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SCENES IN THE CLOSING CAREER OF A GREAT KING.
CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY Notes.-The opening word, “now,” is and, the cop. ! indicating the unbroken connexion of this book with a prior record. Originally the books of * Kings” were a continuation of those of “Samuel,” and constituted one whole narrative, styled respectively the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Books of Kings; and the four books bear a common heading in the LXX. and Vulgate.- Verse 1. David was old --In his seventieth year (compare chapter ii. 11 with 2 Samuel v. 4, 5). Verse 2. Get heat - An established inedical fact that the aged and sickly may thus derive vital warmth from the young and healthy. Josephus calls these “servants” who advised this course physicians (Ant. vii. 14, 23). Verse 3. Shunemite--Shunem, five miles south of Tabor, on the table-land of Esdraelon. Verse 5. Adonijah, son of Haggith-No record of origin or rank of Haggith, therefore probably without any family distinction. Adonijuh was David's fourth son, and the eldest now alive. Exalted himself-Hent (cf. Proverbs xxx. 32); took advantage of his father's feebleness to claim the throne. But God was king in Israel, and he retained the unchallengeable right of selecting the occupant of the throne (Deuteronomy xvii. 14). Verse 6. He also was a very goodly man-Thi- would give him acceptance with the nation (1 Samuel ix. 2!. Verse 7. Conferred with Joab, commander-in-chief of the army, through whom Adonijah hoped to win military support, and Abiathar, the High-priest, through whom he sought sacerdotal sanction and help; and he gained it, 771Y" to help one so that men immediately follow him” (Keil). Verse 9. Slew sheep and oxen, &c.—This usurpation of the throne inaugurated by a sacrificial feast. En-rogel, the well or source of the Rogel; south-east of Jerusalem in Baoiliko napadelow (Josephus). Verse 12. Save thine own life, &c.; for had the scheme of Adonijah succeeded, all rivals to the throne would have been slain. Verse 13. Assuredly Solomon, &c. – The particle is scarcely allows of sc forcible a rendering; saying, That Solomon shall reign. Verse 14. Confirm thy words: 77777 nə qaba-I will make full thy words—a phrase used for the fulfilment of divine utter ances (chapters ii. 27, viii. 15, 21). Verse 16. Bowed and did obeisance-The latter word denoting the prostrate attitude customary in the East before kings. Verse 21. Shall be counted offenders –Counted is not in the Hebrew, though implied in the connexion; they will be O'Non-i.e., guilty of a capital crime, treated as traitors deserving death. Verse 25. God save King Adonijah: i.e., Let the king live ; literally, Live the king ! the usual Israelitish acclamation (chapter v. 34-39 ; 1 Samuel x. 24, &c.). Verse 31. Let my lord, King David, live for ever- A form of blessing, used by the Hebrews only on specially solemn occasions, but was a common form amongst the Persians (Daniel iii. 9, v. 10, vi. 22; Nehemiah ii. 3). Verse 23. Take the servants of your lord : viz., the royal body-guard (verse 38). Ride upon mine own mule— The command that he "ride was especially significant, for no ine, under pain of death, might mount the king's mule ; to ride thereon was an actual declaration that he was king. A she-mule
, 177o, because more docile and enduring than the male. Gihon-A pool or fountain on the west side of Jerusalem; favourable as a scene for a vast assemblage, and removed sufficiently from En-rogel to avoid a collision with Adonijah's adherents. Verso 34. Anoint him-Done only in the case of a new dynasty or disputed succession. Verse 35. Sit on my throne - David would resign it to Solomon. Over Israel and over Judah—The kingdoms were not yet separate. but the union of the names was designed to arrest the growing disposition to separation which the envy of Ephraim was fostering. Verse 39. An horn of oil out of the tabernacle: the priestly consecrated oil, prepared according to divine directions (Exodus xxx. 22-25); the king was thus emphatically “the anointed of the lord." Verse 10. People came up after him—i.l., to Zion, the citadel. Verse 47. King bowed himself upon his bed-His infirmities allowed him to do no more (compare Genesis xlvii. 31). Verse 50. Caught hold on the horns of the altar: an act by which he appealed to God and man that his life, forfeited by his attempted usurpation of the throne, might be spared. Originally the place was appointed as an asylun for accidental homicides (Exodus xxi. 12 sq.), but later on other transgressors sought and found refuge there, befriended from the penalty of their crimes. Verse 53. Go to thine house: be content with privacy, remain in seclusion, asi e not again ; in so doing he was 10 show himself a worthy man, vir probus. Such an act of clemency by Solomon towards his rival was a noble inauguration of his kingly rule, and must have both favourably affected the nation and conciliated the followers of Adonijah.
