New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary

1Ki 1:1 Now king David was old and advanced in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he couldn’t keep warm-
This is a legitimate translation but "keep warm" is a Hebrew term also used about procreation. There appeared to be some great desire that he should produce yet another child.  

1Ki 1:2 Therefore his servants said to him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin. Let her stand before the king, and cherish him; and let her lie on your chest, so that my lord the king may keep warm-
If indeed there were genuine health reasons for this (although see on :1), it seems morally questionable. Despite David's undoubted faith and spirituality, his life leaves many abiding questions about his basic ethics and those of his immediate circle. 

1Ki 1:3 So they sought for a beautiful young lady throughout all the borders of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king-
"Abishag" is literally father / mother of the erring / astray. The language is so similar to Esther 2:2 that it indeed seems that a wife, of sorts, was being found for David. Some read "Shulamite", the word of Song 6:13 for Solomon's lover, a female version of the name "Solomon". In this case we can see some kind of manipulation going on to try to ensure that David's final wife and possible child were within Solomon and Bathsheba's camp.

1Ki 1:4 The young lady was very beautiful; and she cherished the king, and ministered to him; but the king didn’t know her intimately-
This could be read as meaning that she failed to bring him to heat in a sexual sense (see on :1), and so the comment here is to the effect that the plan didn't work. Before David's repentance he appears to have suffered with some kind of serious disease soon after it: "My loins are filled with a loathsome (venereal?) disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh" (Ps. 38:7). It is even possible that David became impotent as a result of this; for we get the impression that from this point onwards he took no other wives, he had no more children, and even the fail safe cure for hypothermia didn't seem to mean much to David (1 Kings 1:1-4). Therefore "My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore" (Ps. 38:11) must refer to some kind of venereal disease. The Hebrew word translated "lovers" definitely refers to carnal love rather than that of friendship. It may be that an intensive plural is being used here- in which case it means 'my one great lover', i.e. Bathsheba.

1Ki 1:5 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king-
He was the oldest surviving son of David and therefore considered in line for the throne.

Then he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him-
"Prepared" or "established" is a major theme in the promises of the eternal establishment of David's throne (2 Sam. 7:12,13,16 etc.), and Solomon wrongly assumed that the conditional nature of the promises concerning the seed were just irrelevant to him as he had wisdom. Therefore he uses the word of how his kingdom has been "established" (1 Kings 2:24 s.w.). Solomon's contenders for the throne were all stopped by God, they tried to prepare or establish themselves but it never worked out (2 Sam. 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5); and so surely Solomon has the idea in mind that he has been established as the promised Messianic seed of David with an eternally "established" throne and kingdom. This leads him to the conclusion that the outcome of wisdom and folly is in this life, and he has no perspective of a final day of judgment and eternal establishment of God's Kingdom on earth. This is why the simplistic dichotomies he presents in Proverbs between the blessed and wise, and the cursed and foolish, are not always true to observed experiences in this life. For it is the future Kingdom which puts them in ultimate perspective.

 Absalom did the same (2 Sam. 15:1), and the similarities in the rebellions mean that David was intended to learn from them.

1Ki 1:6 His father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why have you done so? And he was also a very handsome man; and he was born after Absalom-
We are immediately given the hint that he was of the same character and appearance of Absalom, and also similar to Saul (1 Sam. 9:2). Perhaps we are to understand that David had never disciplined him, unlike Solomon who in his Proverbs reflects upon David's discipline of him. Or maybe the idea is more specifically that David had never forbidden his clear pretensions to the throne, despite his stated desire for Solomon to succeed him. 

1Ki 1:7 He conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest: they followed Adonijah and helped him-
That Joab David's cousin, should turn away from David after a lifetime of loyalty is hard to understand. But we sense a personality conflict between the two of them, and indeed it seems that originally Joab had supported Absalom's idea of seizing power, but then fell out with him. David held Joab as too hard a man, not understanding grace; whereas Joab held David to be far too soft, and increasingly lacking strong leadership skills in his old age. The support for Adonijah was perhaps more because of disillusion with David than because Adonijah personally had much to offer.

Abiathar's father and family had all been slain as a result of loyalty to David, and maybe decades later this remained as a source of bitterness to him. Or perhaps he was simply in a jealousy complex against Zadok, as it is unclear which of them was the high priest.

