David’s Legacy – Solomon’s Wisdom
Today’s Text: 1 Kings 3:4-28
LIFE OF SOLOMON
David’s legacy did not end with Zadok’s anointing of Solomon at Gihon Spring. When Adonijah’s insurrection came to his attention, David acted decisively to ensure the succession of God’s chosen heir to the throne (1 Ki. 1:32-40).
Unfortunately, a majority of Bible teachers give the impression that David was bedridden and uninvolved in the affairs of the kingdom by this time. Artistic depictions reinforce traditional teaching that often insinuates David’s spiritual life was locked in a downward spiral after his indiscretion with Bathsheba. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The history in the first book of Chronicles presents a much different scenario. The full record of Solomon’s coronation documents David’s coordinated efforts preparing for the transfer of leadership. The biblical record does not describe a king suffering spiritual or mental decline.
Examine the zenith of David’s reign.
David’s organizational skill, passion for the Lord and preparation for construction of the temple in Jerusalem continued unabated until the end of his reign. Some staggering facts emerge in the record that are missed without the context of Scripture (1 Chr. 23-27). Familiarize yourself with the facts by using the hyperlink.
David’s exploits prior to Solomon’s accession to the throne include the organization of 38,000 eligible priests for associated temple worship (24:2-32). The sheer number of men consecrated for service highlights the wisdom of David’s foresight in preparation for the temple.
Among the eligible, 24,000 were assigned to facilitate temple sacrifices and offerings; 6,000 served as officers and judges; 4,000 were gatekeepers and 4,000 worship leaders praised the Lord using instruments that David designed and crafted (23:5). Like those in temple service, the military was also registered by clan and with 24,000 serving on a monthly rotation. (27:1).
When we allow the Scriptures to speak, a far different picture of David than generally portrayed comes into focus. David is a true hero and the original Renaissance Man with expertise in a broad range of interests—shepherd, musician, poet, warrior, passionate leader and faithful monarch. From a comparative study of 2 Chronicles 23 – 29 and 1 Kings 1 – 2, the following inferences seem plausible.
- David’s organizational skills created unity and structure in Israel.
- David invested significant time and resources to ensure Solomon’s success.
- David’s plans to transfer the leadership to Solomon at a predetermined time were accelerated by Adonijah’s insurrection.
- David sized-up the situation and coordinated a magnificent coronation event in less than 24 hours.
Consider the inauguration of Solomon’s reign.
After the public anointing at Gihon Spring by Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet, the rejoicing procession followed Solomon to David’s palace where the new king took his rightful place on the throne. The record in 1 Chronicles 28-29 details how the day unfolded.
David stood and addressed the people along with the assembled leadership. In his charge to the nation, David underscored God’s choice of Solomon and then challenged his son to follow the Lord (28:1-10).
During the coronation proceedings, David transferred the plans for the temple to Solomon along with an accounting of all the provisions he had already assembled for the building project (vv. 11-19).
“Then David said to Shlomo his son, ‘Be strong, be bold, and do it! Don’t be afraid or become discouraged! For Adonai, God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or abandon you until all the work for the service in the house of Adonai has been finished.
See, there are the divisions of the Cohanim and L’vi’im for all the service in the house of God. For every kind of work, you will have with you every man who is willing and skilled, for every kind of service. Also the captains and all the people will be completely at your disposal.’” (28:20-21, CJB).
Solomon’s coronation concluded with a psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord that David penned expressly for the occasion (29:10-19). On the following day amid celebration, David offered sacrifices of thanksgiving numbering in the thousands (29:21).
An astounding collection of gifts initiated by David’s example were donated by Israel’s leaders for the construction of the temple (vv. 3-8). The Bible notes that David personally donated 99 tons of Ophir gold and 231 tons of refined silver to the project for the construction of the Temple of Jehovah. An exuberant throng surrounded Solomon as he was anointed king a second time (v. 22).
King David figured prominently in the regalia of the coronation ceremony by leading the assembled community in corporate worship.
“Then David said to all the assembly, ‘Now bless the Lord your God.’ So all the assembly blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the Lord and the king” (v. 20). (1)
Scripture does not inform how long David lived after Solomon’s coronation. Notes in The Jewish Study Bible suggest that father and son ruled as co-regents until David’s death. We do know, however, that the affairs of the kingdom were left in order and in readiness for transition to Solomon’s reign from 971 to 931 BC.
“So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David. The period that David reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron, and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty-three years” (1 Ki. 2:10-11).
Those traveling to Israel have undoubtedly seen the traditional tomb along with the pilfered family tombs south of King David’s palace.
The parallel passage reveals,
“Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders and the mighty men, and also all the sons of King David, submitted themselves to King Solomon. So the Lord exalted Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed on him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel” (1 Chr. 29:23-25).
Shortly after David’s death, the Bible records Solomon traveled to sacrifice at the Tabernacle site. Solomon’s journey to Gibeon some seven miles northwest of Jerusalem was not a private event.
“Then Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon” (2 Chr. 1:3). (2)
The worship apparently lasted several days with Solomon offering a thousand sacrifices. In what seems to be God’s response to the multitude of sacrifices, the Lord said to Solomon in a dream, “Ask! What shall I give you?” (1 Ki. 3:5). Solomon’s answer to the Lord within the context of the lucid dream is not only enlightening, but also crucial to our understanding of the dialogue.
“Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”(3:9).
Solomon began by highlighting his succession to the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16). It was God who promised David a perpetual dynasty, an everlasting kingdom and an eternal throne (2 Sam. 7:13-16). God chose Solomon as David’s successor—the next in the familial line of Messiah. Solomon’s statement demonstrated profound gratitude for all God had done in fulfilling the covenant made with his father.
