1 Kings 1
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
Abishag cherisheth David in his extreme age, 1Ki 1:1-4. Adonijah usurpeth the kingdom, 1Ki 1:5-10. By the counsel of Nathan to Bath-sheba, and their petition to David, he reneweth his oath of making Solomon king after him, 1Ki 1:11-31. He, by David's appointment, is anointed king; the people triumph, 1Ki 1:32-40. Adonijah hearing this, his guests flee, and himself fleeth to the horns of the altar; is pardoned by Solomon, and sent to his own house, 1Ki 1:41-53.

Stricken in years; Being in the end of his seventieth year. He gat no heat; which is not strange in a person not only of so great an age, but also 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. See Pro 17:22. Besides, this might be from the nature of his disease, or bodily distemper.

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.
His servants; his physicians.

A young virgin; whose natural heat is fresh and wholesome, and not impaired with bearing or breeding of children. The same counsel doth Galen give for the cure of some cold and dry distempers.

Let her stand before the king, i.e. minister unto him, or wait upon him, (as this phrase is oft used,) in his sickness, as occasion requires. Let her lie in thy bosom, as his wife or concubine; for that she was so may appear by divers arguments. First, Otherwise this had been a wicked counsel and course; which therefore neither his servants durst have prescribed, nor would David have used, especially being now in a dying condition. And seeing this was easily prevented by his taking her for his concubine, which then was esteemed allowable, it is absurd to think that he would not choose the safer way. Secondly, That passage, 1 Kings 1:4,

but the king knew her not, implies that the king might have had carnal knowledge of her without sin or scandal. Thirdly, it appears from this phrase of

lying in his bosom, which is every where in Scripture mentioned as the privilege of a wife and concubine, as Genesis 16:5 Deu 13:6 2 Samuel 12:8 Micah 7:5. Fourthly, This made Adonijah’s crime, in desiring her to wife, so heinous in Solomon’s account, because he wisely saw, that by marrying the king’s wife he designed to revive his pretence to the kingdom, at least in case of Solomon’s death; which pretence had been ridiculous, if she had been only the king’s handmaid.

So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
A fair damsel; whose beauty might engage his affections, and refresh his spirits, and invite him to those embraces which might communicate some of her natural heat to him, as was designed.

A Shunammite, of the city of Shunem in Issachar, Joshua 19:18. See 2 Kings 4:8.

And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
Which is mentioned to note the continuance and progress of the king’s malady, and the ground of Adonijah’s rebellion, and of his following request, 1 Kings 2:17.

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.
Then, on notice of the desperateness of the king’s disease, and the approach of his death,

Adonijah the son of Haggith {see 2 Samuel 3:4} exalted himself; entertained high thoughts and designs.

I will be king; as the right of the kingdom is mine, 1 Kings 1:6, so I will now take possession of it, lest, Solomon attempt to deprive me of it.

He prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him, as Absalom had done upon the like occasion, 2 Samuel 15:1; such ill use did he make of that example, that he committed the same wickedness which he had done, and yet feared not the same disappointment and destruction which he brought upon himself.

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.
His father had not displeased him at any time: this is noted as David’s great error, and the occasion of Adonijah’s presumption. Why hast thou done so? he neither restrained him from, nor reproved him for his miscarriages; which was a great sin against that plain law, Leviticus 19:17, and severely punished in Eli, which David was not ignorant of, except Adonijah’s errors were small, or concealed from David.

He also: this particle relates, either, first, To Absalom here following, who also was a goodly man. Or rather, secondly, To what goes before, to signify that this was a second ground of his confidence, because his great comeliness made him amiable in the people’s eyes, as his father’s indulgence was the first.

After Absalom, i. e. next after Absalom was born of his mother: see 2 Samuel 3:3,4.

And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
Either because they thought the right of the crown was his; or rather, from secret grudges, because they perceived themselves neglected by David, and possibly by Solomon too; and from carnal policy, that they might secure and advance their own interest, which they saw to be in manifest danger.

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.
His great and famous commanders, and the guards and soldiers under them.

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:
Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle; partly for a sacrifice; and partly for feasts, that he might engage God to be on his side, and draw a multitude of people after him.

By En-rogel, or, the fountain of Rogel, or, of the fuller; a place nigh to Jerusalem: see Joshua 15:7 18:16 2 Samuel 17:17.

Called all his brethren the king’s sons; either because he knew they envied and were discontented with Solomon, and therefore would favour him; or that he might engage them so to do.

All the men of Judah the king’s servants; except these here excepted, 1 Kings 1:10.

But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
Because he knew they favoured Solomon his competitor.

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?
Nathan was prompted to this both by his piety in fulfilling the will of God declared to him, and by him to David, concerning Solomon’s succession, 2 Samuel 7:13 1 Chronicles 22:8,9; and by his prudence, as knowing that Adonijah hated him for being the principal instrument of Solomon’s advancement. Bath-sheba being retired and private in her apartment, was yet ignorant of what was done abroad; and she was likely to be most zealous in the cause, and most prevalent with David.

