David's Charge To Solomon
At the time of our lesson David had grown old and would soon die. He had promised Bathsheba that their son, Solomon, would be the next king. But she became properly concerned over the activities of Adonijah, one of David's sons, who was engaged in a movement to become the next king himself. Having secured the support from Abiathar, the priest, and Joab, captain of David's army, Adonijah was already making plans for a coronation feast and had invited many guests.
When David was informed of this, even though confined to his bed, he quickly called Zadok, another priest, Nathan, the prophet, and Benaiah, captain of his bodyguards and the Jerusalem police, and gave them instructions concerning Solomon. They were to put Solomon on the king's mule, take him through the streets declaring him as David's choice to be the next king. When the people saw what was done they rallied behind Solomon and shouted, "Long live king Solomon.”
This abruptly concluded the celebration Adonijah had planned and rather than becoming king he sought for mercy from Solomon, which he received temporarily.
Because Solomon was proclaimed king so hurriedly there was no time for a genuine celebration and ceremony. So David instructed a more formal assembly and it was at that time he gave certain solemn charges to the new king, his son. Present were all the princes of Israel, the captians of the companies, the rulers who had superintendence of the affairs of state, and all the mighty men of the nation. It was an occasion when anybody that was anybody in government was invited and present.
David stood to speak even though it was difficult for him. He called for one and all to give allegiance unto God, and also unto Solomon as the incoming king. The purpose of the gathering was to secure for Solomon support from all of those who had been loyal to David. In this action we see the wisdom of David, knowing as he did that one cannot effectively lead if he cannot depend on his followers. Many leaders, even good leaders, have failed because of a rebellious spirit on the part of those who are supposed to be followers.
Sacrifices were offered and a great coronation feast followed this. Solomon was hailed as the new king and anointed the second time.
Following this array of pomp and ceremony, impressive as it was, David spoke a few words. They can be divided into two parts. He had some things to say about himself, recalling his past and an old man might be excused for doing this. There was far more of his life in the past than in his earthly future. Then he turned his attention to Solomon personally and offered him sage counsel. The scriptures that recorded these remarks are in First Chronicles 28:1-10. Because of the length of this passage the reader is urged to take his Bible and become acquainted with the reading before continuing with our remarks.
Some great things can be learned from David's recollections of the past. He mentioned his intentions to have built a house for the Lord. It was to have been a place to house the ark of covenant the and where Jehovah would make His presence known in special manners. It was to be a most expensive and elaborately decorated edifice, richly done in every respect. Yet, David called this planned building nothing more than a footstool for the Lord. Does this not indicate the genuine humility of David and his appreciation for the greatness of God? He did not propose to build a throne for the Lord, but only a footstool, which was all he could do.
David consulted Nathan about building this house and Nathan had advised him to proceed with his plans. But this was before either David or Nathan had consulted the Lord about it. God later told Nathan, and he in turn told David, that David was not to erect such a structure because he had been a man of war and blood.
I think we have a great lesson before us how a person with honest and sincere motives can be presumptuous when they embark on something without the Lord's approval and authority. We cannot just assume that whatever we do will please God. We must inquire of His will before we draw such conclusions. God did tell David that his son would build the house David proposed and David spent much energy gathering materials that would later be used. This episode of David's life also tells us more about the heart of David. Doubtless he was disappointed that God had not approved what he wanted to do. But just because David did not get his way he did not turn against God. Rather than doing nothing, and pouting about it, he busied himself with additional preparations for that which would come after him.
David also recalled how God had selected him to be king. This stirs our memory to Samuel's visit to the house of Jesse many years earlier and when all the sons of Jesse came before Samuel. But none that were there were chosen and they waited until David was brought from the fields where he had been attending the herds. Samuel anointed him. Samuel was told at that time that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart, and God approved the heart of David.
David recounted all these things for a good reason. He was laying the groundwork and background to show how God had also selected Solomon just as He had selected David. The king, whoever he was to be, would sit on the throne of the Lord. Therefore, whoever the king was to be was obligated first and foremost to Jehovah God. His allegiance was first to God and then to the people he ruled. Is not that the way it should be for every national leader?