HOMILETICS OF VERSES 1-4.
THE WINTER OF Life. I. Overtakes men in the highest rank. “Now King David was old and stricken in years.” Even the monarch is not exempt from the paralysing influence of life's winter. David had just escaped from the terrible plague which had smitten fatally 70,000 of his subjects, only to waste away more gradually under the remorseless ravages of time, from which there is no escape but in death. If men escape one peril it is only to meet another. The holiest soul dwells not in an impregaable fort. The aged king had projected a great work – the building of the temple—and made vast preparations for it. not permitted to finish it. As the frosts of winter arrest the growth and development of the most magniiicent tree, so the progress of life's bleak winter interrupts the work of the most gifted.
II. Chills the vital sources of the naturally robust. “And they covered him with clothes, and he gat no heat.” As a youth, David was noted for beauty and physical strength—“was ruddy and of a fair countenance.” He scarcely knew the limit of his power. He hesitated not to attack and slay a lion and a bear-was the victor of Goliath- the terror of the Philistines-the hero of a hundred fights. But, as the shadows of the grave creep into the midst of the gayest scenes of our mortal life, so, in the mid-career of those exploits which raised him into fame, there were admonitory blasts of the coming of that winter which must ere long freeze the vital energies at their source. Exposure, hardship, suffering and sorrow, wore down a constitution naturally robust; and now, in his i0th year—a period when many are still vigorous-David was greatly enfeebled. He was also suffering from a wasting disease to which frequent allusion is made in the Psalms. Coverings and garments can only preserve and accumulate the heat actually existing in the body, but cannot supply that which is gone. An affecting picture of the pitiable weakness of a once powerful and victorious monarch! Let not the mighty man glory in his might.
III. Is but temporarily alleviated by the best considered human devices. The cherishing of Alishag was--i. Advised by the court physicians. An expedient not unusual in similar cases, when internal cordials failed, and with the limited skill of the faculty in the use of warmth-creating potions. 2. Was innocent. Suggested for no other than purely medical reasons. In those days, when polygamy was not forbidden by the Jewish law, and when perverted views as to the relation of the sexes were so prevalent, Abishag was recognized as David's wife. She ministered to him also as a nurse. Sophocles lauded old age as a deliverance from the tyranny of the passions, as an escape from some furious and savage master. 3. Suspended only for a brief season the inevitable progress of decay. Medical skill is no more efli acious for the monarch than for the humblest subject. David died within the year. A moment comes in the winter of life when the warm pulse is stilled, and the once stalwart frame is locked in the icy embrace of death.
HOMILETICS OF VERSES 5-10.
THE REVOLT OF ADONIJAI. I. Was the outcome of a spirit of arrogance and vanity (verse 5). Solomon had been designated by both Jehovah and David as successor to the throne, and this had been publicly declared. But Adonijah, presuming upon his seniority, and puffed up with pride, insolently strove to preverit by force the accomplishment of what he knew to be the Divine arrangement. "Vain men, whilst, like proud ard yet brittle clay, they will be knocking their sides against the solid and eternal decree of God, break themselves in pieces."
— Trapp. Like his brother Absalom, his prototype in rebellion, Adonijah assumed all the external show of royalty—had a great retinue of chariots and horsemen, both for state and protection, to wait upon and fight for him. The glitter of outward display always attracts the multitude. There is no limit to the pride and extravagance of a rebel. Absalom-like, ambition rideth without reins.
II. Aggravated as committed against an indulgent and aged parent (verse 6). Adonijah took advantage of his father's growing infirmities to gratify his sinful ambition. Had never known the wholesome discipline of parental restraint. “The indulgence of parents at last pays them home in crosses. Reminds us of Prince Heury, in Shakespeare's Henry IV., part ii., scene 5. It added not a little to the grief of the dying king that the trumpet of rebellion should be sounded in his ears by the son whom he had loved “not wisely, but too well."
