David, in his old age, unable to keep warmth, hath an handmaid provided to cherish him. Adonijah, his son, taking advantage of David's imbecility, usurpeth the kingdom. Solomon, by David's direction, is anointed king. Adonijah fleeth for refuge to the altar. These are the principal things contained in this Chapter.
(1) В¶ Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.
How humiliating to our nature are the infirmities of our old age; not because they are our nature, but because they are the fruits of sin. Disease, and languor of every kind, are the consequences of the fall. Hence the prophet describing the recovery of our nature by redemption, represents it under the similitude of a favoured climate, where the inhabitants shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. Isaiah 33:24. David's age was not so very great. It was indeed the age of man; for I conjecture that he was now about 70. But Reader! David had been much worn. Troubles from others, and passions in himself; these wear fast the constitution.
(2) Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. (3) So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. (4) And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
While the pious Reader feels suitable indignation at the corrupt counsel of the servants of David, let him bless God that he is living under a more gracious dispensation. Though from what is said in the last of those verses, we have authority to conclude that nothing criminal passed between them, yet David had smarted so exceedingly in the former periods of his life, for the indulgence of his lustful passions, one could have wished that he had spurned such advisers from his presence. Reader! see what a degraded state man is reduced to from the fall. Wherein, on this pursuit of carnal desires, doth he differ from the brute that perisheth. Psalms 49:20. Who can read the account of the prostitution of this young woman, and call to mind how very often similar events have taken place in all ages, in gratifying the detestable lust of the great, at the expense of the innocence of the poor, but must feel indignant at it. Oh! precious Jesus, how sweet is it in the recollection of the horrid pollutions of our nature, to behold thee who art holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens. Hebrews 7:26.
(5) В¶ Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. (6) And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
New afflictions arise to David. But Reader! observe how the divine sentence is fulfilled in them; Evil shall arise against thee out of thine own house. The afflictions of David, from the commission of his sin with Bath-sheba, always carried with them this mark. See 2 Samuel 12:10-11. It is somewhat very singular that David should call a son of his by such a name as Adonijah, which is a compound of two sacred names of Jehovah, Adonai, Lord, and Jah, which is the incommunicable name, implying the divine essence of God. We find indeed, in the Old Testament scriptures, the saints of God giving names to their children of somewhat significant, to denote their views of divine grace and favor. It is very profitable and becoming to call our children by such names as every time we look upon them may refresh the memory with the recollection of God's mercies. Hannah's Samuel, and Leah's, Judah; furnished out continued occasions of this sort. See 1 Samuel 1:20; Genesis 29:35. But there seems somewhat unbecoming in taking the divine names for our children. The messengers and servants of the Lord are perhaps exceptions to this; for we find Elijah distinguished by a name similar to Adonijah. Elijah, or as it is in the original, Elijahu; being a compound word also, and signifying "My God, Jehovah, is he; " which may be considered as if it expressed the authority of his commission; My God Jehovah is he that hath sent me. With respect to Adonijah, most undeserving was he of such a distinction; and justly proved himself a second Absalom, whose brother he was, both in nature and in folly.
(7) And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him. (8) But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.
In this conspiracy he made a party, as bad men will, for the most part, find bad men to countenance them.
(9) And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by Enrogel, and called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants: (10) But Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.
It should seem that like Absalom his brother, he begun his iniquities with sacrifice. It is sad when men's ambitious views stimulate them to evil. But it is awful indeed when such men begin their evil designs with professions of religion, as if they wished you to believe the Lord gave countenance to them. See 2 Samuel 15:7, etc. The evil conduct of Adonijah in this usurpation was the more pointed, because the succession of the kingdom had been already fixed by God himself on Solomon, as Adonijah could not but know. The Reader will discover this also if he compares 2 Samuel 7:12-13, with 1 Chronicles 22:6-11. But Reader! after having paid all due respect to the historical part of this subject, turn your thoughts to an infinitely more interesting part in the spiritual; and behold in Adonijah's attempt to subvert the kingdom, the representation of those who will not have the Lord Jesus Christ to reign over them. Here an ample subject opens to our meditation, which the Reader will do well to enlarge upon and improve.
(11) В¶ Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not? (12) Now therefore come, let me, I pray thee, give thee counsel, that thou mayest save thine own life, and the life of thy son Solomon. (13) Go and get thee in unto king David, and say unto him, Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? why then doth Adonijah reign? (14) Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.