1Ki 1:8 But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei, Rei and the mighty men who belonged to David, were not with Adonijah-
We see here the division between the two priests, Abiathar and Zadok, who had been so united in helping David survive Absalom's putsch. Perhaps there was jealousy between them because Abiathar was the priest in Jerusalem, whilst Zadok cared for the tabernacle at Gibeon, which was "the great high place" (1 Chron. 16:39; 1 Kings 3:4). "The mighty men" are those listed in 2 Sam. 23. If "Shimei" is the Shimei who cursed David, then we see his loyalty to David now; and that David should later order his murder is the more reprehensible.

1Ki 1:9 Adonijah killed sheep and cattle and fatlings by the stone of Zoheleth, which is beside En Rogel; and he called all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants-
This is another similarity with Absalom's revolt (see on :5), who began his revolt with a religious festival. It is alluded to by Solomon in Prov. 21:27: "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination: how much more, when he brings it with a wicked mind!". Solomon may have in view Saul's rejection from the kingship for his wrong attitude to sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:21,22). Likewise the attempts of Absalom and Adonijah to take the throne from David and Solomon involved the offering of sacrifices (2 Sam. 15:12; 1 Kings 1:9). What Solomon says in the Proverbs is true on one level, but he harnesses Divine truth to justify himself and his own agendas; just as we can.

1Ki 1:10 but Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he didn’t call-
As with Absalom's rebellion, sympathizers were invited to a religious feast, and this was used to declare the new king.

1Ki 1:11 Then Nathan spoke to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon saying, Haven’t you heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith reigns, and David our lord doesn’t know it?-
"Adonijah" means 'Yah is lord', although clearly he wasn't a spiritual man. Nathan refers to David as their 'Lord'. Perhaps this is intended to be another example of how faithful women like Sarah called their husbands "lord" (1 Pet. 3:6).

1Ki 1:12 Now therefore come, please let me give you advice, that you may save your own life, and the life of your son Solomon-
Nathan is in fact giving Bathsheba his advice, knowing that the usurper would typically slay the family of his rivals. But Nathan frames his approach as asking for her advice. Bathsheba was it seems the favoured queen. We wonder why Abigail had fallen out of favour; although mortality for women being so low in those times, she may well have died by this stage.

1Ki 1:13 Go in to king David and tell him, ‘Didn’t you, my lord, king, swear to your handmaid saying, Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then does Adonijah reign?’-
It was God who had sworn to David that his "son" would reign on his throne, and Nathan was the prophet through whom he had been told this. But David seems to have assumed that he had some choice to make in directing God's purpose, and had in turn sworn that Solomon should reign on his throne. The similarity of the wording suggests that he assumed Solomon was going to be the fulfilment of the promises to him of 2 Sam. 7. But this was in fact setting Solomon up for spiritual failure, as do many such parental assumptions. For those promises were conditional. And just as David refused to take full note of that, therefore neither did Solomon. He assumed he was the Messianic son of David and ignored the conditions, leading to his own spiritual shipwreck.  

1Ki 1:14 Whilst you are talking there with the king, I also will come in after you, and confirm your words-
Literally, 'fulfil the words'. As discussed on :13, we sense that the words in view are those of the promises to David about his seed, which David had too quickly assumed must refer to Solomon. We note that Nathan too had too quickly assumed he knew God's will and word in 2 Sam. 7:3-5.

1Ki 1:15 Bathsheba went in to the king into the room. The king was very old; and Abishag the Shunammite was ministering to the king-
We are naturally reminded of she had first come in to the king when they committed adultery. And now she enters his bedroom uninvited, and finds a far younger woman trying to sexually arouse him (see on :1). The whole situation is indeed tragic, and the outcome of not going God's way in moral matters.

1Ki 1:16 Bathsheba bowed, and showed respect to the king. The king said, What would you like?-
The single Hebrew word "what?" could suggest he was indeed so frail he could hardly speak beyond single words.

1Ki 1:17 She said to him, My lord, you swore by Yahweh your God to your handmaid, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne’-
See on :13. She obediently repeats verbatim the words Nathan had put in her mouth. This continues the theme of David being manipulated by people and people being used as puppets by others.

1Ki 1:18 Now, look, Adonijah reigns; and you, my lord the king, don’t know it-
She calls David "lord" many times. We get the impression of deep and rightful respect for him, despite his failures. Perhaps this is intended to be another example of how faithful women like Sarah called their husbands "lord" (1 Pet. 3:6).