III. Succeeded in corrupting men of the highest reputation (verse 7). Joab, as commander-in-chief, had formerly done David noble service in most difficult and troublous times. He had incurred the displeasure of the king by his unwarrantable murder of Abner and Amasa; and, probably, he disliked the character of Solomon as a man of peace. For the history of Joab see 2 Samuel ii. 13-32 ; iii. 22-31; x. 7-14, &c. The defection of Abiathar, the high priest, was more surprising. He was son of that Ahimelech who suffered death in David's cause, and the only one of his sons who escaped the massacre by Doeg. David seenis to have felt towards him a special tenderness. Hitherto they had been the firmest friends. Abiathar was with David through all his wanderings when he fled from Saul-served him as priest in Hebron-accompanied him out of Jerusalem when Absalom rebelled—was one of his chief counsellors. The addition of these two representatives of the church and camp mightily strengthened the cause of Adonijah, and was significant of the charm of his personal presence, and bland, insinuating address. “Outward happiness and friendship are not known till our last act. In the impotency of either our revenge or recompense it will easily appear who loved us for ourselves, who for their own ends."
IV. Stimulated and bribed by excessive festivity (verse 9). Esau bold his birthright for a mess of pottage, and he is not the only one whose appetite has proved stronger than his conscience. Sensual feasting is often the precursor of thoughtless, perilous conduct. The judgment is unhinged, the heart inflamed with a fictitious bravery. Many commit themselves to measures which in calmer moments they regret. Such as serve their own belly, and will be in the interest of those that will feast them, what side soerer they are of, are an easy prey to seducers (Rom. xvi. 11).—Matt. Henry. If the oxen were offered in sacrifice, as some think, it only added to the audacity and impiety of the proceeding. Such a mockery of worship is hateful to God, and can end only in disaster to the promoters. The triumph of the wicked is short (Job xx. 5)
V. Powerless to vitiate the integrity of the faithful (verses 8, 10). Zadok performed the offices of chief priest at the tabernacle of witness at Gibeon, while Abiathar was the real high priest, and officiated at the sanctuary containing the ark of the covenant in Zion. Benaiah was chief of David's bodyguard (2 Sam. viii. 18; xx. 23). Nathan, the prophet, might be counted among Solomon's staunch friends. Had given the infant prince the name of
Jedidiah, “darling of Jehovah," and was probably entrusted with his education. As representative of the Divine aspect of the arrangement, and privy to all David's plans, he fully approved the order of succession which the king was known to intend. Shimei and Rei are supposed to be David's two brothers Shimma and Raddai. The mighty men were the company of 600 originally formed during David's early wanderings (1 Sam. xxv. 13; xxvii. 2), and afterwards maintained as the most essential element of his standing army (2 Sam. xxiii. 8-39; 1 Chron. xi. 9-47).—Speaker's Comm. Neither these worthies nor Solomon were invited to the feast. It would only have added insult to the wrong. High integrity of character lifts man above many solicitations to evil. Tacitus observed that the statues of Brutus and Cassius were the more glorious and illustrious because they were not brought out with other images in a solenın procession at the funeral of Germanicus. Cato said he would rather men should question why he had no statue or monument erected to him, than why he had. By not inviting Solomon, Adonijah betrayed his plans, and himself gave the occasion for their frustration. The policy of the wicked is short-sighted, and often helps the cause it seeks to hinder (Psalm lxix. 23; Romans xi. 9).
LESSONS :-1. Pride is a fruitful source of rebellion. 2. Rebels do not sufficiently estimate the power of the principles they oppose. 3. Rebellion is reckless in its movements. 4. Rebellion conceived in arrogance is doomed to a humiliating defeat.
REMONSTRANCE WITH EVIL DOERS-Verse 6.
We are taught here that much of the evil that Adonijah did had its root in his early bad training. David, though a good mau and a great king, sadly erred in his treatment of his children. What a sad glimpse do we get here of his domestic life! What is written is for our admonition. Learn
I. That remonstrance with evil doers is an imperative duty. Why hast thou done so ?” Thus should he have spoken. “ His father." None able to speak with such authority and tenderness. So others, according to their place and relationships. Hear God's call to arms: “Who will rise up for me against the evil doers ?”
II. That remonstrance with evil doers is a very difficult duty. “Displeased.” Pride hurt; carnal security disturbed ; conscience roused to give pain ; danger of speaking harshly; of speaking the truth in wrath more than in love. Still must do what is right. Better offend men than God; better speak, than by silence imperil souls. Besides, if you act in time you may gain your brother.
