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breath of winter! When the tide flowed strongly in his favour, and the cause looked hopeful, the popularity of David's son was great, and these “mighty men” were his adherents. When his pathway to the throne seemed unobstructed, they cheered him on, and with their followers “they eat and drank before him," and joined in the loud acclaim, “God save King Adonijah !” Joab and Abiathar were no despicable members of his party. The one was well known as the stern and victorious, though bloody, captain of the hosts of Israel. The other was equally well known, and greatly respected as the priest of God. Their adhesion seemed to command success. The prospect of Adonijah's accession to the throne was bright. When, however, they heard from the lips of Jonathan that the attempt had been frustratedthat “our lord, King David, hath made Solomon king "—they knew that hope was extinguished, and that they were in imminent peril. The tide turned, because the cause was ruined, and so they “rose up and went their way," and the pretender was left alone! He was abandoned by those who had sworn to support him-abandoned to his own devices—abandoned to provide for his own safety as his ingenuity directed !
If this was not treachery, we should like to know what it was. If it was not a mean, and contemptible, and purely selfish movement, we should like to know what designation you would apply to it. It sinks Joab-above all, it sinks Abiathar-low in our estimation. “All the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way." You sayWhat else could they have done? They might have shown themselves men. Since they had cast in their fortunes with Adonijah, and encouraged him, they ought to have remained true to him, and endeavoured to procure pardon from the king for him as well as for themselves. But they basely deserted him, and this action is a dark stain on their characters.
You know the story of Adonijah's scheme to obtain the throne of Israel instead of Solomon, his brother. It was not a hastily conceived and thoughtless plan in which the prince and his confederates engaged. He had long cherished the desire of grasping the sceptre, and he did not wait to see whom God would designate, and his father proclaim. He took advantage of David's weak and dependent condition. Though not more than seventy years old, the royal psalmist was enfeebled and infirm. Adonijah wrought secretly, and imagined that his treasonable practices would not be discovered. He was under the impression that the crown belonged to him by right. He was indeed the eldest son alive. Ammon, and Absalom, and Chileab were dead; and, judging by the law and the practice of surrounding nations, he thought he was entitled to receive it.
But some things he forgot in his calculations. He forgot to wait on God. He forgot to ask God's guidance in the way he should go. He forgot that Israel was a theocracy. He forgot the fact that Solomon had been already chosen,—“Behold a son shall be born unto thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about; his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I shall be his Father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever.” “And David commanded the princes to help Solomon, his son.”
It is almost impossible to believe that Adonijah did not know who was to succeed his father. Therefore his plot can be dedefended by no argument. Like Absalom, he sought to win the hearts of the people by his courtesy and affability; to attract them by the pomp of his establishment, and by the splendour of his retinue. And he had some of the advantages which Absalom possessed. He was “a goodly man"-handsome in his person, pleasant, if not beautiful, in his countenance. But he laboured under some of the disadvantages under which Absalom had laboured. He had never been properly trained at home, and had been left far too much to his own wayward will, with plenty of money, and no restraint.
Thus he fell ;--and many from the same cause, since his day, have been similarly deceived, and brought to early graves! Like all proud men, Adonijah was wilful and obstinate. He had set his heart on something he must get. He was determined to maintain his fancied rights, though really he had no rights at all. Do
you not find Adonijahs at the present day? Men there are who “imagine themselves something” when they are nothing; and, with an audacity which surprises, yet often succeeds, demand a recognition to which they have no claim. The modest and backward individual, who has a humble opinion of himself and his own merits, and may be far superior to those who outstrip him, is not always recognised and esteemed.
Adonijah was fond of show and pomp. He knew human nature well enough to know that self-confidence goes a great way, that appearance of wealth imposes on people; secures homage; and obtains respect. Was he singular ?
Do not some people still act on that knowledge ? And are they not, to a great extent, successful even as Adonijah?
You cannot but mark also Adonijah's want of filial affection. This sprang from his overweening pride and selfishness. He did all he could to hide his plans from his father. Instead of going frankly and asking him about the future,-consulting him and getting the true account of matters from him, opening his heart to him, and submitting to his decision, — he plotted secretly against him.
Have we not to deplore the prevalence of the same reticence in families now? The fault is often on both sides. On the one there is, perhaps, too little oversight and too little sympathy; on the other, there is a false independence which cannot but be strongly deprecated. Parents are sometimes too strict, and drive their children into an attitude of hostility. But this was not David's failing. Or they are too facile, and exercise no proper surveillance over conduct and companionship. This was David's failing. Now, whatever may be the cause, is it not the fact that, at the present day, there is a want of the old home-affection --the old family feeling which was wont to exist ?
