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1 Kings 1:32-40.
Solomon commenced his reign under peculiar circumstances. Had there been no disturbing element in the house or the kingdom of David, when he slept with his fathers, Solomon his son would have peacefully ascended the vacant throne. But the Divine judgement, which David had brought upon himself, "The sword shall never depart from your house," followed the king even to his dying-bed, and embittered his latest hours. Adonijah, the eldest son, knowing his younger brother had been chosen as his father's successor, anticipated the time of Solomon's accession, and had himself proclaimed king. It was to defeat this usurpation and crush the rising rebellion that by David's command Solomon was hastily raised to the dignity of the regal office. "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. 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." This sudden and unexpected counterplot, as it may be called, carried consternation into the whole body of the conspirators, and the conspiracy at once collapsed. Adonijah had slain sheep and oxen and fat cattle, and had invited all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants; but Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not. They had not yet risen from the feast when the music and the shouts of the people who followed the new king in his progress broke upon their ears. For as Solomon rode upon the king's mule, "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. And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating." When these sounds found an interpreter in Jonathan the son of Abiathar the priest, who came in and told Adonijah that king David had made Solomon king; "all the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way;" and Adonijah himself, fearing Solomon, "arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar." Thus ended an attempt to subvert the kingdom, aided by so astute and brave a general as Joab and supported by the priest Abiathar.
These events we are to regard as having a higher import than that of mere history.
It is a circumstance deserving remark, and not without a higher meaning, that, as David was anointed king before the death of Saul, so Solomon was anointed king before the death of David. Thus the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial, while perfectly distinct, run into each other, like the different colours of the rainbow. For each produces, by its connection with the other, a middle principle that partakes of the nature of both; and this middle principle forms the uniting medium between them. For it is a universal law, that no two things which are discretely distinct can be united but by means of a third that partakes of the nature of both. This is true of the three degrees of the human mind, of the three heavens, and of the three senses of the Word.
Those circumstances which, like the usurpation of Adonijah, form no part of, but are, on the contrary, opposed to the established order of things, are not to be regarded as merely accidental, but as arising out of the disorder which underlies the existing order. The kingdom itself in Israel arose out of disorder. The demand of the Israelites to have a king involved the rejection of the Lord as their King. Their demand was complied with as a lesser evil to prevent a greater. For the evil that produced the cry was that also which required the remedy. The evil that gave rise to their demand manifested itself also in the kings and the kingdom they had chosen. So that the untoward events that happen are to be regarded as outbirths of the state which existed amongst them. Yet as the manifestations of evil are, as far as possible, overruled for good, by that Providence which sees the end from the beginning, so in the present case was the usurpation of Adonijah made to contribute to the stability of Solomon's throne. This it helped to do in two ways. It brought into open manifestation the character of the disloyal who would have weakened the kingdom, and evoked the good feelings of the loyal who maintained it. If it hastened the time of Solomon's accession to the throne, this was but one of the effects produced by the general cause out of which the usurpation of Adonijah arose. And all these are shadows of states and events in the history of our Lord Himself, as the antitype both of David and Solomon, and against whose government all opposing elements were permitted to come into ultimate manifestation, that they might be overcome, and removed out of the way, so that His kingdom, as represented by that of Solomon, the peaceable, might be one of settled peace.
When David gave the command that Solomon should be made king, he commissioned Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, to take the leading part in the ceremonial. These represented the celestial, spiritual, and natural principles into which, as well as by which, he was to be inaugurated.
They were first to cause Solomon to ride upon king David's own mule, which itself was a sign of the transference of the kingdom from the father to the son. But this was not a mere transference, but an exaltation. The rational, which had been subject to the spiritual, was now to be made subject to the celestial.
