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1Ki 1:1-4. ABISHAG CHERISHES DAVID IN HIS EXTREME AGE.
1, 2. Now king David was old--He was in the seventieth year of his age (2Sa 5:4, 5). But the wear and tear of a military life, bodily fatigue, and mental care, had prematurely, if we may say it, exhausted the energies of David's strong constitution (1Sa 16:12). In modern Palestine and Egypt the people, owing to the heat of the climate, sleep each in a "separate" bed. They only depart from this practice for medical reasons (Ec 4:11). The expedient recommended by David's physicians is the regimen still prescribed in similar cases in the East, particularly among the Arab population, not simply to give heat, but "to cherish," as they are aware that the inhalation of young breath will give new life and vigor to the worn-out frame. The fact of the health of the young and healthier person being, as it were, stolen to support that of the more aged and sickly is well established among the medical faculty. And hence the prescription for the aged king was made in a hygienic point of view for the prolongation of his valuable life, and not merely for the comfort to be derived from the natural warmth imparted to his withered frame [PORTER, Tent and Khan]. The polygamy of the age and country may account for the introduction of this practice; and it is evident that Abishag was made a concubine or secondary wife to David (see on 1Ki 2:22).
1Ki 1:5-31. ADONIJAH USURPS THE KINGDOM.
5, 6. Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself--Nothing is said as to the origin or rank of Haggith, so that it is probable she was not distinguished by family descent. Adonijah, though David's fourth son (2Sa 3:4; 1Ch 3:2), was now the oldest alive; and his personal attractions and manners (1Sa 9:2) not only recommended him to the leading men about court, but made him the favorite of his father, who, though seeing him assume an equipage becoming only the heir-presumptive to the throne (2Sa 15:1), said nothing; and his silence was considered by many, as well as by Adonijah, to be equivalent to an expression of consent. The sinking health of the king prompted him to take a decisive step in furtherance of his ambitious designs.
7. he conferred with Joab--The anxiety of Adonijah to secure the
influence of a leader so bold, enterprising, and popular with the army
was natural, and the accession of the hoary commander is easily
accounted for from his recent grudge at the king
8. But Zadok the priest--He had been high priest in the tabernacle
at Gibeon under Saul
David, on his accession, had conjoined him and Abiathar equal in the
exercise of their high functions
(2Sa 8:17; 15:24, 29, 35).
But it is extremely probable that some cause of jealousy or discord
between them had arisen, and hence each lent his countenance and
support to opposite parties.
9, 10. En-rogel--situated (Jos 15:7-10) east of Jerusalem, in a level place, just below the junction of the valley of Hinnom with that of Jehoshaphat. It is a very deep well, measuring one hundred twenty-five feet in depth; the water is sweet, but not very cold, and it is at times quite full to overflowing. The Orientals are fond of enjoying festive repasts in the open air at places which command the advantage of shade, water, and verdure; and those fetes champetres are not cold collations, but magnificent entertainments, the animals being killed and dressed on the spot. Adonijah's feast at En-rogel was one of this Oriental description, and it was on a large scale (2Sa 3:4, 5; 5:14-16; 1Ch 14:1-7). At the accession of a new king there were sacrifices offered (1Sa 11:15). But on such an occasion it was no less customary to entertain the grandees of the kingdom and even the populace in a public manner (1Ch 12:23-40). There is the strongest probability that Adonijah's feast was purely political, to court popularity and secure a party to support his claim to the crown.
11-27. Nathan spake unto Bath-sheba . . . let me . . . give thee counsel, &c.--The revolt was defeated by this prophet, who, knowing the Lord's will (2Sa 7:12; 1Ch 22:9), felt himself bound, in accordance with his character and office, to take the lead in seeing it executed. Hitherto the succession of the Hebrew monarchy had not been settled. The Lord had reserved to Himself the right of nomination (De 17:15), which was acted upon in the appointments both of Saul and David; and in the case of the latter the rule was so far modified that his posterity were guaranteed the perpetual possession of the sovereignty (2Sa 7:12). This divine purpose was known throughout the kingdom; but no intimation had been made as to whether the right of inheritance was to belong to the oldest son. Adonijah, in common with the people generally, expected that this natural arrangement should be followed in the Hebrew kingdom as in all others. Nathan, who was aware of the old king's solemn promise to Solomon, and, moreover, that this promise was sanctioned by the divine will, saw that no time was to be lost. Fearing the effects of too sudden excitement in the king's feeble state, he arranged that Bath-sheba should go first to inform him of what was being transacted without the walls, and that he himself should follow to confirm her statement. The narrative here not only exhibits the vivid picture of a scene within the interior of a palace, but gives the impression that a great deal of Oriental state ceremonial had been established in the Hebrew court.
20. the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne--When the kings died without declaring their will, then their oldest son succeeded. But frequently they designated long before their death which of their sons should inherit the throne. The kings of Persia, as well as of other Eastern countries, have exercised the same right in modern and even recent times.
21. I and my son . . . shall be counted offenders--that is, slain, according to the barbarous usage of the East towards all who are rivals to the throne.
28-31. Then king David answered and said, Call me Bath-sheba--He renews to her the solemn pledge he had given, in terms of solemnity and impressiveness which show that the aged monarch had roused himself to the duty the emergency called for.
1Ki 1:32-49. SOLOMON, BY DAVID'S APPOINTMENT, IS ANOINTED KING.
33. cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule--Directions were
forthwith given for the immediate coronation of Solomon. A procession
was to be formed by the "servants of their lord"--that is, the king's
bodyguard. Mules were then used by all the princes
but there was a state mule of which all subjects were forbidden, under
pain of death, to make use, without special permission; so that its
being granted to Solomon was a public declaration in his favor as the
future king (see on
Es 6:8, 9).
35. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne--The public recognition of the successor to the throne, during the old king's lifetime, is accordant with the customs of the East.
40. all the people came up after him--that is, from the valley to the citadel of Zion.
41-49. Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating--The loud shouts raised by the populace at the joyous proclamation at Gihon, and echoed by assembled thousands, from Zion to En-rogel, were easily heard at that distance by Adonijah and his confederates. The arrival of a trusty messenger, who gave a full detail of the coronation ceremony [1Ki 1:43-48], spread dismay in their camp. The wicked and ambitious plot they had assembled to execute was dissipated, and every one of the conspirators consulted his safety by flight.
1Ki 1:50-53. ADONIJAH, FLEEING TO THE HORNS OF THE ALTAR, IS DISMISSED BY SOLOMON.
50-53. Adonijah . . . went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar--most probably the altar of burnt offering which had been erected on Mount Zion, where Abiathar, one of his partisans, presided as high priest. The horns or projections at the four corners of the altar, to which the sacrifices were bound, and which were tipped with the blood of the victim, were symbols of grace and salvation to the sinner. Hence the altar was regarded as a sanctuary (Ex 21:14), but not to murderers, rebels, or deliberate perpetrators. Adonijah, having acted in opposition to the will of the reigning king, was guilty of rebellion, and stood self-condemned. Solomon spared his life on the express condition of his good behavior--living in strict privacy, leading a quiet, peaceable life, and meddling with the affairs of neither the court nor the kingdom.
53. they brought him down from the altar--from the ledge around the
altar on which he was standing.