I Kings 1

 

I and II Kings were originally one work.  The two books embrace a period

of four and a half centuries; from the ascension of Solomon to the throne

in 1015 B. C. to the close of the captivity of Jehoiachin in 562 B. C.

 

It must be remembered, however, that the history of the kings of the

chosen people will necessarily have a different character and a different

design from the chronicles of all other reigns and dynasties; it will, in fact,

be such history as a pious Jew would naturally write. Such a one, even

without the guidance of Inspiration, would inevitably view all the events in

the history both of his own and of neighboring nations, not so much in

their secular or purely historical as in their religious aspect. His firm belief

in a particular Providence superintending the affairs of men, and requiting

them according to their deserts by temporal rewards and punishments,

would alone give a stamp and color to his narrative very different from

that of the profane historian. But when we remember that the historians of

Israel were in every case prophets  (There is evidence to suggest that

Jeremiah was the author);  that is, that they were the advocates

and spokesmenf7 of the Most High, we may be quite sure that history in

their hands will have a “purpose,” and that they will write with a distinctly

religious aim. Such was assuredly the case with the author of the KINGS.

His is an ecclesiastical or theocratic rather than a civil history. The different

kings, consequently, are portrayed not so much in their relations to their

subjects, or to other nations, as to the InvisibleRuler of Israel, whose

representatives they were, whose religion they were charged to uphold,

and of whose holy law they were the executors. This explains the

constant references to the Pentateuch, (first five books of the Bible) and to the

previous history of the race (chps. 2:3; 3:14; 6:11-13; 8:56, etc.; II Kings 10:31;

14:6; 17:13-15, 37; 18:4-6, etc.), and the constant comparison of the successive

monarchs with the king “after God’s own heart” (chps. 11:4 of Solomon;

38 [and this to Jeroboam]; 14:8 {Rehoboam}; 15:3 of Jeroboam,11 of Asa  etc.),

and their judgment by the standard of the Mosaic law (chps. 3:14; 6:11-12;

8:56, etc.) The object of the historian clearly was, not to chronicle the naked facts

of Jewish history, but to show how the rise, the glories, the decline and the fall

of the Hebrew kingdoms were respectively the results of the piety and

faithfulness or of the irreligion and idolatry of the DIFFERENT KINGS and

their SUBJECTS.  Writing during the captivity, he would teach his countrymen

how all the miseries which had come upon them (ch. 22:25), miseries which had

culminated in the destruction of their temple, the overthrow of their monarchy,

and their own transportation from the land of their forefathers, were

the JUDGMENTS OF GOD  upon their SINS  and the FRUITS  of the

NATIONAL APOSTASY.  He would trace, too, the fulfillment, through

successive generations, of the great promise of II Samuel 7:12-16,

the charter of the house of David, on which promise indeed the history (to this

day – CY – 2010) is a continuous and striking commentary. True to his mission

as the Divine ambassador, he would teach them everywhere to see the finger

of God in their nation’s history, (this same influence can be traced in the rise,

development, current decline and eventual  fall, of the United States of America

 – CY – 2010) and by the record of incontrovertible facts, (compare the recent

attempts to rewrite American History – CY – 2010) and especially by showing

the fulfillment of the promises and threatenings of the Law, he would preach

a return to the faith and morals of a purer age, and would urge “his

contemporaries, living in exile with him, to cling  faithfully to the covenant

made by God through Moses, and to honor steadfastly the

THE ONE TRUE GOD! 

 

Earlier, we referred to the prophets as the historians of the Jewish people.

It was almost as essential a part of their office to trace the hand of God

in the past history of the Hebrew race as to predict future visitations,

or to promise deliverances.  They were preachers of righteousness,

spokesmen for God, interpreters of His just laws and dealings, and to be

this they only needed to be faithful and impartial historians.