They were next to take him down to Gihon, and there anoint and proclaim him king. Regarded in its historical sense, it is considered that this was a precautionary measure. Gihon was near Jerusalem, and is supposed to have been on the opposite side of the city to that in which Adonijah had been proclaimed, and where he and his party were assembled. The spiritual reason is to be sought in the representative character of the place itself. Gihon derived its name from the "breaking forth" of a stream; which is not mentioned again, except in the Second Book of Chronicles, where it is said that Hezekiah stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David (2 Chron 32:30); and that he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley (2 Chron 33:14). But besides its name and these indications of its character, we have a guide to its spiritual meaning in the circumstance that Gihon is the name of one of the four heads into which the river was parted that went out from Eden to water the garden (Gen 2:13). These four branches of the river of the water of life signify the finite streams into which the ever-flowing river of Divine Wisdom is parted, when it enters the domain of finite intelligence, in heaven and the Church, and comes to the apprehension of angels and men. The first river is goodness and truth, and the second is the knowledge of all that relates to goodness and truth; and these two belong to the internal man: the third river is reason, and the fourth is knowledge; and these belong to the external man. Gihon was the second river, and therefore signifies the knowledge of goodness and truth, as it is in the internal man. And when we know that Eden signified the celestial man, whose state is described by Eden and all that belonged to it, we can see the reason why Solomon, the peaceful and the wise, the celestial man among the kings of Israel, should go to Gihon to be anointed king.
There is also a speciality mentioned respecting the oil with which he was anointed. The priest took a horn of oil out of the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. In the two previous anointings there is nothing said about the oil being taken from the tabernacle. The mention of it here connects the holy oil with the holy place, and thus connects it with the sanctuary, where the Divine Presence dwelt. The tabernacle also represented the celestial Church, and the worship of the Lord from the holy principle of love.
When they had anointed Solomon they blew the trumpet. The trumpet was used among the Jews, as amongst other nations, to give forth the sound of alarm or of triumph. It was employed in their religious as well as in their state ceremonials, and is associated with the supernatural as well as with natural agencies and events of Scripture. The first time we read of the trumpet in the Bible is on mount Sinai at the giving of the law, when "there were thunders, and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud" (Exod 19:16). As at the beginning of the Mosaic, so at the end of the first Christian dispensation. In the end of the world, or consummation of the age, the Son of Man "shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds" (Matt 24:31). The voice of the trumpet, in these instances, is evidently a sign or symbol of Divine truth, the promulgation of which makes both an end and a beginning, but more especially a beginning, by gathering together from the old the elements that are to form the commencement of the new. The trumpet was used in the Israelitish Church more particularly for calling their holy assemblies. In the general sense, these represented the united consent of the members of the Church to the teaching of Divine truth, and their united action in the worship or service of the Lord: in the individual sense, they represented the united consent of all the thoughts and affections of the mind to the teaching of the Word, and their united action in words of truth and works of righteousness.
The sound of the trumpet after the anointing, as the voice of truth after the influence of love, was the signal for the people to shout. Let king Solomon live, translated into our popular cry of God save the king. The simultaneous cry of the people is the consent of all the common affections and thoughts to the government of the truth which Solomon represented, the truth of wisdom. This is higher than the truth of intelligence, which was represented by David. The truth which David represented is that which teaches the hands to war and the fingers to fight, and which carries on the warfare against the yet unsubdued evils of the corrupt selfhood. The truth represented by Solomon is that which speaks comfortably to Jerusalem, and cries to her that her warfare is accomplished, and through which the Lord speaks peace to His people and to His saints; for mercy and truth are met together, and righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Not only did the multitude acknowledge Solomon as their king, but "all the people came up after him" on his way to Jerusalem, and no doubt in his triumphal entry into it. This following, like the disciples and the multitude following Jesus, represented following practically the teaching and example set before them, which the people have in the Lord, of whom Solomon was the type. The people who followed Solomon piped with pipes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them. Pipes, like all wind instruments, are symbols of celestial affections, as stringed instruments are of spiritual affections. In wind instruments, such as these pipes, the human voice itself speaks, so that there is more of life in the sounds produced by them, than in those produced by simply mechanical means. There is also a distinction between joy and gladness similar to that between wind and string instruments, joy being expressive of celestial, and gladness of spiritual, affection. To rejoice with great joy is to feel and express the delight of life which springs from the highest affections of the heart, which are the affections of love to God. So powerful were the demonstrations of joy that the earth rent with the sound of them. This is considered to be a figurative expression, but as all the figures of Scripture are correspondences, the rending of the earth has more than a figurative meaning. The earth is the natural mind, as heaven is the spiritual mind. When the prophet says, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth," he calls not only heaven and earth, or angels and men, to bear witness to the truth of the words he is about to utter, but he calls upon every member of the Church to hearken, both spiritually and naturally, from all temporal and eternal considerations, to the words of Divine truth. The rending of the earth is not expressed by the same word as the rending of the garments, nor does it express the same idea. It means cleft, laid open, sometimes for the purpose of destruction, as when the earth clave to pieces, and swallowed up Korah and his company (Num 16:31); but also for the coming forth of life, as in the promise, "Then shall your light break forth as the morning" (Isa 58:8). The rending of the earth was a happy event, being an effect of the people's rejoicing; and signifies, therefore, the responsive opening of the natural mind to receive and reciprocate the inward spiritual joy which the beginning of the reign of love awakens in the heart. In the case of Korah we have an awful image of the state of man, when all celestial and spiritual affections sink down into the natural mind, which greedily opens its mouth to receive them, and which swallows them up and destroys them; while in the case of Solomon, we have the opposite state expressed, though not literally represented, of the natural mind opening, as it actually does, to admit the heavenly influences that descend into it whenever it yields a willing submission to the laws of love and truth.
