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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

1 Kings 1

 

 

Verse 1

A TROUBLED OLD AGE

‘Old and stricken in years.’

1 Kings 1:1

With the transition from 2 Samuel to 1 Kings, David passes from mature life into the physical feebleness of old age. For nearly forty years he had been king,—seven of these forty over Judah only, and the remaining thirty-three over the united kingdom of Judah and Israel. His had been a long and stormy reign; the earlier part of it occupied with winning his kingdom and extending his empire, the latter part embittered by domestic jealousies, by rebellion, and by the avenging stroke of the angel of God. But now all the king’s battles were past; and the feeble old man was dwelling quietly in Jerusalem, awaiting his latter end.

I. But even now the curse which ever seems to cling to polygamy again made itself manifest.—Adonijah (‘Jehovah in my Lord’), the fourth son of David, and the son of Haggith, one of David’s rival wives, taking advantage of his father’s feebleness, made an attempt to gain the crown for himself. Adonijah, like Absalom, was handsome in person, but he seems to have lacked that power of political intrigue which Absalom possessed. He had organised no military force, such as Absalom had gathered at Hebron; and his revolt, if such it could be called, was rather against Solomon than against David. But of popularity, or of shrewdness, he had enough to pervert to his cause the warrior Joab and the priest Abiathar. On the set day, the excited throng, down at the foot of the valley, began their eating and drinking, and ever and anon made the welkin ring with the shouts of ‘God save the king, Adonijah!’ In accordance with Nathan’s instructions, Bathsheba hastened to the king’s presence to make known the insurrection, Nathan following her to confirm her assertions.

It is to be noted that Solomon was not the eldest of David’s sons; and hence, so far as the custom of primogeniture was concerned, he would not have been the first to inherit. But he was the son of David’s favourite wife—one whom David had before wronged, and to whom he had promised that her son should be his successor on the throne of Israel. These were the surface reasons for the preference given to Solomon; but beneath these was the fact recognised by David himself: ‘Of all my sons (for the Lord hath given me many sons) He hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel’ (1 Chronicles 28:5). As Bathsheba and he met for perhaps almost the last time on this dark day, both of them must have remembered the announcement of Nathan, still with them as friend and counsellor, which he had given so long before (2 Samuel 12:10-11). How carefully we should walk with God, trusting Him to keep us moment by moment, since one glance of the eye at the forbidden may lead to such disastrous results!

II. Old age had not dimmed David’s clear apprehension of wise policy, nor dulled his sense of God’s redeeming mercy.—Old age gives us time to review the way in which we have been led, and to recall interpositions of God’s helping hand, which in the rush of life we had hardly noticed. Let not the young glory in their strength, for it soon fades away; and let them give the vigour of their early days to God, that when the years come in which they shall say, ‘I have no pleasure in them,’ they may be able, like David, to look back over a long life and say with him that the Lord ‘hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity.’

Illustrations

(1) ‘Adonijah’s undutiful and criminal conduct is traced by the sacred writer to his father’s fond indulgence, and the lack of proper parental control (1 Kings 1:6). God’s covenant is with His people and their children, but this involves fidelity on their part likewise to their covenant engagements (Genesis 17:7; Genesis 17:18-19; Proverbs 22:6). David gave his son a name indicative of his pious desires and hopes on his behalf; “Adonijah” means Jehovah is my Lord; how sadly different was the issue of his manhood from this cherished expectation in his infancy!’

(2) ‘In advancing a good cause a little quiet planning may accomplish excellent results, and not be dishonest. Nathan and Bathsheba had made their arrangements beforehand.

In advancing a good cause, a good action or good advice wins much in efficacy by being skilfully performed or given.

In advancing a good cause a respectful demeanour toward those in authority costs nothing, and usually accomplishes much.

In advancing a good cause a good name is of the first importance. David knew at once that Nathan’s plea was not for anything bad.’

(3) ‘Repentance and forgiveness did not neutralise the natural consequences of David’s sin. Nor will they do so for us. God often leaves them to be experienced, that the experience may make us hate the sins the more.’

(4) ‘In advancing a bad cause, it is natural to have good things to eat.

In advancing a bad cause, its promoters are always forward in appealing to the Divine protection, “God save King Adonijah!”

In advancing a bad cause its promoters are generally exclusive in their friendships. Of course Nathan was not admitted to a share in proceedings upon which he would have frowned.

In combating a bad cause it is always best to come to a clear understanding of exactly who are its friends, and who its enemies. That is what Nathan sought in questioning David.

