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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 1

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-27

Adonijah Attempts to Seize the Kingdom

v. 1. Now, King David was old and stricken in years, advanced in days, being about seventy years old at that time; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. The extraordinary cares and overexertions of his earlier years had sapped his strength and weakened his resistance, so that his blood no longer had the power to warm him; his vital powers were so chilled and enfeebled that the thickest of covers did not give him warmth.

v. 2. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin, literally, "a young woman, a virgin," and let her stand before the king, as a servant and nurse, and let her cherish him, be his constant attendant, and let her lie in thy bosom, this manner of warming chilled and enfeebled bodies by contact with young, vigorous, full-blooded bodies being advocated in ancient times, that my lord the king may get heat. This was the only object of this arrangement, which must be looked upon from the standpoint of the time, when polygamy, especially in the case of kings, was altogether in order.

v. 3. So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag, a Shunammite, of Shunem, a city in the Plain of Jezreel, near the foot of the Little Hermon, and brought her to the king, her relation to him being looked upon as that of a wife.

v. 4. And the damsel was very fair, exceedingly beautiful, and cherished the king, she was his nurse and attendant, and ministered to him; but the king knew her not, did not enter into the usual marital relations with her. This remark serves to make clear how it was possible afterwards for Adonijah to seek Abishag for his wife.

v. 5. Then Adonijah, the son of Haggith, exalted himself, saying, I will be king. Amnon having been murdered, Chileab, or Daniel, having apparently died in childhood, and Absalom having perished in the insurrection begun by him, Adonijah believed himself to be the rightful claimant to the throne. And he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him, to be his body-guard, all in an overexaltation which did not become him. Cf 2 Samuel 16:1.

v. 6. And his father had not displeased him at any time, had never rebuked him for this show of ambition during his whole life, this being another indication of David's weakness toward his children, in saying, Why hast thou done so? This indulgence had encouraged Adonijah very considerably. And he also was a very goodly man, very handsome in appearance and bearing; and his mother bare him after Absalom, after the latter had been born of Maachah.

v. 7. And he conferred with Joab, the son of Zeruiah, in order to win over the army through its commander-in-chief, and with Abiathar, the priest, the high priest who was stationed at Jerusalem; and they, following Adonijah, helped him, the latter probably out of jealousy on account of Zadok's position.

v. 8. But Zadok, the priest, the high priest, stationed at Gibeon, 1 Chronicles 16:39, and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, the captain of the king's body-guard, and Nathan, the prophet, and Shimei, 1 Kings 4:18, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, the corps of David's heroes, 2 Samuel 23:8-9, were not with Adonijah.

v. 9. And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle, in preparing a great sacrificial feast, by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En-rogel, a well southeast of Jerusalem, at the junction of the Valley of Hinnom with that of Jehoshaphat, and called all his brethren, the king's sons, and all the men of Judah, the king's servants, all those who had positions at court;

v. 10. but Nathan, the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, whom he had not been able to interest, and Solomon, his brother, he called not, he purposely omitted him from the invitation, since he was informed of David's plans for his successor, and his design was to render null the purpose of his father and to possess himself of the throne.

v. 11. Wherefore Nathan, who wanted to prevent a repetition of the history of Absalom, spake unto Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, doth reign, that he had practically usurped the royal power, and David, our lord, knoweth it not? David was, for obvious reasons, ignorant of the plans of Adonijah.

v. 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, for according to Oriental custom the opposing pretenders to the crown, together with their nearest relatives, were put to death by him who forcibly seized the throne.

v. 13. Go and get thee in unto King David, with whom she, his favorite wife, still had great influence, 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? The plan was to arouse David's mind to the danger of the situation.

v. 14. Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, to follow up the effect of the first announcement, and confirm thy words, by making the same statements and thus inciting the king to action.

v. 15. And Bathsheba went in unto the king, into the chamber, for the aged king could no longer leave his apartments; and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king, who needed constant nursing and attention.

v. 16. And Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou? literally, "What to thee?" What bothers or worries thee?

v. 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.

v. 18. And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth, he was even now usurping the royal authority; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not. Note the vividness of Bathsheba's speech.

v. 19. And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, invited them to a sacrificial meal, and Abiathar, the priest, and Joab, the captain of the host; but Solomon, thy servant, hath he not called.

v. 20. And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, the decision rested with David alone, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him, they were all anxiously awaiting an official declaration.

v. 21. Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, in the sleep awaiting the great day of resurrection, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders, treated as traitors and offenders guilty of death for having aspired to the throne unlawfully.

v. 22. And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan, the prophet, who had carefully watched his opportunity, also came in.

v. 23. And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan, the prophet; his name was announced to the king. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground, while Bathsheba retired from the king's presence.

v. 24. And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? It was a direct challenge, which conveyed a slight reproach to David.

v. 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, of the regular army, and Abiathar, the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him and say, God save King Adonijah! literally, "May King Adonijah live!"

v. 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. Every movement of Adonijah showed his hostile sentiment toward the friends of the king.

v. 27. Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not showed it unto thy servant who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him? It was not wounded vanity which was here speaking, but honest doubt, which was sure that the king would not have sanctioned such a move in secret. Note: In the kingdom of Christ also men arise who would usurp the rule of Christ, false Christs, false prophets; and it is a sad fact that so many who call themselves Christians yield to their blandishments and forsake the truth of the Gospel.