 

 

            The Revolt of Adonijah and the Accession of Solomon (vs. 1-53)

 

(This is a general synoposis of the chapter and it is recommended to read the

chapter and refer to it often while trying to ingest the meaning.  – CY – 2010)

 

The first chapter of this book is occupied with the accession of Solomon and with

the circumstances which preceded, marked, and followed that event. The author,

or compiler, evidently considered that his work properly began with the reign of

Israel’s third king, and David’s illness and death are only introduced into the

narrative because they necessitated a hasty and premature coronation of Solomon,

and exercised an important influence on the beginning of his reign (ch. 2). In the

natural order of events, Solomon would not have succeeded until his father’s death,

but Adonijah’s attempt to possess himself of the kingdom required the immediate

elevation of Solomon to the throne, and this attempt having been suggested by

David’s extreme feebleness, the author is compelled to begin his history with an

account of David’s decay and death.

 

 

            The Account of David’s Decay and Death (vs. 1-4)

 

1  “Now king David was old and stricken in years, and they covered

him with clothes, but he gat no heat” – a common experience of the aged. 

David’s early hardships and later sorrows and anxieties appear to have aged him

prematurely although he is around 70 here.  Perhaps he was also afflicted with disease. 

(Compare what the Scripture says of Moses at age 120 when he died. (Deuteronomy 34:7)

 

Here we enter the privacy of a sick room.  We think of David, the shepherd boy,

the warrior - now he is old, senile, a king who needs nursing care, albeit of a royal

nature.  Stretched upon a couch, covered with many folds of rich Eastern

drapery, we see a feeble, decrepit, attenuated man. At his side stands a fair

young girl, assiduously ministering to his wants.

 

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.” -  “Wherefore his servants”

according to Josephus (Antiq. vii. 14, 3) his physicians – recommended procuring  

“a young virgin…a fair damsel ….. Abishag a Shunammite,” by name.  From time

to time the door opens, and prophet, priest, and warrior enter to receive his instructions;

for happily the mind is not a wreck like the body. Its vigor is hardly abated, though the

bodily strength is well nigh exhausted. He has but reached the appointed threescore years

and ten, and yet — such have been the hardships of his life — the vital force is spent.

They cover him with clothes, but he gets no heat. The flame of life is slowly but surely

expiring. But we see at once that this is no ordinary room; that this is no

common patient. The gorgeous apparel, the purple and fine linen, the

“attendance of ministers, the standing of servants,” proclaim it a king’s

court. And the insignia, the pomp, the profound homage proclaim that this

sick man is a king. Yes, it is David, second king of Israel, but second to

none in goodness and true greatness, who lies here. His checkered life, so

full of romance, of chivalry, of piety, is drawing near its close. But the hour

of death is preceded by a period of feebleness and decay. For sickness is no

respecter of persons. It, too, like death, “thunders at the palace gates of

kings and the dwellings of the poor.” There is no release in that war,

 

            Sceptre and crown must tumble down,

            And in the dust be equal made

            With the poor common scythe and spade.”

 

The sickness of David, then, may fittingly suggest some thoughts as to

sickness in general. What, let us ask, is its purpose, what its uses? Why is it

that, as a rule, a period of gradual decay precedes death? For it is worthy

of remark that man alone, of all the animals, dies of disease. Among all the

myriad forms of life, that is, he alone dies gradually. The lower animals, as

a rule, prey upon each other. Beasts, birds, fishes, insects, all die a violent

death. No sooner is one of them attacked by sickness, or enfeebled by old

age, than it is dispatched and devoured by its fellows. It is thus the balance

of the species is preserved. But in the case of men, sudden death is the

exception. For them there remains, as a rule, a discipline of pain prior to

dissolution. It is well to ask why this is. The general answer is, of course,

obvious. It is because of that other life, that future reckoning which awaits

men after death. Let us consider, however, in what ways sickness and pain

are a preparation for the life and the judgment to come.

 

  • SICKNESS IS GOD’S NOTICE TO QUIT. We should think it hard to

            be ejected from our home and turned into the street without due notice.