You cannot fail to mark also in Adonijah-lack of godly four. He never seems to have invoked the blessing of the covenant God of Israel, to have. consulted Him, or asked His guidance. Shall I assert that he stands, in this respect, isolated and singular? Have not all who take an interest in the rising generation to deplore that there is too little " walking circumspectly,” asking “what wilt thou have me to do,” and praying, “be thou my Guide until death, and at death my portion throughout eternity ?”
If the conduct of this prince was wrong, -as we believe it was, —what shall we say of those who should have known better, been more loyal and wise—those who should have used their influence with him to bring him back to duty, and, if that failed, have left his side at once? They were older, more enlightened, and some of them were godly men. What are we to say of Joab, that veteran general, who, though he had quarrelled with the king, must have seen the rashness and recklessness of Adonijah's conduct? What shall we say of the High-Priest of Israel, who, of all men in the kingdom, ought to have been the first to denounce and to crush treason and rebellion ? Yet these two representative men lent themselves to the evil work. But the sound of the royal trumpets, and the shout of the
people at the coronation of Solomon, heard from Zion to Enrogel, were the knell of Adonijah's ambition. The attempted insurrection was doomed, the rebellion at once collapsed, and the king gained a bloodless victory. “All the guests that were with Adonijah were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way.” This speedy flight was very undignified. It was cowardly. It was selfish. But conscience had triumphed. “ Conscience makes cowards of us all.” Seek for that divine gift, a “conscience void of offence toward God and toward man.”
FIRST WORD OF WARNING—Beware of ambition.
When properly regulated, restrained, and guided, ambition serves a good end. It rouses to activity, and it tends to produce a generous and noble character. But when it is inspired only by selfishness, by the desire simply to attain to a certain position, so that vanity may be indulged and pride gratified—by the determination to outstrip your fellows and win certain prizes for which they too are toiling ;-when, in short, there is nothing but self to be consulted, and flattered, and appeased, it is dangerous. It may lead you to do much that is evil, to trample on that which is sacred, to break through and cast down the barriers which God's law has erected around you, to despise the nearest and dearest relationships of human life. What ruin has ambition, impelled by the desire only for personal gratification, wrought in the world! What tearful eyes, what broken hearts, what miserable homes, what sad graves it has made in its onward march! How completely has it changed many a young man, casting out of him all fine and benevolent feelings, petrifying his affections, isolating him from former friends and companions, turning him into a cold, calculating, cunning creature ! Under its baneful and withering influence he loses sight of the eternal in the temporal, ignores the spiritual in the carna), and forgets God in self!
There is no ban laid by God on advancement, or "getting on.” You are not forbidden to attain earthly honours, to acquire what are called the world's “good things.” But then, recollect, you must regard them only as subordinate to higher things. “Seek ye
first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” God does not say that money is bad, and to be spurned, but, by His apostle, He warns you that “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” If you reach a good position, or if you possess riches, you are bound to use the one and to spend the other as servants of Jesus Christ, to promote His glory, and to advance His cause. You are bound to remember your responsibility, to realise his presence,-to seek to please Him. You are bound to remember that you are born for eternity, and not for time. And if your aim in life is to live in dependence on His grace, for the benefit of your fellow-men, and for the glory of your God, you will undoubtedly enjoy the blessing “which maketh rich." Otherwise, though you succeed for a time, you cannot have peace and rest. “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and lo! he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.” Ever pray that He who, in His infinite wisdom and love, “ chooses our inheritance for us, may order your footsteps in the path of daily life, and your declaration will be, “My feet had well nigh slipped, but the Lord held me up." Beware of ambition, and think of Adonijah's fall.
SECOND WORD OF WARNING—Beware of disobedience to parents.
It may be an old, but it is a permanent command, “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” David, like Eli, did not train his children properly. He gave them too much of their own way; and did not keep them back with a firm enough hand from indulging in selfish and sinful gratifications. And what was the consequence ? His heart was grieved continually by their perverse and unnatural courses. No one, surely, can forget the bitter and most affecting cry that broke from David's lips, when he received the tidings of the death of rebellious Absalom, and went up in deep distress to the chamber over the gate—“O Absalom, my son, my son, Absalom, would God I had died for thee, 0 Absalom, my son!” It is quite true that godly instruction and example may not always prove efficacious. Many a Manasseh has come from a Hezekiah's home. But the responsibility lies not on such a parent, but on the child who casts to the wind counsel, and admonition, and warning !
What a splendid commendation was given regarding the patriarch,—“I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him.” At the same time, however indulgent, and perhaps negligent, your parents may be, you must pay them respect and honour.
Seest thou a man wise in his own