David our lord knoweth it not; so far is he from consenting to it, as thou mayest fear or others think, that they have not yet acquainted him with it.

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 he will never reckon himself safe till his competitor and his friends be taken out of the way.

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?
Didst not thou swear, i.e. Thou didst swear; which David himself owneth, 1 Kings 1:30, which probably he did to satisfy Bath-sheba’s doubts and fears about it, and to oblige himself to a compliance with the Divine will declared about it. See 1 Kings 2:15 1 Chronicles 28:5. Thine handmaid; so she calleth herself, to testify her reverence and subjection to him, not only as her husband, but as her king.

He shall sit upon my throne; another expression of the same thing, to signify David’s sincerity and fervency in his swearing, which adds to his obligation.

Why then doth Adonijah reign? how comes this to pass? or why dost thou suffer it?

Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Thou swarest by the Lord thy God; to whom thou art highly obliged, whose name thou justly fearest and honourest; and therefore thou wilt not pollute it by perjury, but make conscience of thy oath.

And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:
This she adds, partly lest she should seem to accuse the king of inconstancy and perfidiousness; and partly to aggravate Adonijah’s crime, from that gross neglect and contempt of the king which did accompany it.

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.
Who is not so presumptuous as Adonijah, usurping the throne before his time; but carries himself modestly and submissively, as thy son, and servant, and subject.

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.
The eyes of all Israel are upon thee; the generality of the people are in suspense, whether Adonijah’s practices be with thy consent or no, and wait for thy sentence, which they will readily embrace.

Who shall sit upon the throne of my lord the king; she speaks only in general, as owning my king’s prerogative to give the crown to which of his sons he pleased, if he had not restrained himself by his oath to Solomon.

After him, i.e. after thy death; whereby she taxeth Adonijah’s ambition, who usurped the crown whilst his father lived.

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.
Shall sleep with his fathers, i.e. die as his fathers did. See Genesis 47:30.

I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders; we shall be punished with death as malefactors, as guilty of practicing against the right heir of the crown, and transferring the kingdom to Solomon, and covering our ambitious designs with a pretence of religion.

And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
To discourse with the king; which made it fit for her to withdraw, as she did, 1 Kings 1:28.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?
Is this done by thy consent? without which it seems strange that he durst attempt it.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.
Even me thy servant, 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 privity; which now I come to know.

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?
Thou hast not showed it unto thy servant; who, having been an instrument in delivering God’s message to thee concerning thy successor, might reasonably expect that if the king had changed his mind, or God had since made some revelation contrary to the former, thou wouldst have acquainted me with it, as being both a prophet of the Lord, and one whom thou hast always found faithful to thee, and to whom thou hast used to communicate thy secret counsels.

Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.
Call me Bath-sheba; who, upon Nathan’s approach to the king, had modestly withdrawn herself, either in another room, or into another part of this room, more remote from the bed upon which David lay.

And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
i.e. For a long time, as that word is oft used, as 1 Kings 2:33 Daniel 2:4. 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 for his advancement, and should rather rejoice, if it were possible for thee to live and enjoy thy crown for ever.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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:
The servants of your Lord, i.e. my public officers, and my guards.

To ride upon mine own mule; as a token that the royal dignity is transferred upon Solomon, and that by my consent. Compare Genesis 41:43 Esther 6:8.

To Gihon; a river near Jerusalem, on the west side, as may be gathered from 2 Chronicles 32:30, as En-rogel, where Adonijah was inaugurated, was on the east side. This place David chose, either as remote from Adonijah and his company, that so the people might go thither, and be there without fear of tumults or bloodshed; or to show that Solomon was chosen king in opposition to Adonijah; or because this was a place of great resort, and fit to receive and display that numerous company which he knew would follow Solomon thither; or that he might from thence return and make the more magnificent entrance into the city.

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.
Anoint him there king; as they used to do where there was any thing new, or doubtful, or extraordinary in the succession, as 1 Samuel 10:1 16:12,13 1 Kings 19:15,16 2 Kings 9:3. And this unction signified both the designation of the persons to the office, and the gifts and graces which were necessary for their office, and which they, seeking them sincerely from God, might expect to receive.

Blow ye with the trumpet; to make the action more solemn, and glorious, and public.

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.
King in my stead; my deputy and vice-king whilst I live, and absolutely king when I die. Or if David and Solomon were joint kings, it is no more than was afterwards frequent at Rome, where the father and son, or two other persons, were not seldom joint emperors.

I have appointed, and that by Divine direction.

And over Judah: this is added, partly as being the most eminent and royal tribe; it being frequent, together with the general distinction, to mention one of the most eminent particulars, as 1 Kings 11:1 Psalm 18:1 Mark 16:7; and partly lest the men of Judah, who were in a special manner invited by Adonijah, 1 Kings 1:9, might think themselves exempted from his jurisdiction.

