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  Ten years later compare

the overthrowing of revered historical statutes and the renaming of forts,

the violent attempt to overthrow law and order, in the summer of our discontent

in 2020 and the aftermath of only twelve years removed from the above statement!

CY - 2022)) 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



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.  It is not without

significance, in this connection, that the historical books of the Old Testament

were known to the Jewish fathers by the name μyaiybin] “and are distinguished

from the books strictly prophetical only in this, that the adjective μynwcar

priores, is applied to them, and to the latter μynwrja posteriores.”



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



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. In the opening verses, consequently, he introduces

us into the chamber of sickness. His materials for this part of the history were no doubt

derived from the” Book of Nathan the prophet” (1 Chronicles 29:29; II Chronicles

9:29). The date of these events is B.C. 1015.


            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”   Now [Hebrews and, but “now” more nearly

expresses the import of the original, for ו has here little or no connecting force. It is

commonly found at the beginning of a book (as in Exodus, Leviticus,

Joshua, Judges, II Samuel, Ruth, etc.), and that where there is no

connection whatever with any earlier writing (as in Esther, Ezekiel, Jonah,

etc.) It can hardly imply, therefore, “that the historian regards his work as a

continuation of a preceding history” (Rawlinson), nor is there any need to

suppose that it has been taken from a writing containing the earlier history

of David.” Keil] King [Hebrews the king. The frequent use of this title,

“King David,” “King Solomon,” “King Asa,” etc., is characteristic of our

author. The expression is not unknown in II Samuel, but it occurs so rarely

as to constitute a distinction (not a link, as Wordsworth) between that

book and the Kings.] David was old [yet II Samuel 5:4-5, shows that

he cannot have been more than seventy. (He was thirty at his accession; his

reign at Hebron lasted seven years and a half; at Jerusalem thirty-three

years.) Rawlinson says, “the Jews at this time were not long lived.”

Certainly, the Jewish kings were not. Only David, Solomon, and Manasses

exceeded threescore] and stricken [Hebrews gone, i.e., advanced] in

years. [A common expression, only found with זָקֵן; as in Genesis 18:11;

24:1; Joshua 13:1, etc.] And they covered him with clothes [literally

coverings. בֶּגֶד, is used of any covering, whether of the person (Genesis

39:12; 1 Kings 22:10), or the bed (1 Samuel 19:13), or even a table

(Numbers 4:6). Indeed, the outer garment was used, at least by the

poor, for a covering at night (Exodus 22:27). The context (v. 47)

shows that bed clothes are intended here] 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. Possibly 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 (weakened) old man. At his side

stands  a fair young girl, assiduously ministering to his wants.





                                    The Chamber of Sickness (v. 1)


This opening chapter of 1 Kings introduces us into the privacy of a sick

room. 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. 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 lifethe 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



            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.



            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 — παθήματα

            path-ay-mahafflictions – andmath-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 µαθητής, mathaetaes.


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!”


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.”  -  “Wherefore

[Heb. and] his servants”   according to Josephus (Antiq. vii. 14, 3) his physicians –

recommended procuring  “a young virgin…a fair damsel ….. Abishag a

Shunammite,” by name.  She must be young, to impart heat, and a virgin, as

befitted a king. Though she was recommended as a nurse, they would naturally

suppose she might be taken as a concubine] and lether stand before the king [

i.e., as servant (v. 4). Compare ch. 12:6, 8; Genesis 41:46; Daniel 1:5; Deuteronomy

1:38 (with Joshua 1:1) 1 Kings 10:8. In the East, servants still stand and wait their

masters’ pleasure.  Compare II Kings 5:25 - and let her cherish him [So also the

 Septuagint., καὶ ἔσται αὐτὸν θάλπουσα - kai estai auton thalpousa - while

cherishing him.   But Gesenius, al, "be a companion to him"] and let her lie in

thy [or αυτοῦ - autou - his,  , Vulg. suo] bosom [the expression is generally,

but not invariably (see 1 Kings 3:20; Ruth 4:16) used de complexu venereo]

that my lord the king may get heat. [This close embrace of youth was an

obvious way of imparting animal heat to age ("Color a corpore juvenili ac

sane maxime prodest senibus." Grotius), and was the more favored because

other and internal remedies were not then known. It is recognized by Galen,

and is said to have been prescribed by a Jewish physician to the Emperor

Frederick Bar-baressa (Bahr). It is stated by Roberts that it is still largely

followed in the East


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.”   So [Hebrew and]

they sought (compare Esther 2:2), for a fair [this word points to the same conclusion

as “virgin” in v. 2] damsel throughout all the coasts [i.e., borders (costa=rib, side).

An old writer speaks of the “coasts and quarters of heaven”] of Israel, and found

Abishag [= “Father of error.” Names compounded with Ab, “father,” were

and are very common in the East. We have, e.g., Ab-salom in v. 6, and

Abi-athar in v. 7] a [Hebrew the] Shunammite [Shunem, a town of

Issachar (Joshua 19:18), now called Solam, “a flourishing village

encompassed by gardens” (Porter), and “in the midst of the finest

cornfields in the,world” (Grove), lies on the lower slope of “Little

Hermon,” and has before it the wide plain of Esdraelon. Another

Shunammite appears in the sacred history (II Kings 4:8)] and brought

her to the king.


4And the damsel was very fair [literally ,fair to exceeding] and

cherished [see on v. 2] the king, and ministered to him; but the king

knew her not.” [This is mentioned to explain the history of ch.  2:13-25.

Had it been otherwise, Adonijah could never have presumed to seek

her in marriage, and Bathsheba would never have promised her help in

his suit. Such an incestuous alliance would not only have been contrary

to the law (Leviticus 18:8), but abhorrent to all true Israelites (compare

1 Corinthians 5:1). In this fact, which the court knew, and which the

nation at large did not know — they could only suppose that such a

“search” for one so exceeding “fair” meant the increase of the

seraglio — Adoni-jah found his point dappui (a support or prop)

for a second attempt  on the throne. The older expositors and some

of the modern, notably Wordsworth, assume that Abishag was David’s

wife, in the sense of being legally married to him. But this idea finds

no support in Scripture, which represents her as simply an attendant.

It is idle to remark, consequently, that “the Jewish law allowed

polygamy” (Rawlinson).



                        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.”  Then Adonijah [=“Jehovah is my Lord.” The fourth son of

David, and now apparently the eldest surviving. It seems probable that

Chileab, or Daniel (1 Chronicles 3:1), David’s second son, died in

infancy. For Amnon’s death, see II Samuel 13:29; for Absalom’s,

ibid. ch. 18:14. He must now have been between thirty-three and forty

years of age (having been born in Hebron)] the son of Haggith

[=“Festive” (Gesen.) “the dancer” (Stanley)] exalted himself, saying

[to himself and his confederates], I will be king. [It is not difficult to trace

this resolve to its sources. They were:


(1) his seniority (ch.  2:22). It is true there was no “right of

primogeniture” in the Hebrew monarchy. “The God King had reserved to

Himself the choice of the earthly king” (Keil). David himself was not the

eldest, but the youngest brother. At the same time primogeniture, ceteris

paribus (all other things being equal), would have, and as a matter of fact had,

considerable weight. The firstborn had the birthright; can we doubt he would

expect the crown, and think it hard if he were passed over? (see II Chronicles 21:3).


(2) His personal attractions. Adonijah would think that his beauty and

stature (Josephus mentions the latter) marked him out, as similar gifts had

done Saul (1 Samuel 9:2),. for the throne.


(3) He was encouraged in his pretensions, if indeed they were not

suggested to him, by others, by Joab, for example (see on v. 7).


(4) Possibly love for the beautiful Shunammite and the desire to gain

possession of her may have strengthened his resolves. It is noteworthy that

he and his beauty are mentioned just after her and hers]: and he prepared

[Hebrews made] him chariots and horsemen [rather horses, as in

I Samuel 8:11; here ch.  5:6, Hebrew. The former passage almost settles

the meaning here. Keil assumes that a mounted escort is meant], and fifty

men to run before him [as Absalom before him (II Samuel 15:1).

Adonijah seems in every way to have imitated Absalom. Josephus says he

resembled him in disposition. Chariots, horses, and outrunners are

mentioned (1 Samuel 8:11) as the very first of the king’s insigina.

Horses were such natural and familiar tokens of royal state (not being

employed in agriculture or for traveling), that the Hebrew kings were

warned (Deuteronomy 17:16) against multiplying them. Outrunners

again, such as the Roman emperors had (called by them cursores), and

such as we find at the present day in Egypt, footmen who precede the

chariot at full speed, and by their shrill cries clear the way, are admirably

calculated to impress the public mind. According to Morier, “runners

before the king’s horse in Persia are indispensable to the royal state.”

Adonijah hoped by this display of regal pomp to win the suffrages of the



“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 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)




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!




                                    Adonijah and the Lord’s Anointed (v. 5)


The conspiracy of Adonijah and its issue may suggest some lessons as to

the kingdom of Christ and those who oppose His reign. For consider:


·         SOLOMON IS A TYPE OF OUR BLESSED LORD. This is universally

allowed. The true “son of David” is the Son of God. He is the Divine

Wisdom, the true Anointed One, the eternal King of Israel. Solomon “the

peaceful” prefigured the great “Prince of Peace.”



REIGN. This is taught “by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture” (see

e.g.,  ch. 1:32-33, and compare II Samuel 7:11-12; Psalm 72:11; Isaiah 9:7;

16:5; Jeremiah 23:5).




The second Psalm, the primary reference of which is to Solomon, has its

absolute fulfilment in our Lord (Acts 4:25-27). Note here:


Ø      As against Solomon were leagued princes, priest, and general, so

against the Christ were gathered tetrarch, priests, and proconsul.