1Ki 1:19 He has killed cattle, fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the army; but he hasn’t called Solomon your servant-
David's heart must have slumped as he heard these words. He died with the pain of betrayal by Adonijah, Joab and Abiathar. It would be wrong to imagine him dying a happy man at peace. His life indeed had been full of such traumas ever since his sin of passion with Bathsheba. How bitterly he must have regretted it.

1Ki 1:20 You, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, that you should tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him-
David apparently had not made any public pronouncement about his intentions for Solomon, although he had done so privately to Bathsheba and Nathan, the prophet who had first given him the promises about his "son".

1Ki 1:21 Otherwise it will happen, when my lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, that I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders-
Heb. "sinners". The idea may be that Bathsheba's marriage would be declared void because of David's sin with her, and therefore Solomon pronounced an illegitimate son. David died with this reminder of that sin of passion which would have seemed so long ago, and, to the human mind, dealt with by the passage of time and the grief over Absalom.

1Ki 1:22 Behold, while she still talked with the king, Nathan the prophet came in-
Again, without invitation; David would have guessed this had all been set up. David makes no recorded response to Bathsheba's words, possibly because he was so frail (see on :16). 

1Ki 1:23 They told the king, saying, Here is Nathan the prophet! When he had come in before the king, he bowed down before the king with his face to the ground-
Whilst this may have been mere formality, we do have the overall impression of deep respect towards David by his inner circle. They were mature enough to realize he had indeed been a man after God's own heart, despite major failings which they accepted as out of character with him; and they did not focus upon those failures, but upon his overall life and character. And therefore respected him still very deeply. This is a good pattern for us in our attitudes to others. See on :26.

1Ki 1:24 Nathan said, My lord, king, have you said, ‘Adonijah shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne?’-
Perhaps Adonijah was falsely claiming this, abusing his father's frail state. Or maybe this was a device by Nathan to get the king to mutter some response, to provoke him to mental awareness in his weak state; see on :16,22.

1Ki 1:25 For he is gone down this day, and has killed cattle and fatlings and sheep in abundance, and has called all the king’s sons, and the captains of the army, and Abiathar the priest. Even now they are eating and drinking before him and saying, ‘Long live king Adonijah!’-
To eat and drink before a king was a sign of support for him and his acceptance; and there is something of this in the meaning of the breaking of bread service.

1Ki 1:26 But he hasn’t called me, even me your servant, nor Zadok the priest, nor Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon-
Nathan's respect of David comes out strongly- "me, even me your servant". See on :23.

1Ki 1:27 Is this thing done by my lord the king, and you haven’t shown to your servants who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?-
Again this may be a device by Nathan to provoke the frail minded king to speak forth. Or perhaps indeed he had not openly stated his desire for Solomon to be king. "After him" again alludes to the promises about the "son" which Nathan had given David, and it seems he is again implying that David is to state now who is going to fulfil them. Again, as discussed on :13, their conditional nature is being ignored by everyone. And it led Solomon to do the same.

1Ki 1:28 Then king David answered, Call to me Bathsheba. She came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king-
Perhaps Nathan left the room at this point (:32). "Call me Bathsheba" would have inevitably recalled to his mind how he had said those fateful words to his servants decades previously, and now he was still suffering the result of that sin.

1Ki 1:29 The king swore and said, As Yahweh lives, who has redeemed my soul out of all adversity-
Earlier, David in the Psalms had so often asked God to redeem him, e.g. in Ps. 69:18: "Draw near to my soul, and redeem it. Ransom me because of my enemies". God had already forgiven David, ransoming and redeeming him. But he was left to suffer the consequences of those sins, and because of that, in crisis he starts to wonder whether he has indeed been forgiven. And we can do the same so easily. The consequence of sin is death, and we can squirm against this when we or others face it... forgetting the wonder of the fact that we are indeed redeemed and ransomed from the power of the grave, although we must still take the consequences.  At the very end of his life, David realized that he had in fact been redeemed (s.w. 1 Kings 1:29). He could give up his spirit to God in death, knowing that He was redeemed from the power of the grave (s.w. Ps. 31:5; 49:15). His sure hope in the resurrection of the body looked ahead to the attitude with which the Lord Jesus died.

These are the words of Jacob in Gen. 48:16 and also of David earlier, at 2 Sam. 4:9. What Jacob only learnt at the end of his life, David learnt and applied during his life. And we should likewise not be experiential learners, but learn instead from Jacob. David stresses that Yahweh had redeemed him, and he had not needed to take vengeance himself. He repeats this in now; he was deeply aware of Yahweh's redemption of him by grace right to his last days.