In combating a bad cause, the more care that is exercised the better. Every bad cause has at least one very skilful promoter, whose mere tools Adonijah and Abiathar and all the rest of them are. The devil keeps a close watch over his own interests.’


Verse 43

WELCOME THE COMING—SPEED THE GOING KING!

‘Our lord king David hath made Solomon king’

1 Kings 1:43

The news of Adonijah’s coronation was brought at once, by the faithful Nathan, to the ears of the feeble sovereign. The prophet indignantly inquires. ‘Is this thing done by my lord?

I. Many a man asks a question about matters concerning which he is in no doubt whatsoever.—Sometimes he asks a question in order to convey information in that indirect manner. Sometimes he uses the interrogative form as the more respectful method of seeking directions which he knows are ready to be given. Sometimes he speaks in that way for the purpose of making more evident the propriety of the negative. A question is not always to be considered as an evidence of a doubting mind. This should be borne in mind by us in our giving and in our hearing questions; also in our reading of the Bible questions and in our very modes of private prayer. The Bible is full of questionings: ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ Questions in our approaches to God in prayer may be the best guard against doubting. Lord, I have often turned to Thee in trouble, and never have turned in vain. Shall I come to Thee doubtingly at this time? Lord, I have Thy promise for this very hour of need. Can I not claim that promise from Thee? Questioning may at one time be a proof that there is no doubting, as well be a proof of doubt at another time. And there was no doubt in the mind of the old king. ‘The king sware, and said, … Even as I sware unto thee; … even so will I certainly do this day.’ The fire of his prompter years seemed, for a moment, to return to David. Instinctively he apprehended that it would avail nothing for him, in his decrepitude, to attempt, in his own name, to put down so formidable a rising; so with admirable decision, he sent for Zadok, who remained loyal, and Benaiah and Nathan, to bring forth Solomon, putting him on the king’s own mule, and surrounding him with the insignia of rank, in order that he might be made monarch, and at once invested with supreme authority.

II. Was it not kingly of the old man to say that his promise should be made good?—The word of God’s royal representative ought to be a sure word. There ought to be no need of doubt concerning it. However it may be with any earthly representative of God, on a throne or off a throne, the word of God Himself does stand sure. One of His promises can be rested on when all the universe seems going to ruin. David said he would not lie to God; says that He cannot lie. David’s word did hold good in this instance. God’s word holds good in every instance. Yet there are plain promises of God which not all his children count sure.

III. Gladly was the new sovereign welcomed.—The enthusiastic people came up the road after him, piping with pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, ‘so that the earth rent with the sound of them.’ This was heard by Adonijah and his guests; fear and consternation put an end to their eating, and filled them with unutterable alarm. Each of the insurrectionists fled his own way. Adonijah fled, and laid hold upon the horns of the altar. There Solomon found him, pitied and pardoned him, magnanimously dismissing him uninjured to his own house, promising him good if he behaved himself.

The coronation of Solomon, amid joy that made the earth ring, again carries the heart on to the moment when the Lord Jesus shall be proclaimed as King, not only of His Church, but of the world. Then shall trembling take hold on His foes, and the earth itself shall break into song.

Illustrations

(1) ‘When a man must go forth to leave the duties of his earthly station, it is becoming that he should carefully consider in whose hands he shall leave them.

When a man has an important question to decide, he seldom loses anything by inviting his wife to assist at the conference.

When a man is called to the test, he ought not to be long in making good his promises, if it is in his power to do so.

When a man is nearing the point of death, it is folly to defer doing as he has promised until the future. “So will I certainly do, this day.”

When a man has humbled himself to do, it will seldom harm his wife to humble herself to thank him.

When a man is nearing the point of death, such a cry as “Let my lord king David live for ever,” has its very serious aspects.’

(2) ‘The solemnity of David’s appeal to the Most High is increased by the memory of his own personal obligations to Him Who had rescued his life from all the perils and troubles to which he had been exposed from the persecution of Saul. While it was temporal deliverances which David here had in mind, his language may suggest to us our own obligations, not only for providential favours, but for spiritual and everlasting mercies. David here, as elsewhere (cf. Psalms 18), recognises the hand of God in his preservation from past dangers and his elevation to the throne, attributing it, not to his own skill or valour, but to God’s goodness. In the time of his prosperity he did not forget, as men so often do, Him whose aid he had invoked in the time of his distress.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 1:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-kings-1.html. 1876.

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