Saturday, April 7, 2012

1 Kings 2

1 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.
2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, 3 and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go 4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
5 “Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. 6 Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace.
7 “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.
8 “And remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ 9 But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.”
10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11 He had reigned forty years over Israel—seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.

Points of Interest
  • ‘the way of all the earth’--despite Bathsheba’s kind wishes in yesterday’s passage, David will not live forever. In this regard, he’s just like everyone else. He lived life on a grander scale than most, but he’s not actually larger-than-life.
  • ‘do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace’--it’s a tad disappointing that practically David’s final act is to order a string of executions. It’s chilling, like that scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone has all of his father’s old enemies killed at the very same time he’s standing as godfather to his nephew. I think it has to be done, though. Even David could not quite control Shimei or, even more, Joab. There’s no way Solomon could be safely established with those two running amok. David himself probably should have taken care of them long ago. Since he didn’t, Solomon must, to start his reign with a clean slate and a free hand.
  • ‘show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead’--there’s also someone David didn’t quite have the chance to reward properly during his own lifetime. At least it’s not just killings David is leaving to Solomon.
  • ‘Then David rested with his ancestors’--I like that David’s death is described as ‘resting.’ David has had a long and busy life. In one way or another, he’s been on the move since he was a teenager. It’s about time he got some rest.
Taking it Home
  • For you: It’s hard to know what to make of David’s death-wish list that he gives to Solomon. It would have been so much nicer to get to the end of David’s life and find pretty picture of happily-ever after, but even to the very end everything is not so neatly wrapped up. David has somehow learned to navigate the tides of life’s complications and still find God in the midst of problems not being entirely solved. How do you respond to the messiness of life? What are some problems you are facing that just don’t seem to be getting solved? Ask God for more of him in those situations. Ask God to give you a glimpse of the bigger picture and how to navigate the challenges you are facing while not losing sight of God. Ask God to use these situations to draw you closer to himself. Tell God you want more of him.
  • For your six: David calls Solomon into his position as king, leaving him with clear words of direction. Ask God to call your six into what he has for them. Pray God would clearly guide your six. Pray that God would be a part of whatever pressing decisions your six currently face.
  • For our church: A large part of Solomon’s ability to have his throne firmly established was because he was following in the footsteps of his father and building upon what had happened before him. New England has an incredible legacy of God doing great things. Pray that our church would be a part of that and would learn from and build upon what has happened before us. Pray that we would follow in the footsteps of great people of faith and movements of God that have happened right here.
  • For families: Parents, are there things now, in life, that you want to pass on to your kids? Often we wait until the end of our lives or until we are under some type of pressure to think about these things. Spend some time thinking about what you want to be passing on to your kids, both now and at the end of your life. What are some of your hopes for them? What are things you want to say to them or encourage in them now? Choose a couple of these things and talk with your kids about them. Ask your kids if there are qualities or skills they see in you that they really want to take on for themselves. Pray together that God would help you be a family that walks faithfully before God with all your heart and soul.