Verses 28-40

Solomon Anointed King

v. 28. Then King David, now thoroughly aroused to the danger of the situation, answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence and stood before the king, awaiting his pleasure.

v. 29. And the king sware, with a very solemn oath, and said, As the Lord liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, giving David evidence of His mercy and truth in so many great dangers, for which reason this word of praise was all the more appropriate,

v. 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. He was evidently deeply moved, and saw the necessity for quick and decisive action.

v. 31. Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord, King David, live forever. It was an expression of her heartfelt gratitude.

v. 32. And King David said, Call me Zadok, the priest, and Nathan, the prophet, who had also retired from the king's presence after his interview, and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. David now showed that he was still strong in mind and will in spite of his bodily weakness.

v. 33. The king also said unto them, they were to act as his representatives in the matter which he had in mind, Take with you the servants of your lord, the king's own body-guard, and cause Solomon, my son, to ride upon mine own mule, this being an actual declaration that the latter was king, and bring him down to Gihon, a place west of Jerusalem, with a spring of water which fed two reservoirs,

v. 34. and let Zadok, the priest, and Nathan, the prophet, anoint him there king over Israel, the investiture being emphasized as taking place by divine right; and blow ye with the trumpet, as was done on solemn occasions, and say, God save King Solomon!

v. 35. Then ye shall come up after him, in a procession befitting the importance of the occasion, 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, over the united nation, as David had twice consolidated the tribes.

v. 36. And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, upon whom rested the responsibility for the outward arrangements, answered the king and said, Amen; the Lord God of my lord the king say so too, a prayer that God might permanently establish the throne of Solomon as the successor of David.

v. 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, since this growth and establishment depended upon the gracious blessing of Jehovah.

v. 38. So Zadok, the priest, and Nathan, the prophet, and Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, the body-guard of the king, went down, according to David's command, and caused Solomon to ride upon King David's mule, and brought him to Gihon.

v. 39. And Zadok, the priest, took an horn of oil out of the Tabernacle, for the oil of holy ointment was kept in the tent in which the Ark of the Covenant was stationed, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save King Solomon!

v. 40. And all the people came up after him, full of happiness over David's decision, and the people piped with pipes, flutes being used on festival occasions, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent, resounding mightily, with the sound of them. The anointing of Solomon is a type of the anointing of that greater Son of David, Jesus Christ, whom the Lord has set as His King on His holy hill Zion.

Verses 41-53

Adonijah's Life Spared

v. 41. And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating, for the noise sounded down from Zion as far as their place of assembly. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, knowing the significance of its signals, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar? What is the meaning of this sound of warlike noises?

v. 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, reliable, man and bringest good tidings. He had been left behind in the city to serve as messenger, to bring the report of anything which he might observe.

v. 43. And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily, literally, "true indeed," but our lord, King David, hath made Solomon king.

v. 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;

v. 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, with joyful excitement. This is the noise that ye have heard.

v. 46. And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom, established and accepted as rightful king.

v. 47. And moreover, the king's servants, represented by Benaiah, 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, he arose from his lying posture and bent forward as far as he could, in an attitude of prayer.

v. 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. Cf Genesis 47:31.

v. 49. And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, every added statement served to make their messenger's report more unwelcome to the conspirators, and rose up, and went every man his way.

v. 50. And Adonijah, the chief conspirator, feared because of Solomon, and arose, having been abandoned by his panic-stricken followers, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar, for this was considered a place of refuge, since his action signified that he appealed to the pardoning power and grace of Jehovah.

v. 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. He was in a panic lest he receive the reward of his transgression.

v. 52. And Solomon said, if he will show himself a worthy man, honorable and trustworthy, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth, he would not be harmed; but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die, another crime of a similar nature would cost him his life.

v. 53. So King Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. "Solomon regarded Adonijah's flight to the horns of the altar as a confession of his guilt and repentance, and he exercised an act of clemency which could only produce the most favorable impression upon the people. " (Lange. ) And he came and bowed himself to King Solomon, acknowledging him as rightful king; and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house. He was granted life and freedom. Note: All those who have left the kingdom of Christ, but return to Him while the-time of grace is still upon them, will not be cast out by Him; for with Him there is mercy and forgiveness.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-kings-1.html. 1921-23.
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