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.
Amen; which was both an approbation of the king’s fact, and a profession of his allegiance to the new king, and a petition to God to ratify and confirm it.

The Lord God of my lord the king say so too; the Lord stablish Solomon’s throne in spite of Adonijah, and all his other enemies.

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.
Which petition, albeit it might have offended an unworthy, vain-glorious, and envious father, he knew would be welcome to so pious and generous a man as David was, and to one so kind and indulgent to his children.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Zadok the priest; for though he was not the high priest, he might do this office, especially having the direction of the prophet Nathan, 1 Kings 1:34.

Out of the tabernacle; that which David had erected for the ark, 2 Samuel 6:17, in which oil was kept for divers sacred uses; for Moses’s tabernacle was at Gibeon, 1 Chronicles 16:39 21:29, which was too remote for the present occasion, which required all possible expedition.

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.
All the people came up after him; which flocked in of so thither abundance; some out of curiosity to see so solemn an action; others to do their duty; and others in expectation some advantage by their cheerful attendance upon the new king.

Rejoiced with great joy; partly because this would certainly prevent civil wars, under which they had lately and so sorely groaned, and which they had reason to fear from Adonijah’s pretence to the crown, and the assistance he might have from the great and famous lord-general Joab, and from Abiathar the high priest, and from others who were or might easily be engaged for him, if David had not ended the controversy in his lifetime; and partly because of the singular wisdom and virtue for which Solomon was even then famous. See 1 Kings 2:6,9. The earth rent; an hyperbolical expression; yet even solid bodies have been oft broken and rent by great sounds.

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?
As they had made an end of eating; for Nathan having given wise counsel, took all due care to expedite the execution of it, that it might not be spoiled by delays, as frequently happens.

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.
Jonathan it seems was left at Jerusalem for a spy, as he had formerly been under Absalom.

Thou art a valiant man; or,

a man of virtue or worth, as this Hebrew word is used, Proverbs 12:4; and therefore a happy man, and hast good news for thyself and us. Compare 2 Samuel 18:27.

And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.
Verily, or, but, or, nay but, i.e. the matter is not as thou expectest, but quite contrary.

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:
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.
i.e. Is put into actual possession of the kingdom.

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.
To bless our lord king David; to praise and thank him for his great and good care, in leaving them in the hands of so excellent a successor, under whom they might expect peace and all prosperity; and to congratulate with him for God’s great mercy to him, in giving him such a son and successor, and that his eyes had now seen the actual accomplishment of God’s promise made to him concerning this thing.

The king bowed himself upon the bed; adoring God for this great mercy, and thereby declaring his hearty approbation and consent to this action. Compare Genesis 47:31.

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.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
i.e. The way to his own house, lest they should be discovered and taken.

And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
Either that which was at Gibeon, as appears from 1 Chronicles 16:39 2 Chronicles 1:3; and was made with four horns, Exodus 38:2; to which the sacrifices were bound Psalm 118:27. Or rather, that which set David had lately up in the threshing-floor of Araunah, which doubtless was made after the same form as that at Gibeon; for, first, This was next at hand. Secondly, The altar only is mentioned here, whereas in Joab’s case there is mention of the tabernacle and altar both, 1 Kings 2:28,29, which seems to be noted to distinguish the two altars; for Adonijah being the king’s son, he might safely go to Araunah’s altar, and the people would not be forward to seize upon him, or bring him to justice: but Joab truly thought it was not safe for him to venture himself there, and therefore he fleeth to Gibeon, as a place more remote from Jerusalem. Hither he fled, either to implore God’s mercy; or rather, to avoid Solomon’s rage; supposing that his reverence to that sacred place would not permit him to pollute it with his brother’s blood; or that the consideration of God’s grace and mercy, which himself needed and begged of God, in pardoning his offences, and accepting the sacrifices which he should offer there, would engage and dispose him to show mercy to his offending and now penitent brother; or that his piety would not allow him violently to pluck him as it were out of the arms of God, into which he had put himself. And for these or such-like reasons the altar was esteemed a kind of sanctuary or place of refuge, not only among the Gentiles, but also among the Hebrews, though it be not called by that name, as may be gathered from Exodus 21:14 1 Kings 2:28.

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 owns Solomon as his king, and himself as his servant and subject; and being sensible of his great guilt, and of the jealousy which kings have of their competitors, could not be satisfied without Solomon’s oath.

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.
A worthy man, Heb. a man of strength or courage; for it requires great strength of mind and resolution to resist all temptations of vice, and to do virtuously.

There shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: herein Solomon manifests his clemency and brotherly affection, and withal his prudence in sparing him, whom, being his brother, and his eldest brother too, it would have been invidious to have slain.

If wickedness shall be found in him; not only if he shall be guilty of some capital crime, but of any great wickedness or evil design; for as this pardon was Solomon’s free act, so he might justly qualify it as he pleased.

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.
Lead a private or retired and quiet life, without noise and numerous attendants, and meddle not with the affairs of the court and kingdom.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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