Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
Now - Rather, "and." The conjunction has here, probably, the same sort of connecting force which it has at the opening of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, etc., and implies that the historian regards his work as a continuation of a preceding history.
King David - The expression "king David," instead of the simpler "David," is characteristic of the writer of Kings. (See the introduction to the Book of Kings) The phrase is comparatively rare in Chronicles and Samuel.
Stricken in, years - David was perhaps now in his first year. He was thirty years old when he was made king in Hebron 2 Samuel 5:4; he reigned in Hebron seven years and six months 2 Samuel 2:11; 1 Chronicles 3:4; and he reigned thirty-three years at Jerusalem 2 Samuel 5:5. The expression had here been used only of persons above eighty Genesis 18:11; Genesis 24:1; Joshua 13:1; Joshua 23:1 : but the Jews at this time were not long-lived. No Jewish monarch after David, excepting Solomon and Manasseh, exceeded sixty years.
Clothes - Probably "bed-clothes." The king was evidently bed-ridden 1 Kings 1:47.
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.
Since the Jewish law allowed polygamy, David's conduct in following - what has been said to have been - physician's advice, was blameless.
So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king.
And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
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.
The narrative concerning - Abishag, the Shunammite (see the margin reference "a"), is introduced as necessary for a proper understanding of Adonijah's later history (see 1 Kings 2:13-25.) But even as it stands, it heightens considerably the picture drawn of the poor king's weak and helpless condition, of which Adonijah was not ashamed to take advantage for his own aggrandizement. Adonijah was born while David reigned at Hebron, and was therefore now between thirty-three and forty years of age. He was David's fourth son, but had probably become the eldest by the death of his three older brothers. He claimed the crown by right of primogeniture 1 Kings 2:15, and secretly to his partisans (compare 1 Kings 1:10) announced his intention of assuming the sovereignty. It was well known to him, and perhaps to the Jews generally, that David intended to make Solomon his successor 1 Kings 1:13.
To run before him - That is, he assumed the same quasi-royal state as Absalom had done, when he contemplated rebellion 2 Samuel 15:1.
And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
Had not displeased him - i. e. "His father had never checked or thwarted him all his life."
A very goodly man - Here, too, Adonijah resembled Absalom 2 Samuel 14:25. The Jews, like the other nations of antiquity, regarded the physical qualities of rulers as of great importance, and wished their kings to be remarkable for strength, stature, and beauty 1 Samuel 9:2. Adonijah's personal advantages no doubt helped to draw the people to him.
His mother ... - i. e. Haggith bare Adonijah after Maacah bare Absalom 2 Samuel 3:3-4. The words in italics are not in the original; hence, some, by a slight alteration, read "David begat him."
And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
Joab's defection on this occasion, after his faithful adherence to David during the troubles caused by Absalom 2 Samuel 18:2-17, may be accounted for by his fear that Solomon would be a "man of rest" 1 Chronicles 22:9 and by his preference for the character of Adonijah. He may also have thought that Adonijah, as the eldest son 1 Kings 1:5, had almost a right to succeed.
Abiathar's defection is still more surprising than Joab's. For his history, see 1 Samuel 22:20 note. Hereto, David and he had been the firmest of friends. It has been conjectured that he had grown jealous of Zadok, and feared being supplanted by him.
But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.
There is some difficulty in understanding how Zadok and Abiathar came to be both "priests" at this time, and in what relation they stood to one another. The best explanation seems to be that Abiathar was the real high priest, and officiated at the sanctuary containing the ark of the covenant in Zion, while Zadok performed the offices of chief priest at the tabernacle of Witness at Gibeon 1 Chronicles 16:39.
For Benaiah, see 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:23; 2 Samuel 23:20-21. For Nathan, see 2 Samuel 7:2-3, 2 Samuel 7:17; 2 Samuel 12:1-15, 2 Samuel 12:25. As privy to all David's plans 1 Kings 1:24, he had no doubt fully approved the order of succession which the king was known to intend.
