SOLOMON, KING OF ISRAEL
--JULY 11.--1 KINGS 1:1TO 2:12.--
KING DAVID AGED--A FRESH REVOLT BREWING--SOLOMON
CALLED TO THE THRONE OF ISRAEL--HIS ANOINTING AS THE
LORD'S CHOICE--THE APPROVAL OF THE MULTITUDE
--THE MEANING OF HIS NAME--HIS NATURAL ADVANTAGES
AND PREPARATION FOR HIS HONORS.
"Know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a
perfect heart and with a willing mind."--1 Chronicles 28:9.
KING DAVID was seventy years of age; Absalom, his eldest son, had died in rebellion not long before the present lesson opens. David's next oldest son was Adonijah, whom the death of Absalom had made the heir-apparent to the throne, and who is supposed to have been between thirty and forty years of age at this time. Joab, for a long time the head of David's army, must have been well-advanced in years too, and probably was on the retired list, not merely on account of age, but because he had deeply wounded King David's feelings in disregarding his instructions that Absalom's life should not be taken.
Adonijah thought the time ripe for him to proclaim himself king, and especially as he had succeeded in gaining the friendship of Joab, the long-time military leader, and the friendship, too, of one of the prominent priests. He made a feast, to which were invited, apparently, all of King David's sons except Solomon, who was ostensibly known to be more or less a favorite with his father. The feast was held not far from Jerusalem, and the arrangement was made that in the midst of the feast one of the company should salute Adonijah as king. The others of his company were expected to echo the sentiment; and thus the movement would seemingly be a popular one and not a rebellion. It carried out much as planned thus far.
However, in God's providence, the matter was brought to the notice of King David, who promptly made the arrangement with the new general, Benaiah, with Nathan the Prophet, and with Zadok the priest, to have Solomon immediately placed upon the king's white mule, as a sign that the king had approved him as his successor. Then he was anointed in the name of the Lord; and forthwith the military salute was given, and the people of the whole city of Jerusalem shouted their joy, "Long live King Solomon." Next in turn, by King David's direction, King Solomon was brought to the throne and publicly crowned.
Adonijah, whose plans seemed to be working thoroughly, was astounded, and so were those with him, when they heard the clamor of the people, blowing of horns, etc., and later learned that it meant that Solomon had been crowned and enthroned. Adonijah feared for his life and fled; and his adherents melted away. Later, however, Solomon sent word to his brother Adonijah, assuring him of peace.
Thus beautifully King David's public career ended, not in an eclipse, but at his zenith, in his full maturity of old age, and in his perpetuation upon the throne in the person of his chosen son. To him may well be applied the poet's words:
"He sets as sets the morning star,
Which goes not down behind the darkened west,
Nor hides obscured amid the tempests of the sky,
But melts away into the light of heaven."
SOLOMON, SON OF PEACE
Solomon's name has come to signify wisdom; but originally, primarily, it meant Peaceful. It surely was a prophecy of his wonderful life, in which was no war.
Solomon was the son of Bathsheba, after she had legally become David's wife. Somehow, not explained, the Lord had revealed to David that Solomon was to be his successor; and David had promised Bathsheba to this effect. Solomon was born at a period when King David's activities as a warrior had very nearly closed and when the great double sin of King David's life and his repentance from it had, we believe, wonderfully moderated and chastened him. His loyalty to God in this serious matter, his earnest prayer for forgiveness and his realization of peace from God, apparently had made a new man of King David. Even though before this he had been loyal to God, he apparently was now still more devoted. The peace which he craved, and which was a mark of Divine forgiveness, may have had something to do with the gentle and thoughtful character of King Solomon, and something also perhaps to do with his name. It may have been given him as signifying that his birth marked peace with God on the part of his parents.
In any event, in Solomon we perceive a different character from that manifested by any of his brethren whose histories are recorded. He partook of his father David's religious disposition more than the others. He was thus highly favored, and really probably more gifted. Truly it is time for us to estimate to what extent [R5701 : page 171] others and ourselves are handicapped or blessed by dispositions and character-traits which we inherit.
Another thing favorable to Solomon would appear to have been the fact that his mother was not of a heathen family, but an Israelite, and therefore more in sympathy with the Divine arrangement, Law, worship, etc., than others of David's wives.
Additionally, the Record seems to show that King David, having in mind a successor to his throne, and perhaps by that time having realized that he had not done his full duty by his other children in allowing them to grow up under the adverse influences of the court, rectified the matter in the case of Solomon while he was still young, leaving him partly in his mother's care, and appointing him as the ward and pupil of the Prophet Nathan. This excellent start in life doubtless had much to do with Solomon's career, which we shall examine in our next Study.