Many of you have been in a situation where you’ve heard the last words of a friend or a loved one who was dying. A dying person’s final words are significant. These words may include final instructions or a final goodbye. Leaders typically give advice to their successors, and the words in 1 Kings 2:1-4,10-12 are no exception. King David’s death marked the end of a momentous 40-year reign in Israel’s history, but the line of David would continue on Israel’s throne, eventually culminating in the birth of the Messiah.
The problems that followed King David’s house following the taking of Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah followed him to his deathbed. David’s son Adonijah was next in line to the throne, but some of David’s generals and supporters were opposed to Adonijah’s succession. They supported Solomon. Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan persuaded David to declare Solomon king.
David’s final words to Solomon were an interesting mix. On the one hand, David charged Solomon to remain faithful to the Lord and the covenant between the Lord and David’s house, and on the other hand David told Solomon to take revenge on those who were not loyal to David. Even on his deathbed, David was a complex combination of faithful servant and ruthless avenger. Solomon proved to be a good example of the old saying, “like father, like son.”
David’s final instructions included punishing his enemies, rewarding the loyalty of someone who helped him years ago, and keeping God’s law. David’s charge consisted of instructions on being God’s man and securing the kingdom. The order is important; securing the kingdom without being a man of God would render the order useless. Christian men should always be men and women of “the Book”-ones who do not just read the Word but live it.
David chose his last words well. He wanted to pass on the most important advice he could. He wanted Solomon to be a godly king. He wanted Solomon to avoid the mistakes he made. Everyone wants a better life for their children than they had. The greatest inheritance we can give to our children is to live a godly life in front of them-something that King David failed to do at times. David’s life is a good example of the fact that it’s never too late to change and make our lives and the lives of those around us better. Unfortunately, many of us stay in negative patterns or behaviour because we think it’s too late for us to change.
David’s instructions to live a godly life are wise and crucial instructions for us to follow today. A father’s influence over his son’s life is invaluable. He shapes the life of this young man as he teaches the young man how to be a godly man. Fathers must pour wisdom into their sons. That wisdom can only be gained by walking with God.
David declared that Solomon’s obedience to the laws of Moses was a necessary condition for the fulfillment of the divine promise. The rest of the Book of 1 Kings states that none of David’s descendants remained faithful to God’s law-not even Solomon. Nevertheless, Solomon’s succession enjoyed God’s approval. Solomon experienced challenged authority, prosperity and renown.
Solomon failed to keep God’s law. He started out well, but as he got older he strayed from God’s law. He had 700 wives and 300 mistresses, but God’s law stated that marriage was to be between one man and one woman. Adultery was prohibited. The latter part of Solomon’s reign is a good example of the old saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” His wives caused him to have a divided heart. Solomon allowed the Israelites to worship other gods. God punished Solomon by causing division between his son Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Jeroboam’s reign also depended on his obedience to God, as mentioned in 1 Kings 11:38.
What lies behind and below the words about David’s death and Solomon’s love of God are cruel actions on behalf of both men. These actions can’t be glossed over and forgotten if we are to take the full meaning of their lives into account.
Solomon’s story has two parts-the good and the bad, the noble and the shameful. The good thing about the Bible is that it refuses to distort reality in such an unhelpful way. Solomon is a human being, and like all human beings there are two sides to him. He was blessed with wisdom and cursed with foolishness. He was devoted to God and attracted to idols. He was committed to his intellect and shackled to his appetites. We can’t dismiss Solomon. His story is familiar, because it is too much like our own.
In spite of everything that has happened in Solomon’s life, we know that God continues to work with His people. In spite of our weaknesses and mistakes, the call for loyalty to God and the need for genuine divine wisdom the demand to obey God’s laws and follow His ways never ceases. We see the full nature of God’s grace even as we are aware of our human weaknesses. We understand that faithfulness and loyalty to God are the very key to life itself.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New Kings James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p. 443)
- Dilday, R. & Ogilvie, L.J,: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 9: 1,2, Kings (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1987; pp. 44-46)
- MacArthur, J.F. Hr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- “Keep the Change.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rev. David Mainse, “Successor.” Retrieved from Christianity.email@example.com
- “Never Too Late.” Retrieved form Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Raul Ries, “Prove Yourself a Man.” Retrieved form http://somebodylovesyouradio.org
- Debie Thomas, “A King’s Tale.” Retrieved from www.journeywithjesus.net/essays/324-a-king-s-tale
- John Holbert, “Avoiding the Truth: Reflections on 1 Kings 2:10-12,3:3-14.” Retrieved from www.patheos.com/progessive-christian/avoiding-the-truth-john-c-holbert
- Howard Wallace, “1 Kings 2:10-12,3:3-14.” Retrieved from http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/WebOTcomments/OrdinaryB/Pentecost11.html