Ø      As the aid of religion was invoked against Solomon by Adonijah and

Abiathar (note on v. 9), so it was invoked against our blessed LORD

by Annas and Caiaphas (Matthew 26:65; John 19:7). In both

cases, religion was used as a cloke. Now observe:






Ø      The brief success. As for a time everything seemed to favor the

conspirators — David’s indecision, Adonijah’s following, etc. - so now

the powers of this world seem to have their own way. The silence of God,

a corrupt priesthood, physical force, the chariots and horses of the world,

the pomp and glitter of wealth — all seem to promise success. The cause

of Christ, like that of Solomon, seems to be desperate. But:


Ø      The sudden overthrow. In the very hour of apparent success, amid cries

of “God save King Adonijah,” the trumpet blast proclaimed the

destruction of their hopes, and the trembling and terrified guests hurriedly

dispersed to their homes. So, at the trump of the archangel, if not before,

the “gates of hell” shall be overcome and the enemies of our Lord shall

be put to confusion, and flee to the mountains and hills to cover them

(Luke 23:30; Revelation 6:12-17). Meanwhile the Church and her

ministers, like Bathsheba and Nathan, must cry to the Eternal Father,

“Lord, how long?” (ibid. v. 10)




The conspiracy lasted at the longest a few weeks; the peaceful reign of

Solomon extended over forty years. The conspiracy against Christ has

lasted over 1800 years (Now 2000 - CY - 2022) for “we see not yet all

things put under Him” (Hebrews 2:8)  but what is this compared with

ETERNITY, and “He shall reign forever and ever(Revelation 11:15;

compare Daniel 6:26).





Ø      The judgment. No sooner was Solomon anointed king than he sat in

judgment upon Adonijah (v. 52), and no long time afterwards upon

Joab and Abiathar.


Ø      The doom. He condemned Abiathar to banishment (ch. 2:26),

and appointed Adonijah and Joab to be slain. Even so our Lord will

presently sit upon the judgment throne and will in like manner banish

(“Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil

and his angels.” - (Matthew 25:41) and deliver to death

(“These mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over

them, bring hither and slay them before me” (Luke 19:27)

                        the opposers of His glorious reign.




                                    The Sin of Ambition (v. 5)


Ambition is not always wrong. It is a common inspiration; and when the

desire for distinction is associated with fitness for it, the call to effort and

advance is from God. But for such ambition the world would stagnate.

When the schoolboy is working for a prize, when the writer or speaker

resolves to be amongst the foremost men of his age, when the man of

business presses on towards the front ranks in the commercial world, we

see what should be applauded and not condemned, so long as lawful

objects are sought by lawful means. Let us, in all our pursuits, remember

God’s laws for exaltation. Men are to go higher, when they have fulfilled

the duties of the lower sphere. They are to rise on performances, and not

on discontent. Hence, if ambition be conscientious, it will prompt to the

minutely faithful performance of trivial duties. With a tireless hand crooked

things will be made straight, and rough places plain, before the glory is

revealed. If, however, ambition be not ruled by righteousness, or modified

by love, if it is regardless of the rights of others and of the will of God,

then it is a sin; the sin which was the herald of disobedience and death, the

source of the tyranny and bloodshed WHICH HAS DESOLATED THE

WORLD!  . It was this sin of which Adonijah was guilty when he “exalted

himself, saying, I will be king!”Let us see wherein the sinfulness of his sin lay.



OF THE DIVINE ORDINANCE. It has been said that his act was natural,

though foolishly precipitate (bad or undesireable); for, according to the usual

law of primogeniture, he had a right to expect the throne. But the law of

primogeniture was never the law of the kingdom of Israel, which in spirit

was a theocracy throughout. The invisible King distinctly reserved to him-

self the right of appointment (Deuteronomy 17:14-15). True, seniority

was a tacit indication of the Divine will, but this was always overruled by

any special revelation of God’s choice. He who had chosen David from

amongst his brothers, chose Solomon, and there was fitness in the choice;

not only because as a man of peace he was qualified to build the Temple

(1 Chronicles 22:8- 9), but also because his succession was a pledge to

his parents, and to all the people, that after the death of their first child the

sin of David and Bathsheba was buried in oblivion (compare Psalm 51:2,

7, 9, with Isaiah 43:25, etc.). This Divine choice was publicly known.

Nathan sided with Solomon not as “the leader of a court cabal,” but as the

prophet of the Lord; and Adonijah himself was well aware of the election

of his brother (ch. 2:15). When Adonijah said “I will be king,” he

deliberately set up his will against God’s. A deep significance underlies

God’s choice of men. He elects according to fitness and fits according to

election, so that there is ultimate harmony between circumstances and

character. The two sons of Zebedee were taught this. They had as much

seeming right to the place of honor which they sought as had Adonijah to

the throne. They belonged to “the twelve,” were personally beloved of

their Lord, and their mother was related to the Virgin Mary, and was of

those who ministered to Jesus. But Jesus said, “to sit on my right hand and

on my left is not mine to give, but it shall be given to those for whom it is

prepared of my Father.” In other words, honors would be given by law

and not by favor; not from arbitrary impulse, but from a knowledge of

what was right and fitting. Draw lessons of contentment from the

assurance that our lot is appointed by God. Show the necessity for our own

sakes of submissiveness in prayer, lest God should give us our request and

send leanness into our soul.




AND NOT FOR INWARD WORTH. He prepared him chariots and

horsemen and fifty men to run before him. His ambition was to have these

for their own sakes, not to increase his influence for good. Nor was he the

last man who cared for glitter and show. The candidate for a competitive

examination, who seeks only for honors, and cares nothing for the

learning and studious habits which may be acquired, will never be a true

student. So with the professional man who works for money only, etc.

Honors thus won are unsatisfying and transient. Their worth is fitly

represented in the ceremonies observed at the coronation of a Pope. The

master of ceremonies  holds in one hand a lighted taper, and in the other a

reed surmounted by a piece of flax. The flax is ignited and flashes up into

light, but in a few moments the flame dies out and the thin ashes fall at the

Pontiffs feet, while a sonorous voice chants the words, “Pater sanctus, sic

transit gloria mundi.” The pagans understood to some extent the lesson we

seek to enforce. Their temple of honor had only one entrance, and that was

through the temple of virtue. Over the gates of the kingdom of Christ these

words are written, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that

exalteth himself shall be abased.” In the day when spiritual realities shall be

revealed there shall be not the glorification, but the manifestation of the

sons of God,” and in the outcome of character inwrought by God’s Spirit

true and lasting glory shall be found.




Solomon was his appointed successor; but Adonijah trampled their rights

beneath his feet as he mounted the throne. Selfishness is the chief of those

elements in ambition which constitute its sinfulness. Hence we may test

ambition, by asking ourselves how we regard our competitors. If a man

envies others; if, without compunction, he will crush another to the wall

that he may pass him by; if he refuses to help another in sore straits, who is

within his reach, on the ground that every man is for himself; then his

ambition is a sin. This is more clearly revealed by our Lord than by the old

dispensation. He has taught us not only to love our neighbors, but our

competitors, and even our foes. He has urged us to “bear one another’s

burdens,” to deny ourselves, and take up our cross to follow Him. The

Christian Church has a sacrifice for its basis, and a cross for its banner.



SIGNIFICANT WARNING. Adonijah repeated his brother’s offence.

(Compare II Samuel 15.) He knew how that bright young life had closed in

darkness, when Absalom died helpless and unpitied by the hand of Joab.

He had often seen his father sitting looking at himself with a far off look in

his eyes, as if he still were saying, “O, Absalom, would God I had died for

thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18:33) Yet the same sin which

had been so signally punished he resolved to commit. History is crowded with

illustrations of the fact that men who have lived as Adonijah did have found

their honours unsatisfying, and have died in disappointment and despair.


Ø      Alexander, who conquered the world, died, after setting fire to a city,

in a scene of awful debauchery.


Ø      Hannibal, who at one time could fill three bushels with the gold rings of

fallen knights, died by poison, administered by his own hand, unwept

in a foreign land.


Ø      Caesar, who conquered eight hundred cities, fell stabbed to the heart

      by his friends, in the place of his noblest triumph.


Ø      Napoleon, the conqueror of Europe, died a heart broken captive.

It has been writ large, in letters of blood, so that he who runs may

read, “the expectation of the wicked shall be cut off!”


·         CONCLUSION: Will you, with the nobler possibilities set before you in the

gospel, whom angel voices are calling to higher things, whose conscience

is whispering of duty and love, to whom Christ, the suffering Saviour, the

King of Glory, says, “Follow Me!” will you, like Adonijah, turn to the

ways of self indulgence and vainglory, to prove as he did that “the wages

of sin is death.”  (Romans 6:23)


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.”  And his father had not displeased [or pained, afflicted. The

Septuagint has ἀπεκώλυσεν - apekolusen - pained; afflicted] him at any time

[Hebrew - from his days, i.e., all his days, Septuagint οὐδέποτε - oudepote -

never, Vulgate - a diebus ejus. Sein Lebtage (Bahr). Some (Seb. Schmiat, e.g.)

would understand since the days of his ambition and display”] in saying,

Why hast thou done so? and he also [i.e., he also, as well as Absalom,

mentioned presently; or, possibly, he as well as Abishag just mentioned -

was a very goodly man [compare II Samuel 14:25. This accounted in part not

only for his ambition, but also for his following]; and his mother [the two last

words are not in the original, which simply has “and she bare,יָלְדָה;. There

is no need, Thenius, to read, רתך;genuit, or with others, הולִיד. We have a similar

ellipsis in Numbers 26:59. The meaning is quite clear, viz., that Haggith

bare Adonijah to David next after Maachah bore him Absalom. This fact is

mentioned to show that he was the eldest surviving son; and it shows

therefore that seniority counted for something (compare ch. 2:25)] 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.