God had already pledged to establish his kingdom; and, in genuine humility Solomon confided to the Lord, “but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in” (1 Ki. 3:7). The phrase “to go out or come in” is taken from God’s appointment of Joshua to lead the people (Nu. 27:15). The phrase refers to administration, decorum and leadership in shepherding the nation of Israel. Solomon was simply acknowledging his inexperience (1 Chr. 22:5; 29:1).
Basing his request on what God had already promised, Solomon asked for wisdom in jurisprudence (1 Ki. 3:9). The words understanding heart are literally translated “a hearing heart” attuned to God’s Word. The words “hear” and “obey” have the same Hebrew root, shema. An obedient heart is a hearing heart; a hearing heart is an obedient heart. Solomon acknowledged that successful leadership of Israel required wisdom only God could give.
God was pleased. Solomon’s request demonstrated humility rather than self-aggrandizement, a willingness to submit to God’s authority versus selfish ambition. God granted Solomon’s request.
Solomon would indeed be wise, not just wiser than his predecessor, but the wisest king on the earth (v. 12; 4:29-31). In addition, God granted Solomon riches and honor to the extent that no king would equal him during his lifetime” (3:13). In all that God promised there was only one condition:
“So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days” (v. 14). (3)
Thankful for God’s promises, Solomon and his court returned with joy to Jerusalem where he offered more sacrifices before the Ark of the Covenant and hosted a feast (v. 15). God rewarded Solomon with the judicial wisdom he solicited, but also included unprecedented wealth and fame—two things men crave, but rarely attain.
Recognize David’s and Solomon’s example in pursuing God’s will for your life.
David’s life provides a biblical model for pursuing God’s will. Imagine you’re sitting with King David sitting in the privacy of the family quarters of the royal palace with his sons gathered around him. He’s sharing a psalm about an incident when he feigned madness in the enemy camp of Gath (1 Sam. 21).
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.”
While David’s resourcefulness created the opportunity for escape, he acknowledged that the Lord saw his predicament and answered his cry for help (1 Sam. 21:10-15).
Now compare the words of Solomon in the book of Proverbs:
“The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.”
That Solomon assimilated his father’s instruction into the fiber of his life is obvious. Solomon’s dream demonstrates his desire to wholeheartedly pursue God’s will.
We live in an era where self-promotion and aggrandizement are considered virtues. In contrast, David and Solomon are true heroes who demonstrate character, humility and a desire to please God. Those three attributes are at the heart of discovering and pursuing God’s will for anyone at any point in history.
Several observations about David’s and Solomon’s lives are worth noting.
- David’s and Solomon’s life circumstances were unique.
- David’s advanced age and Solomon’s youth were not an impediment to fulfilling their God-ordained destiny.
- Both father and son demonstrated an intense desire to do God’s will.
- Both recognized their limitations and had a history of seeking God and His counsel.
Take a moment to reflect on David’s and Solomon’s vastly different upbringing. You’ve likely heard David characterized as a crude or worse yet, simple shepherd. It’s a fact that his own father tried to deprive David of the festivities that Samuel had pre-arranged in search of Saul’s replacement. On that day, David—who had been hardened to the rigors of life from a tender age—was propelled into his destiny. He was a strategist and warrior, though much loved by the people of his kingdom and revered throughout the nations.
Solomon, on-the-other-hand, grew up in the splendor of the royal residence with his succession to the throne widely known. The two attempts to subvert his rightful place as heir to the Davidic Dynasty were averted by others without his help. Young Solomon played no part in gaining the throne other than stepping into his role as king of Israel. His wisdom, wealth and fame were world-renowned.
What’s the take away for Christians today?
Neither age nor circumstances impede your ability to fulfill your God-ordained destiny. Once you realize that God’s will is within reach, follow through with two actions David and Solomon modeled.
- First, demonstrate your desire to wholeheartedly pursue God’s will and serve the Lord by living according to the precepts in His Word.
- Second, recognize your limitations as a finite human being—not as an excuse—but to humbly seek the God of creation and His infinite counsel.
David maintained his spiritual passion and integrity to the very end of his reign and passed a profound legacy to his son, Solomon.
1) As you read 1 Chronicles 29:20, what stands out about the people’s response to David’s call to bless the Lord? How did the people honor and respect the Lord? What does their response mean to us today?
2) Since the Ark of the Covenant had not been housed within the Tabernacle for more than 100 years, God permitted other localized worship centers throughout Israel. The Tabernacle containing the original objects of worship—including the altar created by Bezalel—remained the primary location or “high place” for sacrifice (Ex. 31:2; 1 Samuel 7:11; 1 Chr. 1:5-6).
3) If Solomon faithfully adhered to the will of God and obeyed the Law of Moses, God would extend his life. There is no way of knowing how Solomon’s life would have been prolonged had he heeded God’s statutes and commandments.
1) King David presenting the scepter to Solomon (circa 1601-1651). (By Cornelis de Vos/[Public domain] /Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
2) King David playing the harp. (By workshop of Peter Paul Rubens/[Public domain}/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
3) Detail: King David in Prayer (circa 1635-1640). (By Pieter de Grebber [Public domain]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
4) King Solomon. (By Kristian Zahrtmann/[Public domain]/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)3) 5)Tomb of King David on Mount Zion, Jerusalem. (Photo credit: By Berthold Werner [Public domain]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
6) The Dream of Solomon (c. 1693). (By Luca Giordano [Public domain]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
7) Fulfill Your Destiny. (Quote by Charles E. McCracken) (Background photo used for illustrative purposes, Pixabay/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken authentically communicates biblical truth making his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.