We find upon most of the remarkable events in David's life, that the Lord his God raised up for him suitable instruments. Nathan is here evidently such in the hand of God, to accomplish the purposes of God's will, but after reading this passage as an history, we should look at it in an higher and more important point of view. Solomon, as we shall soon discover when we come to remark the circumstances of his life, was in many instances a lively type of Jesus. As such, we may consider Nathan the prophet in this place as representing faithful ministers of Christ. It is their office to forward and promote among men the Redeemer's kingdom. And what he saith to Bath-sheba concerning Solomon's being king, may with infinitely greater propriety be said concerning the Lord Jesus being king. Didst not thou say, O Lord, that Jesus should be king in Zion, and reign and rule over his people and in them, by his grace? Why then is it, that the Adonijah's of my poor corrupt nature, and the powers of darkness so often rise up in rebellion?
(15) And Bathsheba went in unto the king into the chamber: and the king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite ministered unto the king. (16) And Bathsheba bowed, and did obeisance unto the king. And the king said, What wouldest thou? (17) And she said unto him, My lord, thou swarest by the LORD thy God unto thine handmaid, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne. (18) And now, behold, Adonijah reigneth; and now, my lord the king, thou knowest it not: (19) And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called. (20) And thou, my lord, O king, the eyes of all Israel are upon thee, that thou shouldest tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. (21) Otherwise it shall come to pass, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders.
It should seem that David must have assured Bath-sheba by oath concerning Solomon's succession; though it is not noticed when. But what is most particularly to be remarked in this address of Bath-sheba is, that she declares the eyes of all Israel are upon David, that he should name his successor; no doubt, because what David should deliver on this subject would be considered as coming from God; David himself being anointed of God. See 2 Samuel 23:1-3. It is sweet when the people of God wait for the revelation of the mind of God. It hath been a maxim of the church in all ages, that the law of God should be sought for from the Lord's messengers. What an awful consideration to make men faithful! Malachi 2:7.
(22) And, lo, while she yet talked with the king, Nathan the prophet also came in. (23) And they told the king, saying, Behold Nathan the prophet. And when he was come in before the king, he bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground. (24) And Nathan said, My lord, O king, hast thou said, Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? (25) For he is gone down this day, and hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the king's sons, and the captains of the host, and Abiathar the priest; and, behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save king Adonijah. (26) But me, even me thy servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and thy servant Solomon, hath he not called. (27) Is this thing done by my lord the king, and thou hast not showed it unto thy servant, who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?
In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. It is delightful when the servants of Jesus are found to correspond in promoting Jesus's glory, and advancing his kingdom among men. A thing which the Lord would certainly bless, if all were to preach, not themselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.
(28) Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king's presence, and stood before the king. (29) And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, (30) Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day. (31) Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live forever.
The most interesting part of those verses is that which represents David as eyeing the Lord's hand in all his deliverances. We have a similar example in the patriarch Jacob, when dying. The God, said he, which fed me all my life long unto this day; the angel which redeemed my soul from evil. What angel did he mean but the angel of the covenant, even Jesus? Genesis 48:16.
(32) В¶ And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. (33) The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: (34) And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. (35) Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.
Beside the historical relation of this event, the principal beauty of the passage is to look through it to the spiritual reference it hath to the throne of Jesus. Who, indeed, can read David's appointment of Solomon to the throne of Israel, without calling to recollection how God, even the Father, hath set his king upon his holy hill of Zion? Sweetly did the angel, in his salutation to Mary, make this one principal feature of Jesus; "He shall be great (said he) and shall be called, The son of the highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:32.
(36) And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too. (37) As the LORD hath been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David. (38) So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down, and caused Solomon to ride upon king David's mule, and brought him to Gihon. (39) And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon. (40) And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.
The anointing Of Solomon is no more typical of Jesus, as the Christ of God, than the anointing of David, or any other of the kings or priests of Israel. But it doth not seem to become a question, but that all the anointings in the church, from the first to the last, were wholly with an eye to Christ. The only difference between them and him being only in the quantity. They all had the anointing of the oil of gladness, as it is called. But Jesus had the Spirit poured out upon him without measure. See Psalms 45:7; John 3:34. I do not, for my part, hesitate to believe, but that as the Son of God, as Mediator, is uniformly held forth in the old church as the Messiah, that is the anointed, which was to come; all the anointings and services with the holy oil, pointed expressly to him, and to him only. Sweet thought to the believer! Hence the church speaking of Jesus, saith, Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth. Song of Solomon 1:3.
(41) В¶ And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar?
Reader! do observe the very different state of Adonijah and his party from that of Solomon and his followers. There was no anointing, no divine call, no proper authority, to make Adonijah king. Instead of looking to heaven for a blessing, they were serving their lusts and pleasures. And of such Paul speaks; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly; whose glory is in their shame. And will not, nay, doth not, sudden death and sudden destruction overtake all the workers of iniquity in like manner. Philippians 3:19.