                        Moral Ruin in a Religious Home (v. 6)


It is a notorious fact that the sons of devout men sometimes prove a curse

to their parents, and bring dishonor on the cause of God. When sin entered

the world, it caused the earth, on which flowers had aforetime blossomed,

to bring forth thorns and briars. This is a picture of a sad truth, known in

the first home, and in many another since. Eve rejoiced over the fair child

she had “gotten from the Lord,” and did not suspect that passions were

sleeping within him which would nerve his arm to strike the fatal blow

which slew his brother and destroyed his mother’s peace. Such sorrow has

been experienced in subsequent history. Isaac’s heart was rent by the deceit

of Jacob and the self will of Esau. Jacob found his own sin repeated against

himself, for he who had deceived his father when he was old and blind,

suffered an agony of grief for years, because he was falsely told by his sons

that Joseph was dead. Probably few have had more domestic sorrow than

David. He experienced, in its bitterest form, the grief of a parent who has

wished that before his son had brought such dishonor on the home, he

had been, in the innocence of his childhood, laid to rest beneath the daisies.

Of David’s sons, Amnon, the eldest, after committing a hideous sin, had

been assassinated by the order of Absalom, his brother. Absalom himself

had rebelled against his father, and had been killed by Joab, as he hung

helpless in the oak. Chileab (or Daniel) was dead. And now of the fourth

son, the eldest surviving, Adonijah, this sad story is told. Adonijah’s sin

seems so unnatural at first sight that we must try and discover the sources

whence so bitter and desolating a stream flowed. We shall find them in


are hinted at in our text.



AMBITION AND SELF CONCEIT. His association with Absalom is not

without significance. The two brothers were alike in their sin and in the

tendencies which led to it. These were inherited,


Ø      The law that like produces like, which is proved to demonstration in

the breeding of lower animals (illustrations from horses bred for speed or

endurance, dogs for fleetness or scent, pigeons for swiftness or beauty,

etc.), asserts itself in man. Not only are physical qualities inherited, so that

we recognise a “family likeness” between children of the same parents; but

mental qualities are inherited too; statesmanship, heroism, or artistic gift,

reappearing in the same family for generations. Moral tendencies are

transmitted too; and Scripture exemplifies it. If Isaac is so luxurious that he

must have his savoury dish, we do not so much wonder that Esau, his son

sells his birthright for a mess of pottage. If Rebekah, like Laban her

brother, is greedy and cunning, her son Jacob inherits her tendency, and

must live a life of suffering, and present many an agonizing prayer before

he is set free from his besetting sin. So is it still. The drunkard gives to his

offspring a craving for drink, which is a disease. In more senses than one,

“The evil that men do lives after them.” Surely, then, when not only future

happiness, but the destiny of children depends on the choice of a life

partner, there should be regard paid not merely to physical beauty, or

mental endowment, or social position, but, above all these, to moral and

spiritual worth.


Ø      It is argued that this law of moral heritage affects personal

responsibility; that it is hardly fair to condemn a man for a sin to which he

is naturally prone. But “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

(Genesis 18:25)  Whatever your parentage, you are not “committed to do these

abominations.” If the disposition be evil, it need never become the habit of

life. It is something you may yield to, but it is something you may resist; for

He is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are

able to bear.” Rather should any tendencies to evil be recognized as God’s

voice calling attention to the weak places of character, that there we may

keep most eager watch and ward. And because we are weak, He has sent

His Son to bring deliverance to the captives, that through Him we may be

inspired with hope, and fitted with strength, and rejoice in the liberty

wherewith Christ makes His people free.


·         ADONIJAH WAS MISLED BY ADULATION. He was also a very

goodly man.” Physically, as well as morally, he was a repetition of

Absalom. His parents were guilty of partiality. David loved him the more

because (like the lost boy) Adonijah was so fair, so noble in mien, so

princely in stature. Courtiers and soldiers (who looked, as they did in

Saul’s time, for a noble-looking king) flattered him. Joab and Abiathar

joined the adulators. Intoxicated with vanity, Adonijah set up a royal court,

as Absalom had done (see v. 5). Every position in life has its own

temptations. The ill-favored child who is the butt at school and the

scapegoat at home is tempted to bitterness and revenge. His character is

likely to be unsightly, as a plant would be, which grows in a damp, dark

vault. There can belittle beauty if there is no sunshine. On the other hand, if

the gift of physical beauty attracts attention and wins admiration, or if

conversational power be brilliant, etc., it is a source of peril. Many a one

has thus been befooled into sin and misery, or entrapped into an unhappy

marriage, and by lifelong sadness paid the penalty of folly, or venturing too

far, prompted by ambition, has fallen, like Icarus when his waxen wings

melted in the sunshine. When that time of disappointment and

disenchantment comes, happy is it when such an one, like the prodigal,

comes to himself, and says, “I will arise, and go to my father!”



not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? This

refers not only to the special act of rebellion, but to the tendencies and

habits leading up to it, which David had not checked, for fear of vexing the

high spirited lad. The weak indulgence of children (such as that which Eli

exhibited) is the cause of untold misery. Not many parents blazon abroad

the story of their domestic grief. Loyal hands draw down the veil over the

discord at home, and that agony of prayer which is heard by “the Father

who seeth in secret.” You do not see the girl who mars the beauty of her

early womanhood by a flippant disregard of her parents, and whose own

pleasure seems to be the only law of her life. You do not see the child

whose hasty passion and uncontrolled temper are the dread of the

household; who, by his ebullitions (sudden outbursts) of rage, gets what he

wishes, till authority is disregarded and trodden underfoot. You do not see

the son who thinks it manly to be callous to a mother’s anxiety and a father’s

counsels, who likes to forget home associations, and is sinking in haunts of

evil, where you may weep over him as a wreck. But, though you see them

not, they exist. Far otherwise, in some of these sad experiences, it might

have been. Suppose there had been firm resolution instead of habitual

indulgence; suppose that authority had been asserted and used in days

before these evil habits were formed; suppose that, instead of leaving the

future to chance, counsels and prayers had molded character during

molding time — might there not have been joy where now there is grief?

Heavy are our responsibilities as parents. Yet splendid are our possibilities!

These children who may prove our curses may, with God’s blessing on our

fidelity, grow up to be wise, pure hearted, courageous men of God, who

will sweeten the atmosphere of the home, and purge this nation of its sins,

and make the name of “the King of saints” honored and praised

throughout the world! “Train them up in the nurture and admonition of the

Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:4)


7 “And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar

the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.”  And he conferred

 [Hebrew - “his words were” (II Samuel 3:17, Hebrew)] with Joab [Joab’s

share in this conspiracy, despite his hitherto unwavering fidelity to David,

is easily accounted for. He must have known that he was under David’s

displeasure, and he must have feared, too, that he would be an object of dislike

and distrust to a successor trained, as Solomon had been, under David’s and

Nathan’s immediate influence. He could hardly be unconscious that under

a new reign his position — unless he took measures to assure it — would be

a precarious one. He resolved, therefore, to secure himself by helping Adonijah

to his throne. It is also highly probable that Adonijah’s ambitious character

was much more to his liking than that of the pious and pacific Solomon.

Adonijah’s physical qualities, again, would no doubt commend him to this

rough soldier, who may also have sympathized with him as the eldest son.

And there may have been other circumstances (such, e.g., as close personal

friendship), of which we know nothing] the son of Zeruiah, and with

Abiathar [in II Samuel 8:17, we read that “Ahimelech son of Abiathar”

was priest. Similarly, 1 Chronicles 24:6. An obvious transposition] the

priest. [“Abiathar’s defection is still more surprising” than Joab’s

(Rawlinson). It is certainly remarkable, when we consider the close ties

which subsisted between Abiathar and David, ties which were cemented by

the blood of eighty-five persons (1 Samuel 22:18), and strengthened by

the many afflictions which they had shared in common (ibid. v. 23 -

compare to 1 Kings 28.;II Samuel 15:24-29), that he should have joined

in a plot to defeat David’s cherished hopes and plans — plans, too, which

he must surely have known, had the sanction of religion (1 Chronicles 28:5),

and there must have been some powerful motive to account for this. May

we not find one in jealousy of Zadok, who had for some time been

associated with him in the priesthood, who is generally mentioned first

(II Samuel 8:17; 15:29, 35-36 - Oh the perils of ME FIRST!  - CY - 2022),

as if he were the more important and influential, and whose advancement,

after the prophecy of I Samuel 2:33-36, Abiathar could not contemplate

without suspicion and dread. Is it not highly probable that among the

“words” Adonijah had with him was a promise to restore the priesthood

to his family exclusively, as the reward of his allegiance]  (thus Akdonijah

was playing fast and loose with what is only God’s prerogative! CY - 2022):

and they following Adonijah helped him (literally, as in the margin, “helped after

Adonijah.” It is a pregnant construction, “they aided having followed the side of

Adonijah” (Gesenius).


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.”  But Zadok the priest [II Samuel 8:17. It is generally

said to be difficult to explain “how Zadok and Abiathar came both to be “priests at

this time.” Rawlinson, who adds that “the best explanation is that Abiathar

was the real high priest,” officiating in Zion, while Zadok acted as chief

priest at the tabernacle at Gibeon. (Bahr, by a strange oversight, assigns to

Zadok the care of the ark on Mount Zion, whereas 1 Chronicles 16:39,

distinctly connects his ministry with the tabernacle of witness at Gibeon.)

But the precedence (see on v. 7) generally assigned to Zadok is hardly

consistent with the idea that Abiathar was “the real high priest.” The fact is

that a duality of high priests, associated, apparently, on pretty equal terms,

was not unknown in Jewish history. The cases of Eleazer and Ithamar,

Hophni and Phinehas, Annas and Caiaphas, will occur to all. II Kings

25:18, speaks of “the chief priest” and “the second priest;” II Chronicles 31:10,

of the “chief priest of the house of Zadok.” And a dual priesthood would be the

more necessary in David’s days, because of the two sanctuaries, Zion and Gibeon.

We find, however, from 1 Chronicles 15:11, that Zadok was already priest at the

time of the bringing up of the ark. And the true explanation, no doubt, is that

Zadok had succeeded some member of his family, in all probability Jehoiada,

called in 1 Chronicles 12:27, “the leader of Aaron” (Hebrew), who had

certainly been high priest in the time of Saul (1 Chronicles 27:5), and

who would hardly be degraded when, with 3700 followers, he joined David

at Hebron. On his decease, or cession of office, Zadok, who had joined at

the same time with a large contingent,was associated with Abiathar in the

priest’s office. This dual arrangement, consequently, was the result of

David’s having taken over a high priest from Saul, together with the

kingdom, when he had Abiathar as priest already,] and Benaiah the son

of Jehoiada, [i.e., Jehoiada the high priest (1 Chronicles 27:5).