Shimei and Rei - Shimei and Rei are perhaps David's two brothers, Shimma and Raddai 1 Chronicles 2:13-14.
And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants:
Adonijah's feast was probably of a sacrificial character, and intended to inaugurate him as king. Compare the "sacrifices" of Absalom 2 Samuel 15:12.
Zoheleth - No satisfactory explanation has been given of this name. Large blocks of stone always attract attention in the East, and receive names which are often drawn from some trivial circumstance. Sinai and Palestine are full of such "Hajars," which correspond to the "Ebens" or "stones" of Holy Scripture. (Compare Genesis 28:22; Joshua 4:9; 1 Samuel 6:14.) For En-Rogel, see the margin reference.
But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not?
The son of Haggith - Compare the margin reference. This expression was well chosen to touch the pride of Bath-sheba. "Adonijah; not thy son, but the son of thy rival, Haggith."
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.
It would have been in accordance with general Eastern custom for Solomon to suffer death, if Adonijah had succeeded in his attempt. But to have executed his mother also would have been an unusual severity. Still, such cases sometimes occurred: Cassander put to death Roxana, the widow of Alexander the Great, at the same time with her son, the young Alexander.
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?
Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
Confirm thy words - "Establish" them, by giving a second testimony. Nathan thinks it best to move David's affections first through Bath-sheba, before he comes in to discuss the matter as one of state policy, and to take the king's orders upon it.
And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king.
Into the chamber - The "bed-chamber" or "inner chamber." Abishag was a disinterested witness present, who heard all that Bath-sheba said to David.
And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou?
Bath-sheba bowed, like the woman of Tekoah 2 Samuel 14:4, with the humble prostration of a suppliant. Hence, the king's question, "What wouldest thou?"
And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne.
And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not:
And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called.
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.
Tell them who shall sit on the throne - Side by side with what may be called the natural right of hereditary succession, there existed in the old world, and especially in the East, a right, if not of absolutely designating a successor, yet at any rate of choosing one among several sons. Thus, Cyrus designated Cambyses; and Darius designated Xerxes; and a still more absolute right of nomination was exercised by some of the Roman emperors.
Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.
Shall sleep - This euphemism for death, rare in the early Scriptures - being found only once in the Pentateuch (margin reference.), and once also in the historical books before Kings 2 Samuel 7:12 - becomes in Kings and Chronicles the ordinary mode of speech (see 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43, etc.; 2 Chronicles 9:31; 2 Chronicles 12:16, etc.). David uses the metaphor in one psalm Psa 13:3. In the later Scriptures it is, of course, common. (Jeremiah 51:39; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 9:24; John 11:11; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, etc.)
And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in.
Nathan came into the palace, not into the chamber, where he might not enter unannounced. Bath-sheba retired before Nathan entered, in accordance with Oriental ideas of propriety. So, when Bath-sheba was again sent for 1 Kings 1:28, Nathan retired (compare 1 Kings 1:32).
And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground.
And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne?
Hast thou said - Thou hast said. In the original no question is asked. Nathan assumes, as far as words go, that the king has made this declaration. He wishes to draw forth a disclaimer.
For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Adonijah.
But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called.
Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not shewed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?
Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king.
And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress,
"As the Lord liveth" was the most common form of oath among the Israelites (e. g. Judges 8:19; 1 Samuel 14:39; 1 Samuel 19:6). It was unique to David to attach a further clause to this oath - a clause of thankfulness for some special mercy 1 Samuel 25:34, or for God's constant protection of him (here and in 2 Samuel 4:9).
Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day.
Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever.
A lower and humbler obeisance than before 1 Kings 1:16. In the Assyrian sculptures ambassadors are represented with their faces actually touching the earth before the feet of the monarch.
And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king.
The combination of the high priest, the prophet, and the captain of the bodyguard (the Cherethites and Pelethites, 1 Kings 1:38), would show the people that the proceedings had the king's sanction. The order of the names marks the position of the persons with respect to the matter in hand.
