King David’s Last Days
Open Your Bible
1 Kings 1:1-53, 1 Kings 2:1-46, 2 Samuel 7:12-13
By whatever stroke of chance or luck (or the-opposite-of-luck), I’ve never had to follow in anyone’s footsteps when starting a new job. I’ve always stepped into an unformed role and had the joy (and challenge) of shaping it to fit the opportunities before me.
But a few months ago, that changed. I took a job that someone had held previously, and the awkwardness of learning to walk in your own shoes on someone else’s tightrope has required more grace and patience than I ever could have expected. It’s like constantly looking in a mirror but the reflection isn’t you. I feel like I’m tipping over all the sacred cows, even as I try to tread lightly while I also prove myself. It’s a mess of idols and pride, and it’s hard.
David was the king. He was King David, a man after God’s own heart. He was King David, who brought the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. He was David, to whom God promised a descendant on his throne forever. The shepherd boy who became king, David was the standard against whom all other kings of Israel would be judged. Taking his place would have been daunting, but it would also lead to unprecedented power.
When David was on his deathbed, two men believed they held claim to his throne: Adonijah and Solomon. Both wanted to step into his shoes, lead his people, and claim his fame. Adonijah was David’s oldest surviving son, but David had promised Bathsheba that their son Solomon would be the next king (1 Kings 1:13). Chaos ensued, with back-room conversations and an attempted coup. But David, when told that “the eyes of all Israel are on you to tell them who will sit on the throne” (v.20), affirmed that Solomon was his choice.
Chapter 2 opens with David’s charge to Solomon. It is full of encouragement to “be strong and be a man” (v.2), and admonishes the soon-to-be king to walk in God’s “ways [and] keep his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees” (v.3). David then reminds his son of the covenant promise God made to him: “If your sons guard their way to walk faithfully before me with all their heart and all their soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel” (v.4).
Our privilege as those who hold the entire canon of the Bible is that we know how this story goes: Solomon didn’t always follow the Lord and His ways. His father David didn’t. Nor did the rest of Israel and Judah’s other kings.
But despite the failures of humankind, our God reigns. In Israel’s time of transition, God reigned. In every second before and every second after, God reigned, is reigning, and will reign forever. While our earthly leaders matter, our ultimate allegiance is to God’s Kingdom and to the perfect King of kings, Jesus. It means we can live lightly but intentionally, resting in the holy, sovereign kingship of the One who will make everything new as we advocate for His Kingdom to grow on earth here and now.