We have here,
I. The tidings of Solomon’s inauguration brought to Adonijah and his party, in the midst of their jollity: They had made an end of eating, and, it should seem, it was a great while before they made an end, for all the affair of Solomon’s anointing was ordered and finished while they were at dinner, glutting themselves. Thus those who serve not our Lord Christ, but oppose him, are commonly such as serve their own belly (Rom. 16:18) and made a god of it, Phil. 3:19. Their long feast intimates likewise that they were very secure and confident of their interest, else they would not have lost so much time. The old world and Sodom were eating and drinking, secure and sensual, when their destruction came, Luke 17:26-29 When they made an end of eating, and were preparing themselves to proclaim their king, and bring him in triumph into the city, they heard the sound of the trumpet (1 Kgs. 1:41), and a dreadful sound it was in their ears, Job 15:21. Joab was an old man, and was alarmed at it, apprehending the city to be in an uproar; but Adonijah was very confident that the messenger, being a worthy man, brought good tidings, 1 Kgs. 1:42. Usurpers flatter themselves with the hopes of success, and those are commonly least timorous whose condition is most dangerous. But how can those who do evil deeds expect to have good tidings? No, the worthiest man will bring them the worst news, as the priest’s son did here to Adonijah, 1 Kgs. 1:43. “Verily, the best tidings I have to bring you is that Solomon is made king, so that your pretensions are all quashed.” He relates to them very particularly, 1. With what great solemnity Solomon was made king (1 Kgs. 1:44, 45), and that he was now sitting on the throne of the kingdom, 1 Kgs. 1:46. Adonijah thought to have stepped into the throne before him, but Solomon was too quick for him. 2. With what general satisfaction Solomon was made king, so that that which was done was not likely to be undone again. (1.) The people were pleased, witness their joyful acclamations, 1 Kgs. 1:45. (2.) The courtiers were pleased: The kings servants attended him with an address of congratulation upon this occasion, 1 Kgs. 1:47. We have here the heads of their address: They blessed king David, applauded his prudent care for the public welfare, acknowledged their happiness under his government, and prayed heartily for his recovery. They also prayed for Solomon, that God would make his name better than his father’s, which it might well be when he had his father’s foundation to build upon. A child, on a giant’s shoulders, is higher than the giant himself. (3.) The king himself was pleased: He bowed himself upon the bed, not only to signify his acceptance of his servants’ address, but to offer up his own address to God (1 Kgs. 1:48): “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who, as Israel’s God, for Israel’s good, has brought this matter to such a happy issue, my eyes even seeing it.” Note, It is a great satisfaction to good men, when they are going out of the world, to see the affairs of their families in a good posture, their children rising up in their stead to serve God and their generation, and especially to see peace upon Israel and the establishment of it.
II. The effectual crush which this gave to Adonijah’s attempt. It spoiled the sport of his party, dispersed the company, and obliged every man to shift for his own safety. The triumphing of the wicked is short. They were building a castle in the air, which, having no foundation, would soon fall and crush them. They were afraid of being taken in the fact, while they were together hatching their treason, and therefore each one made the best of his way.
III. The terror Adonijah himself was in, and the course he took to secure himself. He was now as much depressed as he had been elevated, 1 Kgs. 1:42, 50. He had despised Solomon as not worthy to be his guest (1 Kgs. 1:10), but now he dreads him as his judge: He feared because of Solomon. Thus those who oppose Christ and his kingdom will shortly be made to tremble before him, and call in vain to rocks and mountains to shelter them from his wrath. He took hold on the horns of the altar, which was always looked upon as a sanctuary, or place of refuge (Exod. 21:14), intimating hereby that he durst not stand a trial, but threw himself upon the mercy of his prince, in suing for which he relied upon no other plea than the mercy of God, which was manifested in the institution and acceptance of the sacrifices that were offered on that altar and the remission of sin thereupon. Perhaps Adonijah had formerly slighted the service of the altar, yet now he courts the protection of it. Many who in the day of their security neglect the great salvation, under the arrests of the terrors of the Lord would gladly be beholden to Christ and his merit, and, when it is too late, will catch hold of the horns of the altar.
IV. His humble address to Solomon for mercy. By those who brought Solomon tidings where he was, he sent a request for his life (1 Kgs. 1:51): Let king Solomon swear to me that he will not slay his servant. He owns Solomon for his prince, and himself his servant, dares not justify himself, but makes supplication to his judge. It was a great change with him. He that in the morning was grasping at a crown is before night begging for his life. Then Adonijah reigned, now Adonijah trembles, and cannot think himself safe unless Solomon promise, with an oath, not to put him to death.
V. The orders Solomon gave concerning him. He discharges him upon his good behaviour, 1 Kgs. 1:52, 53. He considered that Adonijah was his brother, and that it was the first offence. Perhaps, being so soon made sensible of his error and then not persisting in his rebellion, he might prove not only a peaceable, but a serviceable subject, and therefore, if he will conduct himself well for the future, what is past shall be pardoned: but if he be fond disaffected, turbulent, and aspiring, this offence shall be remembered against him, he shall be called up upon his former conviction (as our law speaks), and execution shall be awarded against him. Thus the Son of David receives those to mercy that have been rebellious: if they will return to their allegiance, and be faithful to their Sovereign, their former crimes shall not be mentioned against them; but, if still they continue in the interests of the world and the flesh, this will be their ruin. Adonijah is sent for, and told upon what terms he stands, which he signifies his grateful submission to, and then is told to go to his house and live retired there. Solomon not only gave him his life, but his estate, thus establishing his throne by mercy.