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:
Mules and horses seem to have been first employed by the Israelites in the reign of David, and the use of the former was at first confined to great personages 2 Samuel 13:29; 2 Samuel 18:9. The rabbis tell us that it was death to ride on the king's mule without his permission; and thus it would be the more evident to all that the proceedings with respect to Solomon had David's sanction.
Gihon - Probably the ancient name of the valley called afterward the Tyropoeum, which ran from the present Damascus Gate, by Siloam, into the Kedron vale, having the temple hill, or true Zion, on the left, and on the right the modern Zion or ancient city of the Jebusites. The upper "source" of the "waters of Gihon," which Hezekiah stopped (see the margin reference), was probably in the neighborhood of the Damascus Gate.
And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.
Anoint him - Inauguration into each of the three offices (those of prophet, priest, and king) typical of the Messiah or Anointed One, was by anointing with oil. Divine appointment had already instituted the rite in connection with the kingly office 2 Samuel 2:4; but after Solomon we have no express mention of the anointing of kings, except in the three cases of Jehu, Joash, and Jehoahaz 2 Kings 9:6; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 23:30, who were all appointed irregularly. At the time of the captivity, kings, whose anointing has not been related in the historical books, still bear the title of "the anointed of the Lord." Lamentations 4:20; Psalm 89:38, Psalm 89:51.
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.
Over Israel and over Judah - There is no anticipation here of the subsequent division of the kingdom; the antithesis between Judah and Israel already existed in the reign of David 2 Samuel 2:9; 2 Samuel 19:11.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too.
As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David.
As the Lord hath been with my lord - This phrase expresses a very high degree of divine favor. It occurs first in the promises of God to Isaac Genesis 26:3, Genesis 26:24 and Jacob Genesis 28:13. See further margin reference.
So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon.
And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.
The tabernacle - Probably that which David had made for the ark of the covenant on Mount Zion 2 Samuel 6:17. For the holy oil, see the margin reference. That it was part of the regular furniture of the tabernacle appears from Exodus 31:11; Exodus 39:38.
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.
Piped with pipes - Some prefer "danced with dances" - a meaning which the Hebrew would give by a change in the pointing, and the alteration of one letter. But the change is unnecessary. (Flutepipes were known to the Israelites 1 Samuel 10:5; they were very ancient in Egypt, and were known also to the Assyrians.
The earth rent - If the present Hebrew text is correct we have here a strong instance of Oriental hyperbole. But it is suspected that there is a slight corruption, and that the verb really used meant "resounded."
And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar?
And while he yet spake, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came: and Adonijah said unto him, Come in; for thou art a valiant man, and bringest good tidings.
Jonathan had acted in a similar capacity, as a carrier of intelligence, in the time of Absalom's attempt 2 Samuel 15:36; 2 Samuel 17:17; but at that time, like his father, he was faithful to David, and "a valiant man," "a virtuous man," or "a man of worth." (See 1 Kings 1:52; Proverbs 12:4.)
And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king.
Verily - "Nay, but" (or, "Not so").
And the king hath sent with him Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule:
And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that ye have heard.
And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom.
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.
The king bowed himself - The king worshipped God and prayed that it might be so. Compare Genesis 47:31, with margin reference, Hebrews 11:21.
And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it.
And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
On the "horns" of the altar, see Exodus 27:2 note. The altar to which Adonijah fled was probably in the "tabernacle" already referred to 1 Kings 1:39.
And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, Let king Solomon swear unto me to day that he will not slay his servant with the sword.
And Solomon said, If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.
There shalt not an hair ... - This was a proverbial expression, meaning "he shall suffer no hurt at all." Solomon's clemency in pardoning Adonijah is very remarkable. In the East not only are pretenders almost always punished with death, but it has often been the custom for each king upon his accession to put to death all his brothers as mere possible pretenders.
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.