            We want a little time to make preparations. Especially is this the case when

            we are leaving our earthly tabernacle — leaving not a home, but a world.

            Now God has given us abundant and repeated notice in the various

            accidents and occurrences of life. Too often, however, both the lessons of

            Providence and the warnings of the preacher are unheeded. So the Lover

            of souls will give men a final warning, and one that they cannot mistake,

            cannot well disregard. They shall feel it in their own persons. Sickness shall

            bid them set their house in order and prepare to meet their God. A German

            fable tells us that once upon a time Death promised a young man that he

            would not summon him until he had first sent several messengers to

            apprize him of his coming. So the youth took his fill of pleasure, and

            wasted health and strength in riotous living. Presently, a fever laid him low.

            But as no messenger had appeared, he had no apprehensions; and when he

            recovered, he returned forthwith to his former sins. (II Peter 2:22) –

            He then fell a prey to other maladies, but, remembering his covenant with

Death, made light of them. “I am not going to die,” he cried; “the first

messenger has not yet come.” But one day someone tapped him on the

shoulder. He turned, and saw Death standing at his elbow. “Follow me.

said the King of Terrors; “the hour of thy departure is come.” “How is this?”

exclaimed the youth; “thou art false to thy word! Thou didst promise to send

me messengers, and I have seen none.” “Silence!” sternly answered the

Destroyer.  “I have sent thee messenger after messenger. What was the fever?

What was the apoplexy? What was each sickness that befell thee? Each was

my herald; each was my messenger.” Yes, the first use of sickness is to remind

men of death. And how much they need that reminder we may learn from the

case of David. He had long been familiar with death, he was no stranger to “the

            imminent deadly breach,” had known many “hairbreadth escapes,” and

            often there had been “but a step between his soul and death” (I Samuel 20:3).

            Nay, he had once seen the Destroyer himself, seen him standing with his

            drawn sword ready to smite (II Samuel 24:16).  And yet the man who

            had faced death, who had long carried his life in his hand, receives a final

            warning ere its close. That sickness, perhaps, first brought home to him his

            mortality, first cried to him, “Thus saith the LORD GOD, Remove the

            diadem and take off the crown” (Ezekiel 21:26). But

 

  • SICKNESS IS GOD’S WAY OF WEANING MEN FROM THE

            WORLD. It is natural to cling to life; but it is necessary we should be made

            willing to leave it. The wrench is felt the less when some of the ties which

            bind us to earth have been sundered: when life loses its attractions. It is the

            office of pain and sickness to make life valueless, to make men anxious to

            depart. How often it happens that men who at the beginning of illness will

            not hear of death are presently found praying for their release. Such are the

            “uses of adversity.” An old writer compares affliction to the bitter unguent

            which nursing mothers who would wean their offspring sometimes put

            upon their breast. A few weeks on the couch of pain, and we soon cry out

            that life is not worth the living.

 

  • SICKNESS IS GOD’S DISCIPLINE FOR PARADISE. True it is

            that all “earthly care is a heavenly discipline.” All the ills that flesh is heir to

            are designed to be the instruments of our perfection. Like the Captain of

            our salvation, we are “made perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10)

            Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which

            He suffered” (Ibid. 5:8).  For us, as for Him, “the cross is the ladder to heaven.”

            There are two suggestive words  which only differ by one letter — paqh>mata

            path-ay-mahafflictions – and maqh>matamath-ay-mata - instructions.”

            But while all affliction is a school, the last illness should be the finishing

            school. At the last assay the furnace must be heated more than it has been wont

            to be. “I have learnt more,” said Mr. Cecil, “within these curtains in six weeks

            than I have learnt in all my life before.” The chamber of sickness is an enforced

            Retreat. There, ears “that the preacher could not school” are compelled to listen.

