David and Solomon

David and Solomon

David had many sons but it was Solomon that he (and God) chose to succeed him as king.

We read toward the end of David’s life: “Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself” 1Kings 2:1-3

There is a lot in the Bible about Solomon as well as the three books he wrote, some of which has been discussed in my “Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – Meditations from Solomon’s three books” but most of that was after David’s death. As far as the books of Samuel and Kings goes, the only reference to Solomon besides when David was about to die was his birth to Bathsheba following not long after the death of their first son who was conceived in their adulterous affair.

The drama at the end was when another of David’s sons, Adonijah (Absolam’s younger brother), sought to become king instead of Solomon, including instigating a coup. We read “And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him. But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah” 1Kings 1:7,8. It was the quick action of Bathsheba, supported by Zadok, Nathan and Shimei that instigated a counter coup and thus ensure Solomon was crowned as king to follow David. Shortly before he died, David gave Solomon a number instructions, including the need to faithfully follow God and build the Temple – all of which Solomon carried out, at least in his early years, enjoying God’s blessing, although tragically Solomon turned from God in his later years and thus began the downward spiral with a few bright interludes that led to Israel and Judah being taken into captivity and never regaining its greatness under David.

A lot more is said concerning David’s relationship with Solomon, before he was on his death bed:

And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God:  But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever. Now, my son, the Lord be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the Lord thy God, as he hath said of thee. Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed” 1 Chronicles 22:5-13,

And further concerning the Temple and pertinently how Solomon was to conduct himself concerning his relationship with God:

Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit the Lord God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be the ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel: And of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day. Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the Lord, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the Lord your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever. And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it. Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat, And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things” 1 Chronicles 28:2-12.

The good thing about David was he did what he could to enable Solomon’s great project, the building of the Temple to replace the Tabernacle as the central place of Israel’s worship of YHWH, and passing onto him sage advice on how to proceed with this and other aspects of his kingship. The bad thing is he was not a particularly good father and husband too (if I were Solomon, I would not be impressed by his father’s treatment of his mother, Bathsheba). While we cannot over speculate what those consequences were, the demise of Solomon in later life and, following his death, the kingdom over which he and David had reigned. This was largely brought about by Solomon marrying foreign women, who brought with them their foreign gods, and one might surmise this part down to him taking a wrong leaf out his father’s book.

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