From 1 Kings 1-2
David is old and nearing his death. The LORD has blessed him well and now Solomon his son will rule as King in his place. Today’s passage describes the parting instructions from David to Solomon.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
2 When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Ki 2.1-4)
David’s first instructions concern how Solomon is to live. If he does this he will prosper and so will his kingdom. The righteousness of the king will cause his kingdom to prosper. And vice versa. The sins of the king will be to the detriment of his kingdom.
Israel needs a good and righteous king.
With the exception of the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah which was forgiven and blotted out, David kept the law (1 Ki 3.6,14; 9.3-5; 11.1-6,30-39; 14.8; 2 Ki 23.25). David is held up by the author of Kings as the standard and all the kings following him are compared against him.
The LORD made promises to David (2 Sam 7.11-16). This will be confirmed to Solomon soon afterwards (1 Ki 9:5), and repeated with reference to its spiritual meaning in Jeremiah (Je 33:17).
David now turns his attention to others.
5 “Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war on the belt around his waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. (1 Ki 2.5-6)
For a while Joab served David well. They have had a lot of good history together. But he was dishonourable and vicious. He murdered Abner (2 Sam 3.27) and Amasa (2 Sam 20.8) in ‘time of peace’ for the blood they ‘shed in war’. Neither of these incidents reflected well upon David.
David punishes those against him.
7 But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyalty they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. (1 Ki 2.7)
David blesses those who have treated him well.
8 And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.” (1 Ki 2.8-9)
David promised he would not kill Shimei for his curses. But he is like an elephant. He doesn’t forget. That only delayed the punishment. David instructs Solomon to ‘bring his grey head down with blood to Sheol’ after he dies.
10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. 11 And the time that David reigned over Israel was forty years. He reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established. (1 Ki 2.10-12)
David does and the length of his reign is summarised. Solomon is now king over the kingdom. ‘His kingdom was firmly established’ in part is a reflection of these last commands of David. For a time he walked in the ways of the LORD. He punished and killed David’s enemies. He blessed those who treated David well.
Story of Israel
In the last words of David to Solomon, it is not so much the father speaking to his son, as the king of Israel, the head of the theocratic kingdom, to his successor upon the throne. From this standpoint we must view alike the general and the special portions of the whole discourse.
The calling of a king of Israel consisted especially in this: to preserve the “kingdom of Jehovah” (1 Chr. 28:5; 29:23); to be not the representative, but the servant of Jehovah, the true and proper king, also to observe “all the words of the Law, and all the ordinances of Jehovah” (Deut. 17:14–20); but, before all, that supreme and chief command, Exod. 20:3–6, to observe completely the covenant which Jehovah had made with His chosen people.
With this high calling David’s soul was completely filled; and as he had continually “done what was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and had not turned aside from anything that had been enjoined upon him all his life long” (1 Kings 15:5), so, also, in the last moments of his life, it was his greatest solicitude that his successor upon the throne should stand upon “the charge of Jehovah” (ver. 3), i.e., should take care that the law of Moses, with all its particular prescripts, in their entire circumference, should be maintained.
This he earnestly and solemnly sets forth as the foundation of a prosperous and blessed reign, and as the condition of the fulfilment of the promise made to him in respect of the continuance of his “house” (2 Sam. 7.).
So David appears here, yet once more, in his grand historical significance, namely, as the type of a theocratic king, by which the conduct of all subsequent kings is measured (1 Ki 3:3, 6, 14; 9:4; 10:4–6; 11:33–38; 14:8; 15:5–11; 2 Ki 14:3; 16:2; 18:3; 22:2).
The throne of David is Israel’s model throne; no king of Israel has left behind him such a testament as David here. (Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Bähr, K. C. W. F., Harwood, E., & Sumner, B. A. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 Kings (p. 31). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)
Story of Jesus
The final words of David remind me of the parting instructions Jesus gave to his disciples. Jesus was crucified and on the third day was raised to life as King. Now he will reign forever. He ascended into heaven, but before he did he gave these instructions.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and
make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:16–20)
We do not stand before a dying king, listening to his final instructions. Rather our king is still with us. He commands us to go and tell everyone about him. To share the gospel. To make disciples where people will listen. To baptise and teach them in his name.
In this way will his kingdom be established.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.