Abishag Cherishes David in His Extreme
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 1Ki 2:22).
3. a Shunammite—Shunem, in the tribe of
Issachar (Jos 19:18),
lay on an eminence in the plain of Esdraelon, five miles south of
Tabor. It is now called Sulam.
Adonijah Usurps the Kingdom.
5, 6. Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted
himself—Nothing is said as to the origin or rank of Haggith,
so that it is probable she was not distinguished by family descent.
Adonijah, though David's fourth son (2Sa 3:4; 1Ch 3:2), was now the oldest alive; and his
personal attractions and manners (1Sa 9:2) not only recommended him to the leading
men about court, but made him the favorite of his father, who, though
seeing him assume an equipage becoming only the heir-presumptive to the
15:1), said nothing; and his
silence was considered by many, as well as by Adonijah, to be
equivalent to an expression of consent. The sinking health of the king
prompted him to take a decisive step in furtherance of his ambitious
7. he conferred with Joab—The anxiety of
Adonijah to secure the influence of a leader so bold, enterprising, and
popular with the army was natural, and the accession of the hoary
commander is easily accounted for from his recent grudge at the king
(see on 2Sa 19:13).
and with Abiathar the priest—His
influence was as great over the priests and Levites—a powerful
body in the kingdom—as that of Joab over the troops. It might be
that both of them thought the crown belonged to Adonijah by right of
primogeniture, from his mature age and the general expectations of the
8. But Zadok the priest—He had been high
priest in the tabernacle at Gibeon under Saul (1Ch 16:39). David, on his accession, had conjoined
him and Abiathar equal in the exercise of their high functions (2Sa
8:17; 15:24, 29, 35). But it
is extremely probable that some cause of jealousy or discord between
them had arisen, and hence each lent his countenance and support to
Benaiah—Distinguished for his bravery
23:20), he had been appointed
captain of the king's bodyguard (2Sa 8:18; 20:23; 1Ch
18:17), and was regarded by
Joab as a rival.
Nathan the prophet—He was held in high
estimation by David, and stood on the most intimate relations with the
royal family (2Sa 12:25).
Shimei—probably the person of this
name who was afterwards enrolled among Solomon's great officers (1Ki 4:18).
Rei—supposed to be the same as Ira
and the mighty men—the select band of
9, 10. En-rogel—situated (Jos 15:7-10) east of Jerusalem, in a level
place, just below the junction of the valley of Hinnom with that of
Jehoshaphat. It is a very deep well, measuring one hundred twenty-five
feet in depth; the water is sweet, but not very cold, and it is at
times quite full to overflowing. The Orientals are fond of enjoying
festive repasts in the open air at places which command the advantage
of shade, water, and verdure; and those fetes champetres are not
cold collations, but magnificent entertainments, the animals being
killed and dressed on the spot. Adonijah's feast at En-rogel was one of
this Oriental description, and it was on a large scale (2Sa
3:4, 5; 5:14-16; 1Ch 14:1-7).
At the accession of a new king there were sacrifices offered (1Sa 11:15). But on such an occasion it was
no less customary to entertain the grandees of the kingdom and even the
populace in a public manner (1Ch 12:23-40). There is the strongest probability
that Adonijah's feast was purely political, to court popularity and
secure a party to support his claim to the crown.
11-27. Nathan spake unto Bath-sheba … let me
… give thee counsel, &c.—The revolt was defeated by
this prophet, who, knowing the Lord's will (2Sa 7:12; 1Ch
22:9), felt himself bound, in
accordance with his character and office, to take the lead in seeing it
executed. Hitherto the succession of the Hebrew monarchy had not been
settled. The Lord had reserved to Himself the right of nomination
17:15), which was acted upon
in the appointments both of Saul and David; and in the case of the
latter the rule was so far modified that his posterity were guaranteed
the perpetual possession of the sovereignty (2Sa 7:12). This divine purpose was known
throughout the kingdom; but no intimation had been made as to whether
the right of inheritance was to belong to the oldest son. Adonijah, in
common with the people generally, expected that this natural
arrangement should be followed in the Hebrew kingdom as in all others.
