1 Kings 1:1
Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
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(1) Now king David.—“Now” is the simple illative conjunction “and,” found at the beginning of all the historical books (Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, &c.). It marks the general conception of the unity of the whole history, but implies nothing of special connection of time or authorship with the books of Samuel. In fact, although these books are in some sense the continuation of the former, yet the narrative is hardly continuous. The history passes at once to the closing scene of David’s life, leaving a comparative blank in the period succeeding the restoration after the defeat of Absalom—a blank which is partly filled up in the later books (1 Chronicles 22-29).

Stricken in years—about seventy years old. Since “clothes” mean “bed-clothes,” the meaning is that the King was now too feeble to rise from his bed. His life began its responsibilities early; it had been hard and trying; and, as the history shows, not wholly free from self-indulgence. Hence, at no excessive age, its complete decrepitude.

1 Kings 1:1. Now King David was old — Being in the end of his seventieth year. They covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat — Which is not strange, considering he was a person who had been exercised with so many hardships in war, and with such tormenting cares, and fears, and sorrows for his own sins, (as divers of his psalms witness,) and for the sins and miseries of his children and people. Besides, this might be from the nature of his bodily distemper, which Dr. Lightfoot thinks was a dead palsy. [David now began to feel the effects of old age, and probably remembered with lively interest the words of his faithful friend Barzillai, spoken some time before: “Can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink?”]

1:1-4 We have David sinking under infirmities. He was chastised for his recent sins, and felt the effects of his former toils and hardships.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.



1Ki 1:1-4. Abishag Cherishes David in His Extreme Age.

1, 2. Now king David was old—He was in the seventieth year of his age (2Sa 5:4, 5). But the wear and tear of a military life, bodily fatigue, and mental care, had prematurely, if we may say it, exhausted the energies of David's strong constitution (1Sa 16:12). In modern Palestine and Egypt the people, owing to the heat of the climate, sleep each in a "separate" bed. They only depart from this practice for medical reasons (Ec 4:11). The expedient recommended by David's physicians is the regimen still prescribed in similar cases in the East, particularly among the Arab population, not simply to give heat, but "to cherish," as they are aware that the inhalation of young breath will give new life and vigor to the worn-out frame. The fact of the health of the young and healthier person being, as it were, stolen to support that of the more aged and sickly is well established among the medical faculty. And hence the prescription for the aged king was made in a hygienic point of view for the prolongation of his valuable life, and not merely for the comfort to be derived from the natural warmth imparted to his withered frame [Porter, Tent and Khan]. The polygamy of the age and country may account for the introduction of this practice; and it is evident that Abishag was made a concubine or secondary wife to David (see on [282]1Ki 2:22).Abishag cherisheth David in his extreme age, 1Ki 1:1-4. Adonijah usurpeth the kingdom, 1Ki 1:5-10. By the counsel of Nathan to Bath-sheba, and their petition to David, he reneweth his oath of making Solomon king after him, 1Ki 1:11-31. He, by David's appointment, is anointed king; the people triumph, 1Ki 1:32-40. Adonijah hearing this, his guests flee, and himself fleeth to the horns of the altar; is pardoned by Solomon, and sent to his own house, 1Ki 1:41-53.

Stricken in years; Being in the end of his seventieth year. He gat no heat; which is not strange in a person not only of so great an age, but also who had been exercised with so many hardships in war, and with such tormenting cares, and fears, and sorrows, for his own sins, (as divers of his Psalms witness,) and for the sins and miseries of his children and people. See Pro 17:22. Besides, this might be from the nature of his disease, or bodily distemper.

Now King David was old, and stricken in years,.... Was seventy years of age; for he was thirty years of age when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years, 2 Samuel 5:4; this was just the age of man, Psalm 90:10;

and they covered him with clothes; not wearing apparel, but bed clothes; he seems to have been bedridden and paralytic:

but he got no heat; by them; having no natural heat in him, clothes could not communicate any to him, only keep the cold from him, see Haggai 1:6; there are many persons at the age he was, that are lively, healthful, and robust, comparatively speaking at least; but David's strength was impaired, and his natural force abated by his many wars, fatigues by night and day in campaigns, and the many sorrows and afflictions he met with from his family and his friends, as well as enemies; which exhausted his natural moisture, weakened his nerves, and drank up his spirits, and brought upon him the infirmities of a decrepit old age very soon.

Now king David was {a} old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no {b} heat.

The Argument - Because the children of God should expect no continual rest and quietness in this world, the Holy Spirit sets before our eyes in this book the variety and change of things, which came to the people of Israel from the death of David, Solomon, and the rest of the kings, to the death of Ahab. Declaring that flourishing kingdoms, unless they are preserved by God's protection, (who then favours them when his word is truly set forth, virtue esteemed, vice punished, and concord maintained) fall to decay and come to nothing as appears by the dividing of the kingdom under Rehoboam and Jeroboam, who were one people before and now by the just punishment of God were made two. Judah and Benjamin were under Rehoboam, and this was called the kingdom of Judah. The other ten tribes held with Jeroboam, and this was called the kingdom of Israel. The king of Judah had his throne in Jerusalem, and the king of Israel in Samaria, after it was built by Omri Ahab's father. Because our Saviour Christ according to the flesh, comes from the stock of David, the genealogy of the kings of Judah is here described, from Solomon to Joram the son of Jehoshaphat, who reigned over Judah in Jerusalem as Ahab did over Israel in Samaria.

