Old Age (1 Kings 1:1-3)


Verse 1 Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm. He was seventy years of age; for he was thirty years of age when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years, 2 Samuel 5:4; this was just the age of man, Psalm 90:10; and they covered him with clothes; not wearing apparel, but bed clothes; he seems to have been bedridden and paralytic: but he got no heat; by them; having no natural heat in him, clothes could not communicate any to him, only keep the cold from him, Haggai 1:6; there are many persons at the age he was, that are lively, healthful, and robust, comparatively speaking at least; but David's strength was impaired, and his natural force abated by his many wars, fatigues by night and day in campaigns, and the many sorrows and afflictions he met with from his family and his friends, as well as enemies; which exhausted his natural moisture, weakened his nerves, and drank up his spirits, and brought upon him the infirmities of a decrepit old age very soon. Not only a damsel, but a beautiful one, that she might be the more acceptable to the king; who otherwise, if deformed and ugly, would not have endured her in his sight, or received at her hands, and much less suffered her to lie in his bosom: and found Abishag a Shunammite; a native of the city Shunem, a city in the tribe of Issachar, Joshua 19:18; and brought her to the king; for his approbation of her, and to make her his concubine wife, as he did.

Verse 2 So his servants said to him, “Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm.” His physicians; so Joseph's physicians are called his servants, Genesis 50:2; let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin; not only a young woman, but a virgin, that has more natural heat than women that have bore children have, which is abated thereby: and let her stand before the king: minister to him, serve him with whatsoever he should want to eat or drink; and so by being in his presence, and taking things at her hand, she might be the more ingratiated into his affections: and let her cherish him; as the husband the wife, so she her husband, as doubtless David was; and that by giving him cordials to cheer his spirits, and everything that was convenient for him, and particularly by lying with him, being profitable to him, in which sense the word is used, Job 22:2; that is, by warming him; her being made mistress of his treasures, according to the sense of the word in Isaiah 22:15; that she might have the command of his purse, and provide anything proper for him, without being taken notice of or obstructed; but the Targum is better, and let her be near him, lie close unto him, and even in his bosom, as in the next clause: and let her lie in his bosom; which shows that it was proposed that he should marry her, at least that she should become his concubine wife, since this phrase is descriptive of a wife.

Verse 3 So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. Not only a damsel, but a beautiful one, that she might be the more acceptable to the king; who otherwise, if deformed and ugly, would not have endured her in his sight, or received at her hands, and much less suffered her to lie in his bosom: and found Abishag a Shunammite; a native of the city Shunem, a city in the tribe of Issachar, Joshua 19:18; and brought her to the king; for his approbation of her, and to make her his concubine wife, as he did. This chapter gives an account of the infirmities of David in his old age, and the method used to relieve him under them, 1 Kings 1:1; of the preparation his son Adonijah made to usurp the throne, 1 Kings 1:5; of Bathsheba's address to the king upon it, in favor of her son Solomon, on which she was put by, Nathan the prophet, and seconded in it by him, 1 Kings 1:11; when the king with an oath confirmed the succession of Solomon in the kingdom, and ordered Nathan the prophet, and Zadok the priest, to anoint him, which was accordingly done with great ceremony, to the satisfaction of the king and his servants, 1 Kings 1:28; the news of which being brought to Adonijah and his friends, struck them with terror, and on which they dispersed, 1 Kings 1:41; and upon the promise of Adonijah, that he would behave well to Solomon, he was pardoned and dismissed, having fled and lain hold on the horns of the altar, 1 Kings 1:51.

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