Not only had God chosen Solomon, but the Lord had promised to establish his kingdom forever. But this promise was a conditional one. "If he be constant to do my commandments and mine ordinances as at this day...”(verse 7). The inescapable implication is that at that moment of his life Solomon was walking the way Jehovah would have him go. We can only wish that it had remained that way with Solomon. But the story of Solomon is somewhat akin to that of King Saul who had a glorious beginning but who later turned from the way of the Lord and brought discredit upon himself and the people he led. Solomon, by marrying women from the pagan and heathen nations, compromised his faith and allowed idols to be erected and served them.
Notice that Solomon and the people were to “observe and seek out all the commandments.” Some people then, like now, observe what they like and ignore what does not suit them. Someway they have convinced themselves that they are not obligated to comply with all of the commandments of God and embark upon a course of selectivity, following some and omitting others. But the Lord wanted them not only to observe His commandments, but also seek them out, being sure they were doing as commanded. He expects no less of people today. This is the reason for diligent study that we might know. We are responsible for both knowledge and application.
Finally, David turns to Solomon to with admonitions that would be fitting for every parent to give every child. His admonition can be outlined in three parts.
First, "Know thou the God of thy father.” This, of course, referred to Jehovah God. Solomon should not be satisfied with just a passing acquaintance and warm feelings toward God and the knowledge that God existed. He was to have a close association with God. As John wrote in the New Testament First John 2:3, "And hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments.” This is the kind of knowledge of God that we all must have and it cannot be ours without obedience. To know God demands that we obey God.
Second, "Serve him with a perfect heart.” This demands a complete submission and willingness voluntarily offered. It calls for such a mind. Acceptable service to God must come from the heart. To proceed through various forms of service without it being voluntary and willingly given is to attempt to serve God but without the purity of motive.
Perfect does not mean sinless perfection, which is impossible. But it means the heart is completely surrendered to the way of the Lord without reservation. God will know if one serves Him with all the heart or not because God knows the heart. Our fruits also reveal the heart. Jesus once taught that we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Third, "If thou seek him, he will be found of thee. But if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.” The decision whether God and Solomon would remain as close as they were at that moment rested with Solomon. It was strictly up to him. God would cleave to Solomon as long as Solomon would honor and respect God and as long as Solomon wanted God to remain with him, and he showed this desire by the manner of life he lived. But if Solomon wished he could separate himself from God. This is the way God has always dealt with everybody, even now. He does not force Himself upon us, but is willing to abide with those who are willing to abide with Him. Each of us must make the personal choice.
Word Of Warning
Having said all these things, David closed with a warning in verse 10. “Take heed now, for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.” Here was the word of caution. “Take heed.” He would have to be strong to be the king he needed to be and to build the house David had proposed. Added to this charge, as recorded in First Kings 2:2, were the words, "And show thyself a man.” Real manhood required maturity, knowing God through obedience to God, serving God with all of his heart, remaining faithful to God and being alert and attentive to every duty.
As we study the career and life of Solomon we are impressed how for many years he gave heed to these well-chosen words of admonition from his father. It seems he later ignored them and went the way of disgrace and spiritual failure. Whether he died in such a state we cannot know for certain. But David's words should ring loud in our own ears because we all have been charged by the Lord to know God, serve God, and take heed. Our promises are also conditional upon our obedience to God.
As Solomon was given the sacred task of erecting God's temple, those who are Christians have a similar task in up building His spiritual temple, which is the church.
We see that Solomon began well but later faltered. We must be alert and not allow such as those overtake us. It remains with you and me to determine how it will be with us. May God's will be so respected by each of us that we shall discharge our duties to God's approval.
David, Solomon's parent, gave his son good advice and counsel. Can a parent do more? Should we not teach our young by word and deed to “show thyself a man,” meaning a person of spiritual quality? What higher and nobler goal for life could we present to our children?