When Solomon was seated on the throne of the kingdom, the king's servants came to bless their lord, king David, saying, "God make the name of Solomon better than your name, and make his throne greater than your throne. And the king bowed himself upon the bed." The name and the throne of Solomon were greater than those of David, as the celestial is greater than the spiritual, as love to God is greater than love to man, although the less is like the greater. When his servants told him, David bowed himself on his bed. A similar act is recorded of Jacob, when Joseph had sworn to carry out his father's desire to bury him, not in Egypt, but in Canaan. Jacob is said to have bowed himself upon the head of his bed; David upon the bed. David speaks of his bed in an evidently mystical sense where he says, "I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into the couch of my bed, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob" (Ps 130:3, 5). The tabernacle of his house is the holy principle of love, and the couch of his bed is the truth which is from that love in the natural mind, into which men could not enter or ascend until the coming of the Lord, and which no one can now enter or ascend until the Lord has found a place in the heart, and the Mighty One of Jacob a habitation in the mind. When, therefore, David bowed himself upon his bed, he gave an outward symbolic sign of the consent of the mind to the supremacy of the principle of goodness in the heart, as the throne where the Lord sits, and whence He exercises His dominion, in those who acknowledge and worship Him as love itself and wisdom itself. In the three instances we have here mentioned the bed is expressed by three different terms, as expressive of the natural mind in its three different states, when it is the support of natural, of spiritual, or of celestial truth and goodness. Jacob's bed answers to the first of these, and David's to the second; the bed into which David resolved not to go up answers to the third; for this resolve was not accomplished in David but in Solomon, who found a place for the Lord when he built the temple, at the dedication of which he quotes this psalm, as having then received its accomplishment.
Besides bowing himself upon his bed, David said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which has given one to sit on my throne this day, mine eyes even seeing it." Not only with the affection of his will, but with the perception of his understanding did David acknowledge the blessing which the Lord God of Israel had bestowed upon the kingdom by the elevation of Solomon to the throne. To bless the Lord is to acknowledge Him as the Author of our blessings. And the blessing which is the ground of David's thanksgiving is the establishment of that order of the religious life, when we see with the eye of faith the exaltation of the grace of love, and our heart is raised in gratitude to the Divine Giver of all good for having brought it to pass in His own time and in His own way. This day includes the state of things represented by all the circumstances existing at the time in the kingdom of Israel. A state of exaltation may arise out of a state of humiliation, a state of safety out of a state of danger, a state of peace out of a state of tribulation. Such was the condition of things when Solomon was raised to the throne of David, giving us the promise that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
The first act of Solomon, as the king of Israel, was one worthy of his kingly character. Adonijah clung to the horns of the altar until Solomon, whom he now acknowledged to be king, should swear that he would not slay him with the sword. 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. So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said to him, Go to your house." Divine pardon is not unconditional, and clemency is not exercised without regard to character and conduct. Worthiness secures life, wickedness brings condemnation and death. The Lord delights in mercy; and these acts of clemency which His creatures perform are but the shadow of those which He is continually doing to the penitents, however grievously they have sinned against Him.1 - next - BM Home - Full Page