Nathan, who was aware of the old king's solemn promise to Solomon, and,
moreover, that this promise was sanctioned by the divine will, saw that
no time was to be lost. Fearing the effects of too sudden excitement in
the king's feeble state, he arranged that Bath-sheba should go first to
inform him of what was being transacted without the walls, and that he
himself should follow to confirm her statement. The narrative here not
only exhibits the vivid picture of a scene within the interior of a
palace, but gives the impression that a great deal of Oriental state
ceremonial had been established in the Hebrew court.
20. the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that
thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne—When the
kings died without declaring their will, then their oldest son
succeeded. But frequently they designated long before their death which
of their sons should inherit the throne. The kings of Persia, as well
as of other Eastern countries, have exercised the same right in modern
and even recent times.
21. I and my son … shall be counted
offenders—that is, slain, according to the barbarous usage of
the East towards all who are rivals to the throne.
28-31. Then king David answered and said, Call me
Bath-sheba—He renews to her the solemn pledge he had given,
in terms of solemnity and impressiveness which show that the aged
monarch had roused himself to the duty the emergency called for.
1Ki 1:32-49. Solomon, by
David's Appointment, Is Anointed King.
33. cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own
mule—Directions were forthwith given for the immediate
coronation of Solomon. A procession was to be formed by the "servants
of their lord"—that is, the king's bodyguard. Mules were then
used by all the princes (2Sa 13:29);
but there was a state mule of which all subjects were forbidden, under
pain of death, to make use, without special permission; so that its
being granted to Solomon was a public declaration in his favor as the
future king (see on Es 6:8, 9).
bring him down to Gihon—a pool or
fountain on the west of Jerusalem (see on 2Ch
32:30), chosen as equally public for the counter proclamation.
34. anoint him—done only in the case of
a new dynasty or disputed succession (see on 1Sa
16:13; 2Sa 2:1).
35. Then ye shall come up after him, that he may
come and sit upon my throne—The public recognition of the
successor to the throne, during the old king's lifetime, is accordant
with the customs of the East.
39. an horn of oil out of the
tabernacle—It was the sacred oil (Ex 30:25) with which the kings were anointed.
40. all the people came up after
him—that is, from the valley to the citadel of Zion.
41-49. Adonijah and all the guests that were with
him heard it as they had made an end of eating—The loud
shouts raised by the populace at the joyous proclamation at Gihon, and
echoed by assembled thousands, from Zion to En-rogel, were easily heard
at that distance by Adonijah and his confederates. The arrival of a
trusty messenger, who gave a full detail of the coronation ceremony
1:43-48], spread dismay in
their camp. The wicked and ambitious plot they had assembled to execute
was dissipated, and every one of the conspirators consulted his safety
1Ki 1:50-53. Adonijah,
Fleeing to the Horns of the Altar, Is Dismissed by Solomon.
50-53. Adonijah … went, and caught hold on
the horns of the altar—most probably the altar of burnt
offering which had been erected on Mount Zion, where Abiathar, one of
his partisans, presided as high priest. The horns or projections at the
four corners of the altar, to which the sacrifices were bound, and
which were tipped with the blood of the victim, were symbols of grace
and salvation to the sinner. Hence the altar was regarded as a
sanctuary (Ex 21:14),
but not to murderers, rebels, or deliberate perpetrators. Adonijah,
having acted in opposition to the will of the reigning king, was guilty
of rebellion, and stood self-condemned. Solomon spared his life on the
express condition of his good behavior—living in strict privacy,
leading a quiet, peaceable life, and meddling with the affairs of
neither the court nor the kingdom.
53. they brought him down from the
altar—from the ledge around the altar on which he was
he bowed himself—that is, did homage
to Solomon as king.