            There, “lips say ‘God be pitiful’ which ne’er said ‘God be praised.’ There, many

            have learnt for the first time to know themselves. And how necessary is this last

            discipline David’s sick chamber may teach us; for he had already had his share

            of troubles. His life had been largely spent in. the school of adversity.” (It has

            been said that adversity will either make one “better” or “bitter” – CY – 2010)

            “In journeyings often, in peril of robbers,” etc. (II Corinthians 11:25-26),

            these words aptly describe his early career. And even since he ascended the

            throne, how often has the sword gone through his soul. Amnon, Absalom, Tamar,

            Abner, Amasa, what tragedies are connected with these names. Few men have

            experienced such a long and bitter discipline as he; and it would seem, too,

            to have accomplished its work. If we may judge by some of his later

            Psalms, full of contrition, of humility, of devout breathings after God, that

            sweet and sanctified soul, like his Master, had “learned obedience by the things

             which he suffered.”  But he is not spared the final chastening. The sweet singer

            of Israel, the man after God’s own heart, must go awhile into the gloom and

            the silence of the sick room, there to be made fully “meet for the

            inheritance of the saints in light.” Men often pray to be spared a long

            sickness, often commiserate those who experience one. But we have

            learned that it has its uses. We see that it is a last chance given to men: a

            last solemn warning, a final chastening to prepare them for the beatific

            vision. The Neapolitans call one of the wards of their hospital

            LAntecamera della Motre — the ante chamber of death. It is thus that we

            should regard every “chamber of sickness.”

 

The word disciple or learner comes from maqhth>v, math-ay-tes

 

Remember the words of Jesus “The disciple is not above his master nor the

servant above his lord.”  (Matthew 10:24)

 

Heb. 12:9-10               I Peter 5:4-11               I Peter 2:19-21

 

 

“I go the way of all the earth” (ch. 2:1) is coming to us all if we live long enough!

 

Chief Seattle, 1855, the man after which Seattle, Washington, is named once said:

 

                        “Tribe follows tribe & nation follows nation like the

                        waves of the sea.  It is the order of nature & regret

                        is useless.  Your time of decay may be distant but

                        it will surely come for even the white man whose God

                        walked & talked with him as friend cannot be exempt

                        from the common destiny.  We may be brothers after

                        all.  We shall see!”

 

 

                        Adonijah’s Plot to Become King (vs. 5-10)

 

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.”  Adonijah ....exalted himself” - taking things into his own hands. 

 

“.....the way of man is not in himself:  it is not in man

  that walketh to direct his steps” – (Jeremiah 10:23)

 

“I will be king”  - Ambition - often a curse!

 

Ambition is the most troublesome and vexatious passion that can afflict

the sons of men.  It is full of distractions and stratagems.  It is an infinite labor

to make a man’s self miserable.  He makes his days full of sorrow to acquire a

three years reign.  If Adonijah had been content to fill second place he

might have lived a honored, happy and useful life, but ambition cut it short.

 

He used unworthy means - “chariots, horses, fifty men to run before him”

the proposal of marriage with Abishag, using the king’s mother as a tool

(ch. 2:13-22), the hypocritical resignation to Divine Will and all

this to overthrow a brother who had spared his life.  (vs. 52-53)

 

AMBITION MAKES MEN TRAMPLE ON THE LIVING AND THE DEAD.

 

How much misery is in this world caused when one is not content, despising the

state in life to which God has called him and reaching out for another

for which he is not fitted!          

 

Adonijah’s “I will be king” led to conspiracy,  rebellion, ingratitude, defiance

of a father, a brother, and of God!

 

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.”  David had not disciplined Adonijah as he ought?  Adonijah was a spoiled

child“his father had not displeased him at any time”  There is no greater

unkindness and injustice to a  child than over-indulgence.  The child is the father of the

man.  The boy who has all his own way will certainly want it in later life, and will not get it,

to his own disappointment and the unhappiness of all around him.

 

“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth his son

chasteneth him betimes” – (Proverbs 13:24)  Anti-corporal punishment

and anti-death crowds are pro-sin and anti-God.