1Ki 1:30 most certainly as I swore to you by Yahweh the God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place;’ most certainly so will I do this day-
As discussed on :13, he wrongly assumes that he can pronounce Solomon as the fulfilment of the promises made to him. For he speaks in the language of the promises of 2 Sam. 7; and this refusal to accept their conditionality, and fulfilment by grace rather than his pronouncement, was what led Solomon to spiritual disaster in the longer term.

1Ki 1:31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and showed respect to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live forever!-
To say this to a man on his deathbed is perhaps consciously intended to show the meaningless nature of this common phrase.

1Ki 1:32 King David said, Call to me Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. They came before the king-
Perhaps Nathan had left the bedroom when Bathsheba was summoned back (:28). Or perhaps this is yet another indication of the very weak mental state of David. 

1Ki 1:33 The king said to them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon-
The first mention of mules in the Bible is associated with Absalom's murder of Amnon his brother (2 Sam. 13:29). They were cross bred in disobedience to Lev. 19:19. We get the impression that a generally slack attitude to what might have been considered minor matters of the law was associated with the major sin of murder. This is the problem when we start to think that some parts of God's laws can just be ignored. David was fond of them, having his own mule (1 Kings 1:33), and Solomon was willing to receive them as tribute (1 Kings 10:25).

1Ki 1:34 Let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel. Blow the trumpet, and say, ‘Long live king Solomon!’-
This anointing ought to have been done earlier, as it was with David. We wonder whether David had some slight doubts about Solomon's suitability, hence his lack of public pronouncement about Solomon being his chosen successor. Or perhaps David just wanted to hold on to personal power to the bitter end, and hadn't wanted to appoint anyone in his place through a public proclamation. There had not yet been any anointing or trumpet blowing for Adonijah, so this was in order to upstage that happening.

1Ki 1:35 Then you shall come up after him-
Just as men had followed after Adonijah (:7). 

And he shall come and sit on my throne; for he shall be king in my place. I have appointed him to be prince over Israel and over Judah-
On one hand we could read the usage of the word "prince" as reflecting how Yahweh was the ultimate king of Israel. Or we could read it as reflecting David's dogged desire, typical of an old man, to hold on to his own kingly power until his last breath. Or we could see it as a Messianic term, as it is in Dan. 9:25, again showing that David thought he could make Solomon the fulfilment of the promises of a Messianic seed just by pronouncing it from his deathbed- ignoring all the conditional clauses which accompanied those promises.

1Ki 1:36 Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king and said, Amen. May Yahweh, the God of my lord the king, say so too-
This is a clear example of the meaning of the word "Amen". It is a statement that we believe in faith that God also wills to be so what we have said Amen to. His "Amen" is therefore our "Amen". There is a similar example in Jer. 28:6.  

1Ki 1:37 As Yahweh has been with my lord the king, even so may He be with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David-
Benaiah too is alluding to the promises to David, and stating his belief that they are to be fulfilled through Solomon- again ignoring all the conditional clauses which accompanied those promises. "So may He be" is Heb. "so shall He be".     

1Ki 1:38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, went down and caused Solomon to ride on king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon-
"Pelethite" is arguably a form of the word "Philistine". There is a theme in David's life of his former enemies, even Gentiles against whom he had fought and slain their families, became his most loyal supporters and servants, right to the end of his days. This loyalty is a reflection not only of their respect of his personal integrity, despite some out of character failures; but especially of their conversion to Yahweh, David's God. 

1Ki 1:39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. They blew the trumpet; and all the people said, Long live king Solomon!-
The horn of oil refers to the specific horn from which the holy anointing oil was poured upon the priests. Zadok cared for the tabernacle at Gibeon, which was "the great high place" (1 Chron. 16:39; 1 Kings 3:4), and so it is another example of correlation within the inspired records that he had access to that horn and the oil with which to anoint Solomon (1 Kings 1:39). Using this oil to anoint a king would therefore have presented Solomon as a king-priest.   

1Ki 1:40 All the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth shook with their sound-
We can assume that there was mass popular support for Solomon, far greater than for Adonijah. 

1Ki 1:41 Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. When Joab heard the sound of the trumpet he said, Why is this noise of the city being in an uproar?-
The feast would have taken some days; for the horn of priestly anointing oil had to be fetched from Gibeon (:39).