Benaiah was consequently a Levite, and of the family of Aaron; set,

however, by David, because of his prowess (II Samuel 23:20-21; 1 Chronicles 11:22)

over the bodyguard (II Samuel 8:18; 1 Chronicles 18:17). Probably he was a near

relative of Zadok.], and Nathan the prophet [a Jewish tradition makes Nathan the

eighth son of Jesse. He comes before us II Samuel 7:2-3, 17; 12:1-12, 25] and Shimei

[by Ewald identified with Shammah (1 Samuel 16:9), or Shimeah, David’s

brother (II Samuel 13:3; 21:21). Others suppose him to be the Shimei

of ch.4:18. But see note on ch. 2:8. Josephus calls Shimei (not

Rei, as Bahr states) ὁ Δαυίδου φίλος - ho Davidou philos - David’s friend],

and Rei [this name occurs here only. Ewald would identify him with Raddai

(1 Chronicles 2:14), another brother of David, but on very slender grounds],

and the mighty men [or heroes. Gesen. “chiefs.” Not the 600 men who formed

David’s band in his wanderings (1 Samuel 25:13; 27:2) (Rawlinson), but the 30

(or 37) to whom this name of Gibborim is expressly given, II Samuel

23:8; 1 Chronicles 11:15, 25; 29:24. Compare II Kings 10:25, Hebrew]

which belonged to David [same expression as in II Samuel 23:8]

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.”  And Adonijah slew [or sacrificed, Septuagint

ἐθυσίασεν - ethusiasen - killed.   It was a sacrificial feast, like Absalom’s,

II Samuel 15:12 (where see Speaker’s note). Religious festivity, i.e., was the

apparent object of their assembling: religion was invoked, not merely to cloke

their designs, but to cement them together] sheep and oxen and fat cattle by

[Hebrew with; same expression, II Samuel 20:8] the stone of Zoheleth, [i.e.,”the

serpent” (Gesen.) “No satisfactory explanation has been given of this name”

(Rawlinson). See Smith’s “Dict. Bible” sub voc., where the various

interpretations are given.


Zoheleth (serpent ), The stone, This was "by En-rogel," ( 1 Kings 1:9 ) and therefore,

if En-rogel be the modern Um-ed-Deraj , this stone, "where Adonijah slew sheep and

oxen," was in all likelihood not far from the well of the Virgin.  (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)


The stone, which served as “a natural altar for the

sacrificial feast,” the spring, which afforded “water for the necessary

ablutions,” and the situation with respect to the adjoining city

recommended this place as a rendezvous] which is by En-Rogel

[Joshua 15:7; 18:16; II Samuel 17:17. Perhaps “the spring of the

spy.” The Chaldeans, Arabic, and Syriac. render “the spring, of the fuller” —

the Orientals wash clothes, etc., by treading (rogel) them. Josephus says it was

without the city, in the royal garden (ἐν βασιλικῷ παραδείσῳ|). The

authorities are divided between the “Fountain of the virgin” (Ain um ed-

Deraj), and the “Well of Job” (Bir Eyub.) See the arguments in Bonar’s

Land of Promise,” App. 5; Thomson’s “Land and Book,” vol. 2 p. 528;

and Mr. Grove’s Art. in Smith’s “Dict. Bib.” Porter (“Handbook of

Palestine “) identifies En-Rogel with Bir Eyub without remark. There is

much to be said on either side. The pool of Siloam (“Bib. Museum”) has

nothing in its favor] and called all his brethren the king’s sons

[including, it would seem, even the elder sons of David and Bathsheba,

who would bring up the number to fifteen (1 Chronicles 3:5). They too,

if living, would naturally resent the preference of the youngest brother],

and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants [“all the Judeans who

were serving at court, as being members of his own tribe” (Keil). The

fierce jealousy between Ephraim and Judah would almost compel the king

to surround himself with soldiers and attendants of the latter tribe. Some of

the invited guests, no doubt, like Absalom’s two hundred, “went in their

simplicity and knew not anything” (II Samuel 15:11).


10 “But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and

Solomon his brother, he called not.”  It is clear from this verse

that Adonijah perfectly understood that he had in Solomon a rival. The

intentions and promises (v. 13) of his father can hardly have been

unknown to him. The name “Jedidiah, too, bestowed upon Solomon by

Nathan (II Samuel 12:25), taken in connection with the prophecy of

Nathan (ibid. 7:12; compare 1 Chronicles 22:9-10), must have proved to him

that Solomon was marked out for David’s successor. He seems to have

been well aware also who were Solomon’s supporters. To some of them he

may have made indirect overtures.


The historian having recorded Adonijah’s preparations for a coup detat,

now relates the manner in which the plot was frustrated. The prophet, who

had been the guardian and preceptor of Solomon’s youth, and who knew

the Divine will respecting the succession (1 Chronicles 22:9-10), takes

prompt and energetic measures to defeat the conspiracy.


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?”  Wherefore Nathan spake unto

Bathsheba the mother of Solomon [the person after Solomon most directly

concerned and also best fitted to approach the king] saying, Hast thou not

heard that Adonijah tile son of Haggith [possibly there is a touch of worldly

wisdom here, as Rawlinson suggests, “Haggith, thy rival.” We may be sure

David’s harem was not without its fierce jealousies. But (see v. 5, and ch. 2:13)

the patronymic (denoting or relating to a name derived from the name of a father

or male ancestor) is so common in Hebrew that we cannot safely found an

argument upon it. See on chap. 2:5] doth reign [Hebrew did reign. Septuagint

ἐβασίλευσαεν - ebasileusaen =  aorist = literally be king;succeeded. “Schon so

gut wie Konig gewordenist.” Bahr and Keil] and David our Lord knoweth it not.




            The Jewish Prophet: An Example to the Christian Pastor 

                                                (v. 11)


The dealings of Nathan with David may suggest some thoughts as to

the office, and the duties of the Christian minister. For observe:




THAT OF THE PROPHET IN THE OLD. Prophecy, that is to say,

is one of his functions. For prophecy does not, strictly and properly, mean

prediction (or foretelling), but preaching (or forthtelling). The prophet

was the spokesman or interpreter of God.  The “prophesyings” of the

New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:14) were preachings or expositions;

and in this sense the word is used by Lord. So the prophet was, and the

preacher is, an ambassador for God, an expounder of His laws,

a herald of His kingdom. The former, therefore, may well serve as a

pattern to the latter. Now the dealings of the prophet Nathan with

King David were of two kinds:


1. He admonished him in health;

2. He counseled him in sickness.


Hence let us learn that we owe doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in

righteousness; in other words, “both public and private monitions and

exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole within our cures.”

The latter are liable to be overlooked. But the prophet further suggests to us:


a.      what are the ministrations or admonitions the pastor owes to

     his flock, and

b.  what is the spirit in which he should offer them.


He teaches the former by his dealings with David in health, and

the latter by his dealings with David in sickness.


·         Under the first head, observe that,


1. He boldly denounced Davids sin (II Samuel 12:7) at the risk,

    perhaps, of his life, and fearlessly threatened him with shame

    (v. 11) and sword (v. 10).

2. He proclaimed forgiveness on Davids repentance (v. 13).

3. He ministered comfort in Davids sorrow (v. 25).

4. He encouraged and advised David in his undertakings (II Samuel

    7:3-17. Behold here, the principal duties of the pastoral office —

     to rebuke sin, to pronounce absolution, to comfort the sorrowing,

     to guide the conscience. And note: in all these functions, Nathan

     merely echoed the word the Lord had given him. We must take

     care not to “go beyond the word of the Lord, to do more or less.”


·         Under the second category, we find that,


1. He was faithful to his God. He had been employed by God to declare

    Solomon the heir to the throne. He would have been unfaithful had he

     permitted another to usurp the crown.


2. He was faithful and deferential to his king. As keeper of the king’s

    conscience, as trusted adviser and counselor, he owed it to the king to

    apprize him of Adonijah’s plot. It is a sacred duty to speak, and he speaks

     — speaks with the profound reverence which even the Lord’s prophet

     owes to the Lord’s anointed (v. 23). (A great churchman confessed that

     he had not served his God as faithfully as he had served his king.

     Nathan was true to both.)


3. He was disinterested. He asks no favors for himself. It is for the

    Hebrew commonwealth, for the Jewish Church, that he acts and speaks.

    He does not abuse his position to extort gifts from a dying man.


4. He was discreet. Wise as serpent, but harmless as dove.” He

    approaches Bathsheba (v. 11), excites her alarm (v. 12), uses her as the

    most likely agent to prevail with the king, instructs her (v. 13), follows

    her (v. 22). “The policy of Nathan was of use as well as his prophecy”

    Thus the prophet teaches the pastor to use all fidelity, to show

    true loyalty and courtesy, to act purely and unselfishly, to use the

     means God has put within his reach with consideration and discretion.


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.”

Now therefore come, let me give [Hebrew counsel] thee

counsel, that thou mayest save [Hebrew and save, i.e., by acting upon

it] thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. The custom of

Eastern kings — to secure their thrones by a massacre of their rivals — has

received many illustrations, notably among the Ottomans, and is receiving

one in Burmah at the present moment (May, 1879). We have Scripture

instances in Judges 9:5; 1 Kings 15:29; II Kings 10:7, 14; 11:1

(compare 1 Samuel 24:21). To put a royal mother to death, along with her

offspring, though perhaps unusual, was not unknown. Rawlinson cites the

instances of Cleopatra, widow of Philip of Macedon, who was murdered

with her infant son Caranus by Olympias; and Roxana, widow of Alexander

the Great, who, with her son, was put to death by Cassander. Nathan does

not say this will be, but may be, Bathsheba’s fate.


