Passing the baton

“So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel” (1 Chronicles 23:1). King David had the power to appoint his successor. Solomon did not inherit the throne, nor did he have a right to it because he was in a particular position in David’s family. In the same way the God made David king, David made Solomon the king over Israel.

At the time when David transferred the kingdom to Solomon, it says that “David was old and full of years” (1 Chronicles 23:1). What this means is that it was time for David to step down. The word translated full is sâbêa‘ (saw – bay´ – eh). Sabea’ often expresses God’s satisfying, supplying man with his material needs.

One of the tasks that Solomon was charged with was building the temple of God. It says in 1 Chronicles 22:5-6, “the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnificant, of fame and of glory throughout all countries…So David prepared abundantly before his death…Then, he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build a house for the LORD God of Israel.”

It is possible that David transferred the responsibility of the kingdom to Solomon many years before his death. We know from 2 Samuel 5:4 that “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” The fact that David made Solomon king could mean that he merely transferred the responsibility before it normally was expected to happen.

It says in 1 Chronicles 17:11-12, “And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will stablish his kingdom. He shall build me a house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.” Though in this context these words refer to Solomon, the New Testament applies them to Jesus in Luke 1:32-33 (Note on 1 Chronicles 17:12-14). It says specifically of Jesus in Luke 1:32, “the Lord God shall give him the throne of his father David.”

It may be that David knew Solomon’s  reign over Israel was intended to begin as soon as peace was established as an opportunity for the temple of God to be built. Once David had established peace in the land, he wanted to start work on the temple immediately. If David waited to transfer the kingdom to Solomon until after he was dead, work on the temple would be delayed because David had been told that he was not allowed to do it (1 Chronicles 17:4).

After David died, Israel’s commitment to the LORD began to slowly diminish. The years David spent establishing a peaceful environment for God’s people to worship their God were not wasted, but had little long term value. What became evident to David in his later years was that his only purpose was to make a way for the Messiah to be born. Everything else David did to establish God’s kingdom was vanity.

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