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By the reverence which Solomon shewed to his mother, we may conclude, that he would have coniplied with her request, if it had been lawful for him to do so: but Bath-sheba had never considered the consequences of it; she therefore, we may conclude, readily absolved her son from his promise, when she was taught to see Adonijah's petition in a proper light.
Achish, the king of Gath, had been so great a friend to David, that though David had conquered the Philistines, he suffered him still to retain the title of a king, and only made him tributary; so that there was a friendly correspondence between his city and Jerusalem, by which means Shimei might easily hear that his servants were there ; but he should have sent another to seek them; and he certainly drew his punishment upon his own head, because he was forewarned of the consequences of his presuming to go out of Jerusalem, and by doing so he gave reason to suspect that he had seditious purposes
in view. What is supposed to be the true interpretation of David's dying injunction respecting Shimei, has been already explained: and we find that Solomon, who was the wisest of men, put the same construction on his father's words. His treatment to Shimei furnishes us with a sufficient answer to those who censure David on this head *.
* I have hitherto avoided the discussion of Bath-sheba's charac. ter, for the same reasons which deterred me from entering into every particular of David's conduct in respect to Uriah; but it may be necessary to observe that it appears from Solomon's respectful treatment of ber, and from some expressions in the Proverbs, that she was in her general behaviour an amiable woman, not that this justifies her crime. She certainly was a partaker in David's sin; and, we may conclude, a partner also in his sorrow, remorse, and chastisement.
It is a needless question to enquire, why David was not commanded to put her away, since we have in the New Testament clear and
SOLOMON'S SACRIFICES AT GIBEON-HIS DREAM.
From 2 Chron. Chap. i, and 1 Kings, Chap. iii.
And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly.
And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father ; only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high places.
Then Solomon spake unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers.
So Solomon and all the congregation with him went to the high place that was at Gibeon: for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness.
But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjath-jearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem.
Moreover, the brazen altar that Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the Lord: and Solomon and the congregation sought unto it.
express laws in respect to adulterers; and therefore have no occasion to refer to David's history in this particular: if we do, it should be with a view to observe the unhappy consequences of his deviations from the marriage law, instituted at the creation. The custom of the age authorised in some degree a plurality of wives; but whoerer considers the tenderness of Darid's disposition, and his par. ticular fondness for luis sons, may conceive that he would liave enjoyed more domestic happiness had they been all the children of one mother.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and GOD said, Ask what I shall give thee.
And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee, and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on the throne, as it is this day.
And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father : and I am but as a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be num. bered nor counted for multitude.
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.
And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, nei. ther hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understand. ing to discern judgment: Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream:
and he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up a thousand burnt-offerings, and offered peace-offerings, and made a feast to all his servants.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Notwithstanding David had taken such extraordinary pains to establish the public worship of God at JERU. SALEM, it still remained irregular in some instances; particular in respect to sacrificing on HIGH PLACES, which custoin was practised by Abraham and the rest of the patriarchs through necessity, as the wandering lives they led would not admit of a settled place. Therefore every high hill and every grove, where these faithful servants assembled their families, in order to perform their devotions to ALMIGHTY GOD, was sanctified by His acceptance of their offerings, and became, in the general sense of the word, the House of God to them. As soon as the ARK was deposited in the Tabernacle, and holy ordinances were appointed of the LORD, it became unlawful for the Israelites to offer burnt-sacrifices at any other place but the BRAZEN ALTAR; and that the people might have an opportunity of resorting to it on proper occasions, the Tabernacle, with the Ark, and all the appurtenances of holy worship, were carried about and set up, wherever the children of Israel rested during their journeyings towards the land of Canaan, till at length it was fixed at Shiloh.
We have read, how greatly this sinful people corrupted. the worship of God, by mixing with idolatrous nations ; and we know, that when the goodness of GoD recalled them to a sense of their duty by chastisements, they soon drew his anger upon them again by fresh provocations, so that the DIVINE PRESENCE did not constantly abide н 6
with them; for the Ark was neglected, and few thought or desired to have recourse to it; but instead of that, many who professed to adore the true God, worshipped him according to the customs and rites which other nations practised toward idols.
The Israelites had preserved the Tabernacle, with the identical Brazen Altar, &c. made according to the directions of Moses, by Bezaleel, and fixed it at Gibeon, where the sons of Eli had brought it into disrepute, by their abominable profanations; and made the people suppose, that their sacrifices might be more efficacious, if offered on altars erected where their forefathers had sacrificed. Numbers however still resorted to the Holy Altar; but the service was incomplete, as the Ark was separated from it; and even the prophet Samuel, in compliance with the custom of the times, offered sacrifices on HIGH PLACES.
It has been related, with what solemnity David conducted the Ark to Jerusalem; and there is no doubt but that it was his intention to remove the Tabernacle also, had he been permitted to execute his purpose of build. ing a Temple; but as he was commanded to consign that work to his son, David contented himself with giving directions concerning every particular to Solomon, who continued to follow the usual mode of worship, till such time as the House of the LORD should be built. We find however that he went to Gibeon, in order to add all possible solemnity to his GREAT sacrifice. It is supposed, from the number of oxen, &c. which Solomon is said to have offered at Gibeon, that he extended the festival; and instead of keeping it seven days, as the law required, continued sacrificing every day, till he had offered the number of victims related. It is very probable, that during this solemnity Solomon