(a) He was about 70 years old, 2Sa 5:4.

(b) For his natural heat was worn away with travels.



commonly called,


Ch. 1 Kings 1:1-4. David’s Feeble Age (Not in Chronicles)

1. Now] The Hebrew has only the conjunction usually rendered And. This sentence is not to be regarded as the commencement of a new history, but a continuation of what has been told in 2 Samuel. In Hebrew MSS. 1 and 2 Kings form but one book, as do also 1 and 2 Samuel , , 1 and 2 Chronicles. The division was first made in the LXX. which Jerome followed, and it was introduced in the printed Hebrew Bibles by Daniel Bomberg. The LXX. however treats these books as so closely connected with Samuel that the four books are all named alike (βασιλείων α. β. γ. δ.). They are so catalogued also in Origen’s list of the Canonical Books (Euseb. H. E. vi. 25), and in Jerome’s Prologus Galeatus. But we shall have occasion to point out some matters (e.g. the worship on the high places) which were viewed in a different light by the compiler of these later books from that in which they are regarded in the books of Samuel.

The two books fall naturally into three sections. (1) The reign of Solomon, 1 Kings 1-11. (2) The history of two kingdoms after their separation, till the overthrow of the northern kingdom, 1 Kings 12 - 2 Kings 17. (3) The history of the kingdom of Judah from the Assyrian to the Babylonish Captivity, 2 Kings 18-25.

king David was old] The circumstances recorded in this passage must have happened when the feeble king had taken to his bed. By comparing 2 Samuel 5:4-5, with 1 Kings 2:11, we arrive very nearly at the age given by Josephus (Ant. vii. 15. 2) who says David was seventy years old when he died.

stricken in years] Rendered literally on the margin ‘entered into days.’

they covered him with clothes] i.e. With bed-clothes; just as in 1 Samuel 19:13 where A.V. has ‘with a cloth.’ The word is however most frequently used of garments for wear.

Verse 1. - 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, 2 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 2 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 2 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 זָקֵןas in Genesis 18:11; Genesis 24:1; Joshua 13:1, etc.] And they covered him with clothes [lit. 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 (ver. 47) shows that bedclothes 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.] 1 Kings 1:1When king David had become so old that they could no longer warm him by covering him with clothes, his servants advised him to increase his vitality by lying with a young and robust virgin, and selected the beautiful Abishag of Shunem to perform this service. This circumstance, which is a trivial one in itself, is only mentioned on account of what follows - first, because it shows that David had become too weak from age, and too destitute of energy, to be able to carry on the government any longer; and, secondly, because Adonijah the pretender afterwards forfeited his life through asking for Abishag in marriage. - The opening of our book, והמּלך (and the King), may be explained from the fact that the account which follows has been taken from a writing containing the earlier history of David, and that the author of these books retained the Vav cop. which he found there, for the purpose of showing at the outset that his work was a continuation of the books of Samuel. בּיּמים בּא זקן as in Joshua 13:1; Joshua 23:1; Genesis 24:1, etc. "They covered him with clothes, and he did not get warm." It follows from this that the king was bedridden, or at least that when lying down he could no longer be kept warm with bed-clothes. בּגדים does not mean clothes to wear here, but large cloths, which were used as bed-clothes, as in 1 Samuel 19:13 and Numbers 4:6. יחם is used impersonally, and derived from חמם, cf. Ewald, 193, b., and 138, b. As David was then in his seventieth year, this decrepitude was not the natural result of extreme old age, but the consequence of a sickly constitution, arising out of the hardships which he had endured in his agitated and restless life. The proposal of his servants, to restore the vital warmth which he had lost by bringing a virgin to lie with him, is recommended as an experiment by Galen (Method. medic. viii. 7). And it has been an acknowledged fact with physicians of all ages, that departing vitality may be preserved and strengthened by communicating the vital warmth of strong and youthful persons (compare Trusen, Sitten Gebruche u. Krankheiten der Hebrer, p. 257ff.). The singular suffix in לאדני is to be explained on the ground that one person spoke. בתוּלה נערה, a maid who is a virgin. לפני עמד, to stand before a person as servant equals to serve (cf. Deuteronomy 1:38 with Exodus 24:13). סכנת, an attendant or nurse, from סכן equals שׁכן, to live with a person, then to be helpful or useful to him. With the words "that she may lie in thy bosom," the passage passes, as is frequently the case, from the third person to a direct address.
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