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?”  Go and get thee in [Hebrew

come] unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king swear

unto thine handmaid [this oath of David’s to Bathsheba (see vs. 17, 30) is not

elsewhere recorded, but it was evidently well known to Nathan, and

probably, therefore, to others also] saying, Assuredly [Hebrew that  כִּי,

recitantis] Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he [emphatic]

shall sit upon my throne? why therefore doth Adonijah reign?


14 “Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come

in after thee, and confirm thy words.” Behold, while thou yet talkest there

[the original is more graphic, “thou art yet talking… and I”] with the king,

I also win come after thee and confirm [margin, “fill up,” compare

πληρώσω - plaeroso - fulfill - Septuagint. Still an

idiom of the East. Roberts (quoted in the “Biblical Museum”) cites many

illustrations. The meaning is, not to add to, amplify, but to corroborate.

See <110227>1 Kings 2:27; 8:15, 24) 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.”  And Bathsheba went In unto the king into the chamber

[literally inner chamber, ταμίειον - tamieion - storeroom - cubiculum penetrale,

Buxtorf. Same word II Samuel 4:7; 13:10] and the king was very old [the repetition

(see v. 1) is not idle or unmeaning. Here the word refers to feebleness rather

than age. It is mentioned to explain David’s confinement to his chamber]

and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king. [This is

introduced to show the king’s helplessness. It does not prove that “there

was a disinterested witness present” (Rawlinson), for she may have

withdrawn, as Bathsheba did presently (v. 23), and Nathan (v. 32). It is

a graphic touch, painted probably from the life, and by the hand of Nathan,

from whom this narrative is derived.


16 “And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the

king said, What wouldest thou?”  And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance [

compare II Samuel 14:4. But we are hardly justified in seeing here "more than

the ordinary Eastern salutation" (Rawlinson). The Jewish court seems to have

been very ceremonious and stately (1 Samuel 24:8; II Samuel 19:24). The king

was the representative of Heaven]. And the king said, What wouldest thou

[margin What to thee? Not necessarily, What thy supplication? (as Rawlinson).

It rather means generally, "What thy business?" Quid tibi, not quid petis.


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.”  [Said, not to show that Solomon had reason to fear the

worst if Adonijah should succeed, but to prove that there was a

plot. It showed the cloven foot (to reveal a devilish character or an evil

purpose, despite attempts to disguise it.)]


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.”  And thou [instead of אַתָּהוְ, , the Chaldeab, Syriac., and

Vulgate, with many manuscripts , read וְעַתָּה “and now;” but this looks like

an emendation, and “proclivi lectioni praestat ardua -“before the easy reading,

stands the difficult.” Similarly, the second “now” in v. 18

appears as “thou” in 200 manuscripts. These variations are of very little

consequence, but the received text, in both cases, is somewhat the more

spirited] my lord, O king [the repetition (see vs. 18, 21, 24, 27)

illustrates the profound deference and court paid to the Hebrew monarch

(see on v. 16), especially when we remember that these are the words of

a wife], the eyes of all Israel are upon thee (compare ch. 2:15) that

thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the

king after him. This shows that there was no “right of primogeniture.”

The kings of the East have always designated their successor amongst their

sons. “Alyattes designated Croesus; Cyrus designated Cambyses, and

Darius designated Xerxes” (Rawlinson). “The Shah of Persia, at the

eginning of this century, had sixty sons, all brought up by their mothers,

with the hope of succeeding” (Holier, quoted by Stanley). And the kings of

Israel claimed and exercised a similar right (II Chronicles 11:22; 21:3).


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.”

Otherwise [there is no corresponding word in the Hebrew] it shall come to pass,

when my lord the king shall sleep [strictly, “lie down:” see on ch. 2:10]

with his fathers [this phrase, so common in the books of Kings and Chronicles,

only occurs “once in the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 31:16) and once in the

historical books before Kings” (Rawlinson). It was evidently the product of

an age when the nation was settled, and men had their family sepulchres]

that I and my son Solomon shall be counted [Hebrew be] offenders [Hebrew

as margin, sinners. The primary meaning of חָטָא; is “to miss the mark.” Like

ἁμαρτάνειν - hamartanein -  to commit a sin - it came to be used of all erring

and transgression. Bathsheba and Solomon would be obnoxious to Adonijah,

as representing a rival cause; possibly also as guilty of high treason. 


22 “And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet

also came in.”  [Hebrew cam, i.e., to the palace.Came in

almost implies that he entered the room, which he did not till summoned

(v. 23). Observe, Nathan’s words convey no suggestio falsi (a statement of

falsehood). He does not deny a previous interview with Bathsheba, nor does

he confess it. If there is an appearance of artifice (trickery), there was no intention

to deceive. And the artifice, such as it was, was not only harmless, but for the

public good.


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.”  And they told the king, saying,

Behold Nathan the prophet [we are scarcely justified in seeing in this

solemn announcement of his approach” an “indication of the consideration

in which he was held” (Stanley). It is difficult to see how otherwise he could

be announced. It is clear that he was constantly spoken of as “the prophet”

(vs. 10, 22, 34, 38, etc. Compare II Samuel 7:2; 12:25]. And when he was

come in before [Hebrew -  and he came before — three words instead of six]

the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground

[see on vs. 16, 20; and compare v. 31, where we have a similar expression.

“In the Assyrian sculptures, ambassadors are represented with their faces actually

touching the earth before the feet of the monarch” (Rawlinson). This

profound reverence on the part of Nathan is the more remarkable, when we

remember how he had once denounced David to his face (II Samuel 12:7)].


24 “And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall

reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?”  And Nathan said, My Lord,

O king, hast thou said [the Hebrew has no question, but a strong affirmation:

thou hast said,” i.e., “thou must have said (Du hast wohl gesagt.” Bahr). Nathan

puts it thus forcibly, in order to draw from the king a disclaimer], Adonijah shall

reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? [Same words as in

vs. 13, 17, and possibly designedly so. The coincidence conveys the

meaning, “Thou hast sworn Solomon shall reign,” etc. “Thou hast said,

Adonijah shall reign,” etc.]


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.”  For [proof that

the king must have decreed that Adonijah should succeed him. There appears to

be an undertone of reproof in these words. Nathan assumes that Adonijah cannot

have done all this without David’s knowledge and sanction, because “his father

had not displeased him at any time” (v. 6). This uprising was the result of David’s

over indulgence and. want of firmness] he is gone down this day, and hath

slain [see on v. 9] oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and

hath called all the king’s sons, and the captains of the host [Joab was

the captain (v. 19). The plural shows that other high officers had

followed his lead. “Under the captains of the host (v. 25), the servants of

the king (ver. 10) are included” (Bahr). Bahr’s accidental miscitation (v. 10

for v. 9) has apparently led his American translator (p. 24) to the

serious mistake of identifying these “captains of the host” with “the mighty

men” (Gibborim) of v. 10, who, it is distinctly said, “were not with

Adonijah] and Abtathar the priest, and behold, they eat and drink

before him [convivia apta conjurationibus. Grotius] and say, God save

king Adonijah. [Hebrew “let the king (not “king,” as margin) Adonijah

live,” or better, “live the king,” etc. (compare the vivat rex, and the vives and

vivas of later days.) This was the customary acclamation wherewith the

Jews greeted their kings (compare v. 39; 1 Samuel 10:24; II Samuel 16:16:

II Kings 11:12; II Chronicles 23:11).

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.”

But me, even me [Hebrew - I] thy servant [to Nathan this omission was most

significant. He seems to say that he had not been called because he had been

concerned in the appointment of a successor II Samuel 7:13] and Zadok

the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon

[Bahr thinks that “we have in the order of these names a climax, in which

Solomon, as the highest personage, is named last”] 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?”  Is this thing done [אִם i=an, or perhaps, num, “Is it then the

case that,” etc.] by [literally, from with] my lord the king [i.e., with his privity

and by his appointment], and thou hast not showed it unto thy servant

[Hebrew “made thy servant know.” Nathan submits that he has a strong

claim (II Samuel 12:25) to be informed, should there be any change in

the king’s plans], who should sit upon the throne of my lord the king

after him? [Same expression as in v. 20. The repetition was well

calculated to impress upon the king the importance of nominating a

successor at once.


28 “Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she

came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.”  Then king David

[see on v. I] answered and said, Call me Bathsheba [she evidently left the chamber

when Nathan entered it. “This was done, not to avoid the appearance of a mutual

arrangement (Cler., Then. al.), but for reasons of propriety, inasmuch as in

audiences granted by the king to his wife or one of his counselors, no third

person ought to be present unless the king required his assistance.” Keil.]

And she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. [Here, as

in numberless other instances, our translators have disregarded literalness in

favor of euphony (the quality of being pleasing to the ear, especially through

a harmonious combination of words. The Hebrew has here an exact repetition,

came before the king, and stood before the king.” The Authorized Version

rendering was adopted as the more spirited and rhythmical.


29 “And the king swear, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath

redeemed my soul out of all distress,”  And the king sware [see on v., 51]

and said, As the Lord liveth [or “by the life of Jehovah.” Compare “by the life

of Pharaoh” (Genesis 42:15). This was the common form of oath. See, e.g.,

ch.2:24; Judges 8:19; Ruth 3:13; 1 Samuel 14:39; 19:6; 29:6; and

especially Jeremiah 4:2; 5:2; Hosea 4:15. It is characteristic of

David to introduce into the formula some such clause as the following],

that hath redeemed my soul [i.e., life] out of all distress. Same

expression as in II Samuel 4:9. Similar expressions are found in

Psalm 25:22, and 34:22. The repeated deliverance out of straits and

danger — “out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul”

was one of the most remarkable features of David’s life, and it is no

wonder that he repeatedly commemorates it, converting every adjuration

into an act of thanksgiving. Similarly, Jacob (Genesis 48:16.)


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.”

Even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of Israel,

saying, Assuredly [Hebrew  כּי that, often prefixed to the oratio directa

(direct speech; plain words; not lending any emphasis ( = immo), as Keil

says the first and third כּי of this verse do, but in English simply redundant.

