5. In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.
5. Dies regis nostri, fecerunt principes aegrotare utre vini; ex tendit manum suam ad illusores.
The Prophet here reproves especially the king and his courtiers. He had spoken of the whole people, and showed that the filth of evils was every where diffused: but he now relates how strangely the king and his courtiers ruled. Hence he says, The day of our king! the princes have made him sick; that is, so great has been the intemperance of excess, that the king himself became sick through too much drinking, and extended his hand to mockers. In short, the Prophet means, that the members of government in the kingdom of Israel had become so corrupt, that in the hall or palace of the king there was no regard for decency, and no shame.
By "the day of the king," some understand his birth-day; and we know that it has been a very old custom even for the common people to celebrate their birth-day. Others refer it to the day of coronation, which is more probable. Some take it for the very beginning of his reign, which seems strained. The day of our king! that is "Our king is now seated on his throne, he has now undertaken the government of the kingdom; let us then feast plentifully, and glut ourselves with eating and drinking." This sense suits well; but I do not know whether it can bear the name of day; he calls it the day of the king. I would then rather adopt their opinion, who explain it as the annual day of coronation: The day then of our king. There are yet interpreters, who render the sentence thus, "In the day the princes have made the king sick;" but I make this separation in it, The day of the king! the princes have made him sick.
It was not indeed sinful or blamable to celebrate yearly the memory of the coronation; but then the king ought to have stirred up himself and others to give thanks to God; the goodness of the Lord, in preserving the kingdom safe, ought to have been acknowledged at the end of the year; the king ought also to have asked of God the spirit of wisdom and strength for the future, that he might discharge rightly his office. But the Prophet shows here that there was nothing then in a sound state; for they had turned into gross abuse what was in itself, as I have said, useful. The day then of our king -- how is it spent? Does the king humbly supplicate pardon before God, if he has done any thing unworthy of his station, if in any thing he has offended? Does he give thanks that God has hitherto sustained him by his support? Does he prepare himself for the future discharge of his duty? No such thing; but the princes indulge excess, and stimulate their king; yea, they so overcome him with immoderate drinking, that they make him sick. This then, he says, is their way of proceeding; nothing royal now appears in the king's palace, or even worthy of men; for they abandon themselves like beasts to drunkenness, and so great intemperance prevails among them, that they ruin the king himself with a bottle of wine.
Some render this, "a flagon;" tmx, chemet, means properly a bottle; and we know that wine was then preserved in bottles, as the Orientals do to this day. Then with a bottle of wine, with immoderate drinking, they made the king sick.
He then says, that the king stretched forth his hand to scorners; that is, forgetting himself, he retained no gravity, but became like a buffoon, and indecently mixed with worthless men. For the Prophet, I doubt not, calls those scorners, who, having cast away all shame, indulge in buffoonery and wantonness. He therefore says, that the king held forth his hand to scorners, as a proof of friendship. As he was then the companion of buffoons and worthless men, he had cast away from him everything royal which he ought to have had. This is the meaning. The Prophet, therefore, deplores this corruption, that there was no longer any dignity or decency in the king and his princes, being wholly given, as they were, to excess and drunkenness; yea, they turned sacred days into this abuse, when the king ought to have conducted himself in a manner worthy of the rank of the highest honor: he prostituted himself to every kind of wantonness, and his princes were his leaders and encouragers. 1 This so great a depravity the Prophet now deplores. It follows --