(42) And while he yet spake, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came: and Adonijah said unto him, Come in; for thou art a valiant man, and bringest good tidings.
Good tidings indeed, to poor sinners, even rebellious sinners, that Jesus reigneth. Oh! that the proclamation would cause every poor sinner to cast down the weapons of sin out of his hands, and bend the knee to Jesus. Reader! depend upon it, the knee that will not bow in love and duty, shall break in terror and dismay! Isaiah 45:23.
(43) And Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, Verily our lord king David hath made Solomon king. (44) And the king hath sent with him Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and they have caused him to ride upon the king's mule: (45) And Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon: and they are come up from thence rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that ye have heard. (46) And also Solomon sitteth on the throne of the kingdom. (47) And moreover the king's servants came to bless our lord king David, saying, God make the name of Solomon better than thy name, and make his throne greater than thy throne. And the king bowed himself upon the bed. (48) And also thus said the king, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which hath given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it. (49) And all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.
If the relation of this event of Solomon's accession to the throne became so alarming to Adonijah and his guests; think, Reader, what terror will appall the souls of sinners at the last day, when Jesus whom they have despised, shall burst forth in the clouds to judgment, and the whole world be summoned by the archangel's trump to stand before his awful throne! The Holy Ghost hath recorded somewhat of those alarms among the guilty, who despised Jesus in this life, but who will then call to the mountains and rocks to fall on them, and to hide them from his presence. Revelation 6:15-17.
(50) And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
God's altar was considered, in the wilderness state of the church, the refuge for sinners. No doubt, with an eye to Jesus, who in the gospel church is our altar himself. The presumptuous man-slayer, was, however, to find no shelter there. See Exodus 21:13-14.
(51) And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, Let king Solomon swear unto me today that he will not slay his servant with the sword. (52) And Solomon said, If he will show himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die. (53) So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house.
Solomon begins his administration in mercy. Go to thine house, said he to Adonijah. But our Jesus's whole administration is mercy. I have said, mercy shall be set up forever. Go and sin no more, is the language of Jesus to the poor, self condemned adulteress. John 8:11.
READER! do not overlook, in the melancholy view which is given us in this chapter of poor David's cold and perishing body, what dying worms the greatest of men are; and how sure and certain it is, that death passeth upon all men, because all have sinned! Precious Jesus! what a relief is it to the souls of thy people, that amidst all the dying circumstances of themselves and the world around, thou livest forever. Oh! the unknown, inexpressible glory, contained in these words, Jesus Christ; the same yesterday, and today, and forever. And, because I live ye shall live also.
How sweet is it to behold dying saints, like David, anxious to provide gracious successors. Particularly dying ministers and servants of our Jesus. Of all the thoughts which lie near the heart of a faithful pastor in Jesus, this must be one of the most anxious, Whom will my God appoint over this household? Whom will the Lord send to go in and out before his people! David's anxiety for thrusting out Adonijah, and establishing Solomon in the kingdom, could not be half so interesting as to a dying, faithful minister, is the concern that the Lord would cast out all the Adonijah's who serve not him, but their own bellies, and send the people pastors after his own heart, which should feed his people in understanding and knowledge. But Reader! amidst the anxious concern of faithful stewards in the household of Jesus, let us comfort ourselves with this pleasing assurance, Jesus hath still the keys, and is still in the midst of the throne to govern. As the church of Jesus, let all his people hope and trust in him. When David dies Solomon shall reign. If he puts out one light he can easily cause another to shine. He hath the stars in his right hand.
But Reader! let us not close the chapter before that we have taken another view of the coronation of Solomon. Surely, as we behold our eyes may well be directed to the contemplation of a more glorious person: for a greater than Solomon is here. Yes, dearest Jesus! if Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, anointed Solomon king; and if the shouts of the multitude, on this occasion, were so great that the very earth rent with the noise; surely heaven and all its powers must take a part in that unequalled joy, when every poor sinner, such as I am, is by thy almighty grace enabled to crown thee Lord of all. Thou hast on thy head many crowns. The crown of the Godhead, being one with the Father. The crown of thy God-man, thy mediatorial glory. The crown of redemption which thou host won, and now wearest. The crown of victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave. And yet, oh! thou dearest Jesus, is not the crown which the sinner puts upon thy sacred head, when thou hast not only wrought out salvation for him by conquering all his foes; but wrought out salvation in him by conquering his own wayward will, which opposed thy government over him; is not this crown precious in thy sight! Oh! Lord Jesus, be thou my sovereign God and king! Gladly do I bow the knee before thee; gladly doth my heart, my soul, and all within me confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.