1 Kings 1
Benson Commentary
Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
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?”]

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.
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.

So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
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.

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.
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.

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.
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.

And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
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.
1 Kings 1:8-10. The mighty men were not with Adonijah — That is, those named 2 Samuel 23., 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.

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:
But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
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?
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.

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.
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?
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.

Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.
And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
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.
And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:
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.
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.

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.
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.
And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
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.
And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?
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.
But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.
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.

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?
Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.
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.

And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
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.
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.
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.

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.
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:
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.,) 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.

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.
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, Psalm 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.”

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.
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.

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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?
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.
And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.
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:
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.
And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.
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.

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.
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.
And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
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.

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.
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.
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.

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.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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