1Ki 1:42 While he yet spoke, behold, Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest came: and Adonijah said, Come in; for you are a worthy man, and bring good news-
The record here repeats the coming in of messengers to David earlier in this chapter. Despite his revolt against his father David, he perhaps unconsciously repeats his father's very words as he awaited news of the battle with Absalom. He could not ultimately throw off the ties that bind. We note that Jonathan had earlier run messages for David in the time of Absalom's revolt (2 Sam. 17:17); now he does so for Adonijah, and was perceived as a "worthy man", on Adonijah's side. All these things have the ring of psychological credibility to them. This is how life goes.

1Ki 1:43 Jonathan answered Adonijah, Most certainly our lord king David has made Solomon king-
The hint could be that "most certainly" he did carry good news, that Solomon had been made king. Already even the messenger was seeking to cover himself against the inevitable repercussions of a failed power grab. Hence he calls David "our lord king David".

1Ki 1:44 The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and they have caused him to ride on the king’s mule-
Jonathan is careful to report things exactly as they were and as had observed them in Jerusalem. He is bravely giving no intimation of continued loyalty to Adonijah and his own father Abiathar who was his main support.

1Ki 1:45 Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king in Gihon. They have come up from there rejoicing, so that the city rang again. This is the noise that you have heard-
Again we see that there was mass popular support for David's choice of Solomon, and not so much for Adonijah.

1Ki 1:46 Also, Solomon sits on the throne of the kingdom-
Solomon had literally been sat upon David's throne, and Jonathan had seen it.

1Ki 1:47 Moreover the king’s servants came to bless our lord king David saying, ‘May your God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and make his throne greater than your throne’; and the king bowed himself on the bed-
Again "our lord king David" shows that Jonathan's loyalties were now with David and Solomon again. The fickleness of human loyalty is a great theme of the records of David's life.

1Ki 1:48 Also thus said the king, ‘Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, my eyes even seeing it’-
These words of David aren't recorded but there is no reason to doubt Jonathan's account of them. Those words are clearly allusive to the promises in 2 Sam. 7 that David's eyes would see his Messianic son / seed enthroned, implying David's resurrection. LXX adds "one of my seed", confirming this. But David instead assumed that they were true in his lifetime, and that Solomon was indeed the Messianic seed promised. By this wrong assumption, David was ignoring the conditional aspects to the promises- that Solomon had to prove himself obedient to Yahweh. By doing so, David set Solomon up for spiritual failure, through merely assuming his acceptability to God regardless of his lifestyle; see on :13. 

1Ki 1:49 All the guests of Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and each man went his way-
Again we see the fickleness of human loyalty, which is such a great theme of the records of David's life.

1Ki 1:50 Adonijah feared because of Solomon; and he arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar-
He must have somehow smuggled himself into the sanctuary, otherwise he would have been arrested and charged with treason well beforehand. He was treating the altar as a kind of talisman, just as the surrounding religions did. The horns of the altar were smeared with the blood of atonement (Ex. 29:12; 30:10), so he may have been assuming that he would somehow get forgiveness by doing this.

1Ki 1:51 It was told Solomon saying, Behold, Adonijah fears king Solomon; for, behold, he has laid hold on the horns of the altar, saying, ‘Let king Solomon swear to me first that he will not kill his servant with the sword’-
The idea was that if God had atoned for his sin of rebellion (see on :50), then Solomon should not carry out the death penalty. The whole process of reasoning was very twisted, and are in fact the words of an equally twisted Jacob to Esau in Gen. 25:31,33. 

1Ki 1:52 Solomon said, If he shows himself a worthy man, not a hair of him shall fall to the earth; but if wickedness be found in him, he shall die-
Solomon is intentionally vague. Not a hair falling to the earth could be read as meaning that an intended punishment would not be carried out (1 Sam. 14:45; 2 Sam. 14:11). "But if wickedness be found..." could be read as meaning 'If there is any more of this in future', or 'We will investigate the matter by judgment and the just penalty will be given in future'.

1Ki 1:53 So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. He came and bowed down to king Solomon; and Solomon said to him, Go to your house
This was not real forgiveness, because Solomon evidently considered it not politic to immediately slay Adonijah, but that was his intention. Perhaps he was reasoning that Adonijah's support base would be encouraged to repent if they saw that they were not going to all be slain. And Solomon probably didn't feel he had the political strength at that point to slay men like Joab and Abiathar. And we must examine our own apparent forgiveness of others, to determine whether it is really just a matter of politics and prudence rather than true forgiveness.