined to his own house, and probably to his bed, and could not possibly see these ceremonies; therefore his confidential servants came and told him. We know not how Jonathan, in so short a time, possessed himself of so much information.

Verse 50

Adonijah feared - He knew he had usurped the kingdom, and had not his father's consent; and, as he finds now that Solomon is appointed by David, he knows well that the people will immediately respect that appointment, and that his case is hopeless; he therefore took sanctuary, and, fleeing to the tabernacle, laid hold on one of the horns of the altar, as if appealing to the protection of God against the violence of men. The altar was a privileged place, and it was deemed sacrilege to molest a man who had taken refuge there. See 1 Kings 2:28 .

Verse 52

If he will show himself a worthy man - If, from henceforth, he behave well, show himself to be contented, and not endeavor to make partisans, or stir up insurrections among the people, he shall be safe; but if wickedness be found in him - if he act at all contrary to this - he shall die; his blood shall be upon him.

Verse 53

Go to thine house - Intimating that he should have no place about the king's person, nor under the government. Adonijah must have seen that he stood continually on his good behavior.Friar Bacon's method of restoring and strengthening the Natural HeatAll this covered and enigmatical description is intended simply to point out that very medicine recommended by the Jewish physicians to restore and invigorate the dying king. I could show the bearing of every sentence, but I must leave something to the good sense of my readers. By attending to the words in italics, the sense will be more easily discovered. See my note on Ruth 4:16 (note.

1 Kings 1


  1 Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
  2 Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat.
  3 So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
  4 And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
  5 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him.
  6 And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
  7 And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
  8 But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.
  9 And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants:
  10 But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
  11 Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?
  12 Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon.
  13 Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign?
  14 Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
  15 And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.
  16 And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
  17 And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne.
  18 And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:
  19 And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called.
  20 And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.
  21 Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.
  22 And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
  23 And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground.
  24 And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?
  25 For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Adonijah.
  26 But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.
  27 Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not shewed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?
  28 Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.
  29 And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
  30 Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.
  31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.
  32 And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king.
  33 The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon:
  34 And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.
  35 Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.
  36 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.
  37 As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David.
  38 So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon.
  39 And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.
  40 And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.
  41 And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar?
  42 And while he yet spake, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came: and Adonijah said unto him, Come in; for thou art a valiant man, and bringest good tidings.
  43 And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.
  44 And the king hath sent with him Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule:
  45 And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that ye have heard.
  46 And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.
  47 And moreover the king's servants came to bless our lord king David, saying, God make the name of Solomon better than thy name, and make his throne greater than thy throne. And the king bowed himself upon the bed.
  48 And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.
  49 And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
  50 And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
  51 And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, Let king Solomon swear unto me to day that he will not slay his servant with the sword.
  52 And Solomon said, If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.
  53 So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house.

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