We now come face to face with the final years of David, King of Israel. His life has been an open book before us, teaching us many important lessons along the way. His final years are recorded in the beginning of I Kings and the ending of I Chronicles.
I Kings opens with this verse: When King David was old and well advanced in years… One of the most biblically documented life is facing the inevitable. The rest of this verse says, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. (I Kings 1:1)
Our minds revert to the young man who killed a lion and a bear; a young man who slew Goliath with one small stone and saved Israel from captivity; the one who had conquered nations and wrote magnificent words of praise to the God of Israel. It is jarring to consider him now as old and frail, particularly since he was facing death at a much younger age than many of the other biblical patriarchs. David was just 70 years old.
How much activity, how much experience, how much faith and how much worship he had packed into those 70 years! He had known amazing success as well as abject failure and if there is anyone who understood our modern plague of stress, surely it was David. Most of his life had been lived in what we might describe as a roller coaster of highs and lows but the important issue is that David met God at every one of those moments. His psalms prove it. Now he is weak and chilled, struggling to stay warm.
Enter David’s fourth son, Adonijah. Like his half-brother, Absalom, Adonijah took advantage of his father’s failing health and declared himself king. He was the oldest surviving son so it was logical to expect that he would inherit the throne: inherit, not seize it!
Though we haven’t heard from Samuel for many years, the prophet suddenly re-appears. Joining Bathsheba, Samuel approaches the king to disclose the insolence of Adonijah for it was Solomon whom God had appointed to be the next king, not Adonijah.
Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggit, has become king without our lord David’s knowing it? Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son, Solomon.’ I Kings 1: 11-12
The prophet sent her to her husband.
Bathsheba bowed low and knelt before the King. ‘What is it you want?’ the king asked. She said to him, ‘My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the LORD your God: Solomn your son shall be king after me and he will sit on my throne. But now Adonijah has become king and you, my lord the king, do not know about it.’ I Kings 1:16-18
Nathan then approached the king, testifying to the truth of what Bathsheba had said. David then confirmed his promise that Solomon was to be his successor and with an oath addressed his wife and the mother of his son, Solomon:
The king then took an oath: ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel. Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place. I Kings 1 29-30
David, chilled by his impending death, revived and assumed control to perform the will of God. He was still the king! And his devotion to God’s will being done had not wavered. When Bathsheba called on him for something only he could do, the need of the moment exerted enough life back into his soul that he rose from his bed and formulated a plan to ensure that Solomon would sit on the throne.
King David said, ‘Call in Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.’ When they came before the king he said to them: ‘Take your lord’s servants with you and set Solomon my son on my own mule and take him down to Gihon. There have Zakod the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ They you are to go up with him and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.’ I Kings 1: 32-35
They did exactly what they were told and Solomon was enthroned as King. He may not have been the ‘logical’ choice for he was not the oldest living son. However, Solomon stands forever as a testimony to God’s divine mercy, the very embodiment of the God of second chances. He was the innocent one whose conception was shrouded with guilt. He – and not Adonijah – was God’s choice.
Our God is a God of mercy and forgiveness; He is a God of love. Contrary to the notions of some, He is not an angry, vengeful God. His love is eternal, overwhelming and boundless. Solomon’s reign is one of many testimonies to that truth.
When the news was carried back to David that Solomon had been crowned, ‘the king bowed in worship on his bed and said ‘Praise be to the LORD.’ I Kings 1:47-48
This is the very last verse when the word ‘king’ is used in the Bible with reference to David. It is stunning to notice that David’s reign ended the way it began: the praise and worship. On that earlier day, he danced with all his might before the LORD. On this last day, he bowed on his bed and worshipped. Despite all of his ups and downs, his failures and his mistakes, there is one great consistency throughout the life of David: he was a man of worship and therefore, he was a man after God’s own heart.
His final piece of advice to the new king, his son, Solomon reflects the core motivation of his entire life: ‘Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God.’ I Chronicles 22:19
That advice is the closing lesson to each of us regarding the life of David. It was spoken to Solomon but as it is quoted in the Scriptures, which are written to all of us, may it be the greatest lesson we all take away from this study of David over the last several months.
Now, my dear readers, devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Selah!
We have completed our study of the life of David.
We will begin a new study on the first Tuesday of May.
May the Lord bless you and fill your heart with His presence and His peace.