III. That remonstrance with evil doers is a much neglected duty. Here a father, and that father David, is charged with failure. Who, then, is safe? The very fact that the duty is so difficult and delicate makes many shrink from it. They will not give pain. They fear the consequences of rebuke and discipline. But though the neglect of this duty is so common, this does not make the guilt the less. It is a sin against God, and a crime against your brother. Take heed; be warned by many fearful examples. Innocence is better than repentance. Better far to “ displease" your children now by kind and righteous correction, than to let them go on in sin without check, and, in view of their sad fate and terrible upbraidings, to cry, “ Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O Lord!” Besides, how much higher a place will the father hold who rules as a king, like Abraham (Gen. xviii. 19), than the man who weakly abuses his trust like Eli (1 Sam. iii. 13).-Homilist.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES.
Verses 1-4. Weakness and in parental rights. 4. Dissension in the firmity in old age are-1. The uni- household. 5. Abuse of property. те lot to which we must all consider ourselves appointed (Psalm xc. I. His father made a fondling of 10). 2. Should looser the bands Adonijah. II. He, in return, made a which hold us to the temporal and fool of his father.— 11. IIenry. perishable, and ripen us for eternity The father who allows his son to go (2 Cor. iv. 11-18). Old and sick on in his pride and in worlūly or sinpeople should, and it is expected of ful conduct, and shuts his eyes, not to them as a work well pleasing to God, trouble him, must expect that his son that they bear this with a willing will trouble him and embitter the heart, with patience, self-denial, and evening of his life. The fond parent sacrificing love. -Lange.
is generally punished in the ingrati
tude and opposition of those very childVerse 5. Adonijah's attempt to ren whom he has most indulged, for gain the crown. 1. The ground they cannot be influenced by any sense upon which it rests. 1. Upon self- of obligation or duty who have been assertion, pride, lust of power; but accustomed to be gratified in every God resisteth the proud, and a haughty wish of their hearts (Prov. xxix. 17). spirit goeth before a fall. 2. Upon outward qualities, age, and beautilul Verse. 7. The instability of human person; but i Sam. xvi. 7; Psalm friendship. 1. Begins in misundercxlvii. 10, 11. 2. The means which standings, and is fostered by imaginary he employed.
1. He seeks to impose wrongs. 2. Characterized by ingratiupon the people by chariots and horse- tude to our greatest benefactors. 3. men; but Psalm xx. 8.
2. He con- Culminates in bitter hostility and spires with false and faithless men, but revenge.
4. Disastrous in proportion they forsake him in the hour of danger to the intimacy formerly enjoyed. (verse 49; Psalın ci. 6, 7). 3. He prepares, for appearance sake, a religious Wickedness sometimes unites festival; but Prov. xv. 8.
strange elements. 1. Knows where
to select its accomplices—among the The effort after high things ambitious, the disaffected, the waver(Rom. xii. 16). Now many a person ing. 2. Combines its votaries in sym · thinks: [ will become a great person- pathy, aim, mode of operation, and age, a man of authority and influence, vengeance, against a common foe. and then scruples at nothing to attain 3. Formidable and dangerous when his goal. But that which is written espoused by men of high repute. in 1 Cor. vii. 20-24 applies to the indi- – High personages always find vidual as well as to entire classes.-- people for the execution of their sinful Lange.
plans, who, from subserviency or
desire of reward, from ambition or Verse 6. The inevitable retribu- revenge, will act as counsellors and tion of parental indulgence. In agents; but they have their reward, its effect-1. Upon character, engenders and for the most part end with terror ing-1. Vanity, conscious of personal (Prov. xix. 21). beauty, fond of display. 2. Pride Verse 8. The true value of human "exulted himself." 3. Reckless- friendship tested in trouble. An inness. (a). Disrespect of a parent's corruptible fidelity-1. Sinks selfish love. (b). Indifference to a parent's considerations in promoting the comsufferings. 2 Upon conduct. Seen- mon wcal. 2. Soothes the alarm and 1. In deliberate opposition to the anxieties of the principal sufferer. Divine intentions. 2. Defiance of 3. Is vigilant and active in counterparental authority. 3. Usurpation of acting the plots of evil workers. 4. Is