See on vs. 13, 17] Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit

upon my throne [same words as in vs. 13, 17, 24. These close repetitions

are the habit of the East] in my stead, even so [Hebrew that so] will I

(certainly [not inHebrew] do this day.


31 “Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence

to the king [see on vs. 16, 23],  , and said, Let my lord king David live for

ever.”  This hyperbolical expression is here only used of a

Hebrew monarch. It was constantly addressed to the Babylonian and

Persian kings. See Daniel 2:4; 3:9; 5:10; 6:21; Nehemiah 2:3.


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.”  And king David said [this prompt and vigorous action shows

that David’s force of character and mental power were unimpaired], Call

me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of

Jehoiada. [“ the order of the names marks the position of the persons with

respect to the matter in hand.” Rawlinson]. And they came before the



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:”   The king also said [Hebrew “And the king said,”

which is everyway preferable. The “also” is somewhat confusing], Take with you

the servants [i.e., the Cherethites and Pelethites, v. 38] of your lord,

[Hebrew - lords; probably a pluralis majestatis - the use of a plural word

to refer honorifically to a single person or entity. (compare  Genesis 39:2;

42:30; II Kings 2:3, 5, 16), suggested to David by the usus loquendi  ( the meaning

of a word in common usage of the time) of the court. This expression seems at

first a strange periphrasis for “my servants.” But David naturally adopts the

language those around him were always using. See v. 43; also II Samuel 11:11,

and 20:6. [Note: The latter passage, which refers to the king, has the plural;

the former, referring to Joab, the singular] and cause Solomon my son to ride

upon mine own mule, [literally, “the she mule” (the most prized in the East.

Compare Judges 5:10, Hebrew) “which is mine.” This was not merely a mark

of honour (compare Genesis 41:43; Esther 6:8-9), but a public and very significant

indication of David’s will respecting his successor. The populace would

perceive at once who was destined to sit in David’s seat. “The Rabbins tell

us that it was death to ride on the king’s mule without his permission”

(Rawlinson). פִרְדָּה, the feminine form is only found here and in vs. 38, 44.

The mule would seem to have been a recent importation into Palestine

we never read of them before the time of David — and the Israelites were

forbidden to breed them (Leviticus 19:19). Their use, consequently,

was naturally restricted to royal or distinguished personages (II Samuel

13:29). Wordsworth sees in the word a proof that David had not disobeyed

God by multiplying horses to himself], and bring him down to Gihon.

[Not Gibeon, which Thenius most arbitrarily would substitute for the

received text. Where was Gihon? The popular belief (accepted by Bahr and

Keil, as well as by some geographers) is that it was in the valley of the Son

of Hinnom, a part of which still bears the name of Gihon, i.e., to the west

of Jerusalem, and not far from the Jaffa gate. By many indeed the present

Birket-es-Sultan is identified with the Lower Pool of Gihon. But others

(Ferguson, Rawlinson, etc.) see in it the ancient name of the Tyropaeon.

Scripture does not speak of it as a spring, though the “source of the waters

of Gihon” is mentioned II Chronicles 32:30, Hebrew.  The text shows

that it was below the city (“bring him down upon Gihon,” v. 33. Compare also

v. 40). II Chronicles 33:14, speaks of “Gihon in the valley,” where it

is very noticeable that the word used is Nachal (i.e. Wady, watercourse).

But this “is the word always employed for the valley of the Kedron, east of

Jerusalem, the so called valley of Jehoshaphat; ge (ravine or glen) being as

constantly employed for the valley of Hinnom, south and west of the town”

(Grove,” Dict. Bible,” art. Gihon). It is also to be noticed that the text last

cited mentions Gihon in connection with Ophel, which lies southeast of

Jerusalem.. The Chaldean, Arabic, and Syriac are probably right, therefore, in

identifying Gihon here with Siloam (which lies at the foot of Ophel), in

favor of which it may further be said that it would be admirably suited for

David’s purpose — of a counter demonstration — and that whether En-

Rogel is to be found at the Well of the Virgin or the Well of Job. Siloam is

at no great distance from either, and quite within earshot, whereas the

traditional Gihon is altogether out of the way. It must be borne in mind that

this procession to and from Gihon was ordained, not because there was any

special reason for anointing Solomon there ¯ for it was not a holy place —

but purely as a demonstration to the populace, and to checkmate the

conspirators. It was probably a public place, and would accommodate a large

concourse (Poole).


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.”   And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet

The prophets constantly performed this ceremony. Samuel anointed both

Saul and David; Elisha anointed Jehu (II Kings 9:1-3), and was

commissioned to anoint Hazael (here ch. 19:15-16) ] anoint him [the

king, being a sacred personage, was set apart to the office, like the priest

and prophet, by anointing. Saul was probably anointed twice (1 Samuel

10:1; 11:15. Compare ch. 12:3). David was anointed thrice (ibid. ch. 16:13;

II Samuel 2:4; 5:3. Solomon was anointed twice (v. 39; 1 Chronicles 29:22).

The Rabbins have always held that subsequent kings were not anointed,

where the succession was regular. But this opinion must be taken quantum valet

(for what it is worth). It is true that we only read of the anointing

of Jehu (II Kings 9:6), Joash (ibid. 11:12), and Jehoahaz (ibid. 23:30),

and that in these three cases the accession was irregular. But it is obvious

that other kings may have been anointed as well, though the fact is not

recorded. There would be no reason for recording it in ordinary cases It

seems hardly likely, too, that any king would readily dispense with an

ordinance which would so much strengthen his title] there king over

Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet [the sound of the trumpet would

almost seem to have been a necessary accompaniment of coronations, or

the proclamation of a new king. See II Samuel 15:10; II Kings 9:13; 11:14],

and say, God save king Solomon. [See on v. 25.]


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.”  Then ye shall come up

(after him [not in the Septuagint or Codex Vaticanus]

that he may [Hebrew -  and he shall] come and sit upon my throne [in

every possible way his accession was to be proclaimed and confirmed], for

he shall be king in my stead [David i.e., virtually abdicates in Solomon’s

favor. Compare vs. 46, 51, 53; 1 Chronicles 29:23, 26], and I have

appointed him [he and him are emphasized in the original] to be ruler

over Israel and over Judah. It is possible, as Bahr thinks, that Israel and

Judah were severally mentioned because David had once been king over

Judah only, and because Israel had gone over to the side of Absalom. It is

more probable, however, that “Israel and Judah” was even then the current

designation of the two component parts of the realm (see II Samuel 2:9-10;

19:11, 41, etc.). Besides, we can hardly suppose that the historian has

in every case, though he probably has in this, preserved the exact words of

the speaker; and it need cause us no surprise had he put into David’s

mouth the phraseology of a later age. In the nature of things he can only

give us the substance of conversations such as these.


36 “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said,

Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.”  And Benaiah the son

of Johoiada [probably he spoke, not because the execution of the order depended

upon him (Bahr); for both Zadok and Nathan had a much more important part to

perform, but as a blunt soldier who was accustomed to speak his mind] answered

the king and said, Amen: the Lord God [literally, “Jehovah, He God,” etc.]

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.”  As the Lord hath been with my lord the king [compare

1 Samuel 20:13. “This phrase expresses a very high degree of the Divine

favor”. See Genesis 26:3-4; 28:15; 39:2, 21; Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:5;

1 Chronicles 22:11, etc.], even so be He with Solomon, and make his

throne greater than the throne of my lord king David. [This was said from

a full and honest heart, not to flatter David’s vanity (Thenius). It is thoroughly

characteristic of the man so far as we know him. And the prayer was fulfilled

(ch. 3:11-12).]


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.”  So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites

[these were the royal bodyguard — Σωματοφύλακες - Somatophulakes -

bodyguards -  Josephus calls them — who were commanded by Benaiah

(II Samuel 8:18; 15:18; 20:23; 23:23). But while their functions are pretty well

understood, great difference of opinion exists as to the origin or meaning of the

words. By some they are supposed to be Gentile names. A tribe of Cherethites is

mentioned 1 Samuel 30:14. (Compare Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5),

and in close connection with the Philistines (v. 16 - cited in Ezekiel above).

Hence Cherethite has been thought to be another name for Philistine; and as the

Septuagint and Syriac render the word “Cretans,” it has been conjectured that the

Philistines had their origin from Crete. They did come from Caphtor, and that is

probably Crete (see Genesis 10:14; Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7; Deuteronomy 2:23).

פְּלֵתִי again, is not unlike פְּלִשְּׁתִי  In favor of this view is the fact that David

certainly had a bodyguard of foreign mercenaries (II Samuel 15:18, where the

“Gittites” are connected with the Cherethites). Nor does it make against it that

two designations” would thus “be employed side by side for one and the same

people” — as if we should speak of Britons and Englishmen. For the names look

like a paronomasia (a play on words)— of which the Jews were very fond —

and a trick of this kind would at once account for the tautology. [Since writing this,

I find the same idea has already occurred to Ewald.] But the other view, adopted by

Gesenius, is that the names are names of office and function. Cherethite he

would derive from תָרַכ, cut, slay; and by Cherethites he would understand

executioners,” which the royal bodyguard were in ancient despotisms

(Genesis 39:1, Hebrew - Daniel 2:14, etc. See on here, ch. 2:25).

In the Pelethites (פֶּלֶת,, swiftness) he would see the public couriers

(ἄγγαροι - aggori - ) of Eastern monarchies (see Heroditus 8:98 and II Chronicles

30:6). We see the guard discharging the function first named in II Kings 10:25;

11:4, 8; and the latter in here, ch. 14:27 (margin)] went down

[i.e., from the palace on Mount Zion] and caused Solomon to ride upon

King David’s mule, and brought him to [עַל -  compare ch. 2:26] Gihon [

Chaldean, Syriac, Arabic, Shiloha].