 

One of the first duties that a child demands of its parents is that it should be

corrected and conquered.  The will must be broken in youth, the sapling can be

bent but not the trunk!

 

See Isaiah 3:10-12

 

David’s indulgence prepared a rod for his own and Adonijah’s back.

 

Remember Eli’s offense, giving his sons free rein without effective rebuke,

the Lord asking him why he honorest thy sons above me?”  (I Samuel 2:29)

 

See I Samuel 3:11-14; 2:34; 4:17,22;               See ch. 2:26-27

 

Also, it is said that “he (Adonijah) also was a very goodly man”

It does not say godly man, but goodly.  Gifts of form or feature, all admire,

many covet them, but often beauty is a snare to the possessor.

 

Personal beauty has often proved a curse than a blessing.  It did Absalom

and Adonijah no good, it was David’s goodly sons that conspired against

him and it was his “fair” daughter Tamar, who was dishonored.

 

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” - Leaving out Solomon - Adonijah was aware that Solomon

was marked to be David’s successor.

 

 

Bathsheba and Nathan Appear Before King David and Reveal the Plot (vs. 11-27)

 

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 swearst 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?”

 

 

David Reassures Bathsheba that Solomon is to be King in His Stead (vs. 28-31)

 

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 swear, and said,

As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,  30  Even as

I swear 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.”

 

 

 

    David Authorizes Zadok the Priest, Nathan the Prophet and Benaiah, the Son

      of Jehoiada, the Chief Priest, to Anoint Solomon as King in David’s Stead.

 

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.”

 

 

            The Reaction of Adonijah, His Co-conspirators, Joab and Abiathar,

              the Priest, and Guests, When Notified of Solomon’s Coronation.  

 

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.”

 

 

            Adonijah Runs and Clings to the Horns of the Altar in Fear.  Solomon’s

                                    Magnanimity in This Touchy Situation.

 

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 today 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.”

 

 

            Adonijah’s History and Its Lessons

 

  • HE WAS A SPOILED CHILD. — “His father had not displeased him at

any time.” (v. 7). There is no greater unkindness and injustice

to a child than over indulgence. The child is the father of the man. The boy

who has all his own way will certainly want it in after life, and will not get

it, to his own disappointment and the unhappiness of all around him. “He

that loveth his son chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24).  David was

probably so engrossed with public cares and duties that his first care,

after God — his family — was neglected. How unwise are those parents

who devolve the care of their children at the most critical and impressionable

time of life on domestics, who are often ill suited or unequal to the charge.

One of the first duties a child demands of its parents is that it should be

corrected and conquered. The will must be broken in youth. The sapling

may be bent, not so the trunk. David’s unwise indulgence, his sparing the rod,

prepared a rod for his own and Adonijah’s back. It was the sin of Eli that

“his sons made themselves vile and he restrained them not.” (I Samuel 3:13) –

And one sin of David was that he had not checked and “displeased”

this wilful son.

 

  • HE WAS ENDOWED BY NATURE WITH A DANGEROUS

PROPERTY. “He also was a very goodly man.” Gifts of form and feature,

much as all admire them, and much as some covet them, are frequently a

snare to their possessor. Perhaps, upon the whole, personal beauty has

oftener proved a curse than a blessing. “For the most part,” says Lord

Bacon, “it maketh a dissolute youth.” Oftener still it spoils the character.

The conceit of the Platonists, that a beautiful body loves to have a beautiful

soul to inhabit it, is unhappily not borne out by facts. “A pretty woman,” it

has been said, and it is often true, “adores herself” (Eugenie de Guerin).