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.”  And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil

[Hebrew - the oil. The “holy anointing oil,” Exodus 30:25, 31, compounded

as directed in vs. 23-25, was evidently part of the furniture of the tabernacle

( ibid. ch. 31:11; 39:38). Eleazer was charged with its preservation

(Numbers 4:16), and the Rabbins say it lasted till the captivity] out of

the tabernacle [the tabernacle on Mount Zion, containing the ark

(II Samuel 6:17; 1 Chronicles 15:1) must be meant here. There was not

time to have gone to the tabernacle at Gihon , which was three

hours distance from Jerusalem. Though Abiathar had charge of this

sanctuary, yet Zadok would readily gain access to it, especially in the

king’s name] and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet [compare

II Samuel 15:10; II Kings 9:13; 11:14; and all the people said,

God save king Solomon. [Notice the exact fulfillment of the threefold

charge of v. 34 and its result. Solomon was confirmed in his office by the

suffrages of the people


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.”  And all the people came up after him [same expression as

v. 35. The procession, the sound of the trumpets, etc., had collected a

large crowd, which followed Solomon on his return], and the people

piped [Hebrew - were piping] with pipes [pipes or flutes were used on

occasions of rejoicing (Isaiah 5:12; 30:29. Compare 1 Samuel 10:5), and

so of mourning (Jeremiah 48:36; Matthew 9:23). It is true that a

very slight change (מְחֹלְלִיפ בְּחלִיִם ] instead of מִחַלְּלִים בַּחֲלִלִים) will

give the meaning, “dancing with dances,” which Ewald prefers, on the

ground that “all the people” could not have produced their pipes at a

moment’s notice. But the objection loses its force when it is observed

that the text implies that only some of the people piped. “All

the people came up… and the people,” etc. Besides, even if it were not so,

some allowance is surely to be made for Eastern hyperbole. And the

received text is to be preferred on other grounds. The Septuagint, however, has

ἐχόρευον ἐν χοροῖς - echoreuon en chorois - rejoiced with great joy; dancings],

and rejoiced with great joy [Hebrew - “were rejoicing a great joy”], and the

earth rent [this is certainly a strangly hyperbolical expression. For [בָּקַע;

strictly means to cleave asunder, tear open (see, e.g., Numbers 16:31;

Amos 1:13; II Chronicles 25:12). And Thenius  suggests a slight emendation

of the text, viz., [וַתִּתָּקַע  (i.e., “resounded”) for [וַתִּבָּקַע which would obviate

this difficulty. He points out that while the Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus.

has ἐρράγη - erragae - breaks like  wine skins drying out, some versions

have ἤχησεν - aechaesen - and the Vulgate insonuit. But perhaps it is safer to

keep to the lectio ardua] with the sound of them [Hebrew -  “with their voices”].



                        TWO TRIUMPHANT ENTRIES


Twice in the history of Jerusalem has a Son of David ridden through her streets,

sitting on ass or mule, amid the shouts and praises of the people. Let us compare

the two occasions. They will furnish a further proof and illustration of the typical

character of Solomon; a further proof that a “greater than Solomon is here.”




CASE AFTER AN ANOINTING. — Solomon had been anointed by

prophet and priest: Jesus, the Divine Solomon, by God Himself. Solomon’s

anointing was with holy oil out of the tabernacle (v. 39); that of Jesus

with the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38). Solomon was

anointed to be king: Jesus to be King, and Priest, and Prophet.


·         EACH RODE THROUGH THE CITY AS KING (vs. 34-35). —

“God save King Solomon,” cried the populace. “Blessed is the king that

cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38). In each case the words

were true, “Behold thy King cometh” (Matthew 21:5; John 12:15).



·         EACH RODE AS THE SON OF DAVID (here v. 43; Matthew 21:9).

Did the populace remember the triumphal progress of Solomon, one

thousand years before, through those same streets, as they cried,

“Hosanna to the Son of David (>Matthew 21:9-15).



Each, that is to say, was acknowledged as king by popular acclaim. In

each case, a curious Oriental hyperbole expresses the enthusiastic

rejoicing and the deafening cries of the throng. “The earth rent” (v. 40).

“I tell you that, if these should hold their  piece, the stones would

immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40; compare Matthew 21:10).

But here the resemblance ends.


Henceforward how great and striking is the contrast.




dignitaries of the realm, both in church and state, prophet and priest,

soldier and civilian, all assembled to do Solomon honor. But our Lord had

none of these to do Him reverence. “Master, rebuke Thy disciples”

(Luke 19:39). The pomp and grandeur were all on the side of Solomon.



AND REIGN ON THE CROSS. The former rode to ease and glory and

pomp and unparalleled magnificence; the latter to shame and spitting, to

denial and death.



GLORY. The triumphal entry of Solomon was an ordinary thing. Such

royal progresses have often been before and since. But never has the world

seen such an entry as that of our Redeemer. He might have reigned as a

king, but He chose to suffer as a felon: He might have lived for self, He

chose to die for others. Shall we deny Him our hosannas? Shall not earth

and heaven ring with His praises?


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?”

And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it

[it is probable they “were listening with some anxiety to hear if anything

would occur.” Rawlinson] as they had made an end [Hebrew “and they had

finished”] of eating, And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet

[the original almost implies that Joab’s practised ear was the first to catch

the note of the trumpet. He seems to have been the first to suspect its

significance], he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an

uproar? [More exactly, “in commotion.”  הומָה, an onomatopoetic word,

like our English “hum.” We speak of the “hum of the city,” “the buzz of

business,” etc.]





        The Dethronement of the False by the Enthronement of the True

                                                  (vs. 39-41)


When Bathsheba and Nathan brought David news of Adonijah’s revolt, and

told him that Joab and Abiathar were at the coronation feast at En-rogel, it

is noteworthy that the king made no direct attack on the conspirators. He

merely commanded that Solomon should be seated on the royal mule, that

he should ride in state to Gihon, and that there Zadok should anoint him

king, and proclaim by the sound of trumpet that he was appointed ruler. It

was this which paralyzed the traitorous assembly. The sound of the trumpet

was to their scheme what the blast of the rams’ horns was to the walls of

Jericho, when they fell in irreparable ruin. David’s method was the wisest,

the surest; for it not only removed a present evil, but provided a future

good. The lesson is obvious, and is susceptible of wide application; that the

false is most surely dethroned by the enthronement of the true. The strong

man armed keeps his goods in peace, until a stronger than he shall come.

(See Luke 11:21-22.) Suggested applications of this principle:



OF WHAT IS WISE AND GOOD. The Psalmist hated “vain thoughts,”

because he loved God’s law (Psalm 119:113). When the heart is

empty, swept, and garnished, there is room for worse evils to come

(Matthew 12:44). The full mind and heart are safe. Apply to the

conquest of wandering thoughts in worship, of vanity in children, etc.



STRONGER WILL. We are early taught this. Every child carries out his

own wishes without regard to others, till he recognizes that the parent’s

will is authoritative. Sooner or later there is struggle, and only when it is

decided in one way is there rest. Similarly we have to learn to subordinate

our thoughts to God’s revelation, our wishes to His will, and this lesson is

more painfully learned as the years pass by and the habit of self rule grows




WORTHY LOVE. When love is set on the unworthy, force is useless,

argument is vain. But if the love is diverted to a nobler object, it naturally

disentangles its tendrils from the unworthy. In the highest sphere it may be

said of love to our Lord, “that love shall all vain love expel.”


·         ERROR IS TO BE SUBDUED BY TRUTH. The hatred of artisans to

machinery when first introduced was not conquered by dragoons, nor by

prisons, but by the discovery on their part of the mistake they had

ignorantly made. So with all errors. We shall not destroy heathenism by the

abuse of the idols, but by THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS CHRIST!


·         CARE IS TO BE ELIMINATED BY PRAYER. In many hearts care is

enthroned. To many a one our Lord might say, “Thou art careful and

troubled about many things.” We cannot reason away our anxieties, nor

force them from our minds, but we can have the rest our children have,

who never trouble about the morrow, because they trust in us. It would be

vain to say, “Be careful for nothing,” unless the apostle could add the

alternative, “but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with

thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God; and the peace of God

which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds

through Christ Jesus..” (Philippians 4:6-7)



BY WHAT IS NOBLER THAN THEY. — Apply this broadly, e.g.,

wholesome literature must defeat pernicious. Low amusements,

intoxicating drinks, etc., will pass away when there is the establishment of

nobler substitutes for these.  The whole subject is summed up in Christ —

the true King of humanity, the incarnation of all that is worthy of being

loved and enthroned. Draw the analogy between Solomon the anointed king,

as he rides on the mule into Jerusalem amid the acclamations of the people,

and the entry of our Lord into Jerusalem as described Matthew 21. If

worldliness, or selfishness, or ambition, or lust has been reigning in your

heart,  the usurped will be dethroned when you welcome Christ as King

and say, “O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over

us, but now we acknowledge Thee to be our Lord, to the glory of

God the Father.”


Descend to Thy Jerusalem, O Lord,

Her faithful children cry with one accord;

Come, ride in triumph on; behold, we lay

Our guilty lusts and proud wills in Thy way.

Thy road is ready, Lord; Thy paths, made straight,

In longing expectation seem to wait

The consecration of Thy beauteous feet,

And, hark, hosannas loud Thy footsteps greet.


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.”  And while he yet spake, behold,

Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest [Compare II Samuel 15:36; 17:17. His

experience had marked him out for the post of watchman] came [That he had not

arrived before shows how prompt, and even hurried, had been the measures taken

by Solomon’s party] and Adonijah said unto him [Hebrew and Septuagint

omit “unto him”] Come in [Hebrew come. See on v. 22. “Come in” suggests

the idea of a house or tent, whereas the feast was al fresco - in open air];

for thou art a valiant man - “able,” “honest,” or “worthy man” (compare v. 52;

same word in Hebrew; also Proverbs 12:4) would be nearer the mark. “Valiant”

is clearly out of place] and bringest good tidings. [A similar expression

II Samuel 18:27. It was evidently a familiar saying. The idea, “a good man

will bring good news” corresponds with that of the proverb of 1 Samuel 24:13.

Adonijah’s misgivings reveal themselves in these words. He fears the worst,

but strives to put on a cheerful face and to encourage his guests.]


43 “And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David

hath made Solomon king.”  And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily

[Rather, “nay but,” “on the contrary” (immo vero - however to the contrary). See

Genesis 17:19, Hebrew, “Nay, but Sarah thy wife,” etc., and Gesen., Thesaurus,

sub voce (under the breath; in a quiet manner) אֲבָל.. This particle has not

always an objecting force” (Rawlinson) — see Genesis 42:21, and especially

II Samuel 14:5; II Kings 4:14 — but only in the later Hebrew, e.g., II Chronicles

19:3; 33:17] 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 (see on v. 38), 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.”  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 [קִרְיָה - the ame

word as in v. 41. Elsewhere almost exclusively found in poetry] rang again

[rather, “is in commotion.” Same expression in v. 41 and Ruth 1:19, where

it is translated, “the city was moved”]. This is the noise [Hebrew - voice]

that ye have heard.

46 “And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.”  And also

[the same two words are found at the beginning of vs. 47 and 48. They accord

well with the breathless and excited state of the speaker, and suggest how each

successive detail told on the hearers] Solomon sitteth [rather, “sat, took his seat,”

 ἐκάθισεν - ekathisen - sit downed, take one’s seat; sit as judge  (Septuagint) aorist.

See v. 35] on the throne of the kingdom [rather, “the royal throne.” All David’s

directions were now fulfilled].


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.”  And moreover [וְגַם] as before]

the king’s servants [see on v. 33] came to bless our lord king David

[Jonathan here refers in all probability to the words of Benaiah, vs. 36-37.

He does not know the exact particulars, and ascribes to the “servants”

the words of their commander. Of course it is possible that “the bodyguard

took up the words of Jehoiada (Benaiah?) their captain and repeated them

with some slight alteration.” Rawlinson] saying, God [so the Keri. The

Cethib has “thy God”] make the name of Solomon better than thy name

and make his throne greater than thy throne [This prayer was fulfilled

(ch. 3:12; 4:21-24]. And the king bowed himself [in worship. Compare

Genesis 47:31] 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.”  These last words are added because it is quite an  exceptional

thing for a king to see his successor on the throne.]




The Benedictus of the Old Testament, and the Benedictus of the New

                                          (v.48; Luke 1:68).


On two memorable occasions this doxology has been found on the lips of

the saints. No doubt the formula, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,” was

a favorite one with the people of Israel; the words were often used (compare

Psalm 41:13; 72:18). But there are two occasions of preeminent interest and

importance when this thanksgiving broke from joyful lips. Let us consider them.


1. It was used (as we see) by the aged King David on the day that he saw

                his son Solomon  a forerunner of the Messiah, seated on the throne

                of Israel.

            2. It was used by the aged priest Zacharias on the day that he saw his son

                John, the forerunner of Messiah, brought into the commonwealth

                of Israel. It is just possible, but hardly probable, that the words, as used

                by the latter (under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, Luke 1:67) had a

                 reference to their use by the former. But it may be instructive, nevertheless,

                 to compare these two ascriptions of praise, for they are more or less

                 characteristic, the one of the old dispensation, the other of the new. Let us







Ø      They are alike in three particulars.


o        Each Benedictus was in some sort the Nunc Dimittis(a brief song

      of praise like Simeon in Luke 2:25-35) of an aged saint. Each

      proceeded from a man “old and stricken in years” (1 Kings 1:1;

      Luke 1:7); each from a man of fervent piety (1 Kings 11:4; Luke 1:6);

each was suggested by the speaker’s son rising up to take

his place, and to carry on his and God’s work.


o        Each Benedictus was connected with a son of David. The first was a

grateful acknowledgment of the anointing of a Son of David to be King;

the second was in thankful anticipation of the coming of the Son of

David to be Prophet, Priest, and King. Note: all the praises of

Scripture connect themselves directly or indirectly WITH CHRIST!


o        Each Benedictus was elicited by Gods gracious fulfillment of His

promise. The first commemorated the realization of the promise of a

successor made through the prophet Nathan (II Samuel 7:12); the

second, the (proximate) fulfillment of the promises of a Saviour, made

by “all the holy prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70), and of

which the promise of II Samuel 7, was a foretaste and pledge. Note:

in all ages the faithfulness of God has elicited the thankfulness of

His people.


Ø      But let us now consider their points of contrast. These are four in

number, and show how the thanksgiving of David was for temporal, and

that of Zacharias for spiritual benefits.


o        The Benedictus of David celebrated the ascent of the throne of Israel by

his Son; that of Zacharias, the leaving of the throne of Heaven by

the Son of God. Solomon was beginning his glory: Jesus had laid His

aside. Solomon was going to be ministered unto: Jesus to minister to



o        The Benedictus of David commemorated the gift of a son to rule His

people: that of Zacharias, the gift of a Saviour to redeem the world

(Luke 1:68, 77, 79).


o        The Benedictus of David proclaimed that the succession to the throne

was preserved in his house: that of Zacharias, that through the “house of

David” a “horn of salvation” was raised up for men. The aged king,

doubtless, thought that in Solomon God had “made the horn of David to

bud” (Psalm 132:17); but Zacharias celebrated the true fulfillment of

that promise — its blossoming into salvation.


o        The Benedictus of David celebrated the reign of a son who should be a

man of peace (1 Chronicles 22:9): that of Zacharias, the coming of one

who should guide men’s “feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). We

said each Benedictus was a sort of Nunc Dimittis. That last sentence

of David’s — “Mine eyes also seeing it” — carry our thoughts to

another of the Evangelical Hymns, the Nunc Dimittis of Simeon —

“Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” Zacharias was not a greater

poet than David. And David, as well as he, spake by the Holy Ghost

(II Samuel 23:2). Yet how much grander, and every way nobler,

is the Benedictus of the latter than that of the former; of the

New Testament than the Old. It is because the theme is

so much higher, and the benefits are so much greater, because



49 “And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose

up, and went every man his way.”  And all the guests [Hebrew - called,

Septuagint -  κλητοὶ - klaetoi - called; invited; chosen] that were with

[Hebrew to] Adonijah were afraid [Hebrew -  trembled] and rose up

[the Septuagint omits] and went every man his way. [This fear and flight

betray a consciousness of guilt. They cannot have believed in the right of



50 “And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went,

and caught hold on the horns of the altar.”  And Adonijah feared because

of Solomon and he arose and went and caught hold of the horns of the altar.

[Compare ch. 2:28. Probably the altar of Mount Zion, ibid. ch. 3:15; II Samuel

6:17. Though it is impossible to say positively whether this or the altar at

Gibeon (ch. 3:4) or that recently erected on the threshing floor of

Araunah (II Samuel 24:25) is meant. For the “horns,” see Exodus

27:2; 38:2; and compare 30:2. They were of shittim (i.e., acacia) wood

overlaid with brass, and served a double purpose. Victims were bound to

them (Psalm 118:27), and blood was put upon them, Exodus 29:12. As to the

altar as a place of sanctuary, see on ch. 2:28. Evidently a right of sanctuary

existed amongst both Jews and Gentiles at the time of the Exodus, and probably

from time immemorial. It is referred to in Exodus 21:14, but it was much

circumscribed by the appointment of the cities of refuge (Numbers 35:10 sqq.)

By “laying hold of the horns the offender thereby placed himself under the


 (Bahr, “Symbolik,” 1:474)


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.”  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 [this repetition of the title is striking.

Both courtiers and criminals hasten to give the young king his new honors. In

Adonijah’s mouth it is also a virtual abdication of his claim to the throne

and a direct acknowledgment of the new monarch. But see on vs. 1 and

35.] swear unto me today [Compare II Samuel 19:23. This is one of many

passages which show how lightly the Jews esteemed promises in

comparison with oaths. The sentiment possibly took its rise in the oaths

sworn by the Divine Being (Genesis 22:16; 24:7; Exodus 16:16,

etc.), though it is possible, on the other hand, that these asseverations were

made in deference to the popular sentiment. Be that as it may, the oath held

a much more conspicuous and important place in the Jewish than the

Christian economy. See Genesis 21:23; 31:23; Numbers 14:2; 30:2;

Judges 15:12; 21:1; 1 Samuel 14:28; Jeremiah 5:2, and, to omit

other passages, here, chps. 1:13; 2:8, 23, 42. Even our Lord, who rebuked

the habit (Matthew 5:34-37; 23:16-22) respected the adjuration of

Caiaphas, and St. Paul frequently appeals to God (Acts 26:29;  II Corinthians

1:23; 11:31; Philippians 1:8.) The Christianity, as it has gradually begotten

a reverence for truth, has made the simple word into a bond] that he will not slay

his servant [Compare“I will be King,” v. 5.] with the sword [the usual form of

capital punishment, ch. 2:8, 25, 31, 46. Adonijah indirectly confesses that

he had merited death].


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.”  And Solomon said [i.e., he refused to swear],

If he will shew himself a worthy man [בֶּן־חַיִל, compare אִיש־חַיִל, v.42],

there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth [i.e., not a single hair shall

be injured. Same expression 1 Samuel 14:45; II Samuel 14:11; Acts 27:34.

It was evidently a familiar saying] but if wickedness shall be found in

him, [i.e., if he shall commit any fresh crime] he shall die [Hebrew  -

“then he shall die,” emphatic.]


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.”    So King Solomon sent and they brought him down

[The altar was elevated: probably a slope, not steps (Exodus 20:26) led to it]

from [Hebrew  - from upon. He was still clinging to it] the altar. And he

came and bowed himself to king Solomon [i.e., made obeisance to him

as king. Compare vs. 16, 23, 31] and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine

house. This was not a sentence of banishment from court, but merely a

dismissal to a private life, involving a tacit admonition to live quietly and be

thankful that his life was spared him.





            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 willful son.



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.”



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

the ignis fatuus - a will-o'-the-wisp., 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)



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.



            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)



(Proverbs  29:1) 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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