The natural tendency of this possession is to engender pride, selfishness,

conceit, ambition. A striking exterior has often cost its possessor dear. It

did both Absalom and Adonijah no good. It is worthy of notice that it was

David’s “goodly” sons conspired against him, and it was his “fair

daughter Tamar was dishonoured. Adonijah’s face was an important factor

in his history: it contributed to his ruin. It favored, perhaps it suggested,

his pretensions to the throne. He thought, no doubt, “the first in beauty

should be first in might.” Had he been blessed with an insignificant

appearance he would probably have saved his head. As it was, courted and

admired, he thought the fairest woman of her time was alone a fit match

for him;  (ch. 2:17) and pride whispered that a man of such a presence was

marked out for a king, and so urged him to his ruin. Let us teach our children to

covet only “the beauty of the soul.”

 

  • HE WAS CURSED WITH AN INORDINATE AMBITION. “I will

be king.” (v. 5) “Cursed,” for it has cursed and blighted many lives. Like

the ignis fatuus, it has lured men to their destruction. It has been well called

“a deadly tyrant, an inexorable master.” “Ambition,” says the most eloquent

of divines, “is the most troublesome and veratious passion that can afflict

the sons of men. It is full of distractions, it teems with stratagems, and is

swelled with expectations as with a tympany. It is an infinite labor to

make a man’s self miserable; he makes his days full of sorrow to

acquire a three years’ reign.” What a striking illustration of these

words does Adonijah’s history supply. If he could but have been content

to fill the second place he might have lived honored, happy, and useful. But

ambition soured and then cut short his life. How much of the misery of the

world is caused by despising “that state of life unto which it has pleased

God to call us” and stretching out after another for which we are not fitted.

Adonijah’s history teaches this lesson — Solomon may have partly drawn

it from his life and death — “Pride goeth before destruction,”

 (Proverbs 16:18)

 

  • HE STOOPED TO UNWORTHY MEANS TO ATTAIN HIS

OBJECT. “Chariots,” “horses, fifty men to run before him” (v. 5). 

It is much like the Roman device, “Panem et circenses.” History repeats itself.

But these things were almost innocent compared with the measures he took

when these failed. The smooth intrigue of a marriage, the employment of the

king’s mother as his tool (ch. 2:13-21), the plausible words, the semblance of

resignation to the Divine will (Ibid. v. 15) - and all this to overthrow a brother who

had generously spared his life (vs. 50-53). And all this was the outcome of

ambition — ambition which makes men trample on the living and the dead.

Alas! We never know to what base courses we may be reduced if we once

embark in immoral enterprises. Adonijah’s “I will be king” led to conspiracy,

rebellion, intrigue, ingratitude; to defiance of a father, of a brother, of God.

 

  • HE WAS NOT WITHOUT WARNING, BUT IT WAS IN VAIN. The

            failure of his first conspiracy, the abject terror which followed, the flight to

            the sanctuary, the terrified clinging to the horns of the altar, the piteous

            entreaty for life — these things should have been remembered, should have

            “changed Adonijah’s hand and checked his pride.” Still more, his brother’s

            magnanimity, “there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth;” (v. 52) or,

            if not that, his message, “If wickedness be found in him he shall die” (Ibid.).

            All are of no avail. The passion for empire, like the passion for play, is almost

            incurable. Adonijah was playing for a throne: he staked honor, safety,

            piety — and lost. He played again — and this time a drawn sword was

            suspended over his head — he staked his life, and lost it. (ch. 2:25)

 

  • HE WAS SUDDENLY CUT OFF, AND THAT WITHOUT

            REMEDY. And this was the end of the spoiled child, of the “curled

            darling;” this the end of his pomp and circumstance, of his flattery and

            intrigue, of his steadfast resistance of the will of heaven — that the

            sword of the headsman smote him that he died (Ibid.).  Instead of the throne,

            the tomb; instead of the scepter, the sword. Chariots and horses, visions of

            empire, visions of love — one fell thrust of the steel put an end to all that. Died

            Adonijah as a fool dieth, ingloriously, ignobly. “When we are dead, all the

            world sees who was the fool.” Adonijah’s death was the fitting and natural

            conclusion of his life. He has sowed to the wind: what wonder if he reaps

            to the whirlwind.  (Hosea 8:7)

 

 

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