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OT Survey 113 Seminar 12 David and Solomon Reign

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Andrew Hodge                                                                                                         6th July 2006

Old Testament Survey OTE 113

Seminar 12

David and Solomon and their Reign

Jensen, Irving L. Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament 1978, Moody Press, Chicago  pp180-216; 1 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 1, 2, 5, 11-13, 18; 1 Kings 1-4, 8-11




Discuss David’s anointing:

            Although Saul is not yet dead, Samuel is chided by God for persisting in mourning for him (1 Samuel 15:35) - a king whose performance has been so abysmal in his lack of obedience to God to the point that even God ‘repents’ of what He had done.

            God tells Samuel that He has rejected Saul from reigning over Israel and he wants him to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king (16:1), while Saul is still alive. Samuel naturally fears for his life from Saul and God allows him to use the ruse of taking a heifer as a sacrifice to share with the Bethlehemites (16:2-3, 11).

            Jesse lives in Bethlehem and his selection by God puts the monarchy back onto track - Saul was of Benjamin, David of Judah (Jacob’s blessing on Judah Genesis 49:10).

            Jesse has eight sons and it is testimony to Samuel’s relationship with God that he listens to what God had to say about each of the first seven, rather than believing his own inclinations (1 Samuel 16:6-10). The LORD’s response when Samuel sees David is immediate “Arise, anoint him: for this is he” (16:12) and Samuel does so straight away, in the presence of the whole of David’s family.

            Whether David liked it or appreciated it or not, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (16:13). There is no record that the Spirit ever left David, or was replaced by another, as happened with Saul (16:14). This is important in that while ‘in possession’ of the Spirit, David does some remarkably sinful things - see below.

The Lord does not give us blessings unless He knows that we are capable of receiving them and, ideally, using them. David’s heart was unique (presumably from birth. His family may or may not have been Godly in the sense of worshipping Jehovah in the Spirit of the Law, but David’s seven elder brothers did not have the same Godly relationship ie any family Godliness had not rubbed off on them) for it was “perfect with the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:4, 15:3) and God says he “kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes” (14:8).

Only in the NT is David described by God as “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22 in the context of Paul teaching the Jews in Pisidian Antioch the history of Israel pertaining to the lineage of Christ in the throne of David).

Being “after God’s own heart” clearly does not mean ‘sinless perfection’, ‘terrific at being a king’ or even ‘a good man’ for David was none of these. This quality has to do with the capacity to recognise one’s own sinfulness, specific repentance as soon as possible with a clear turning away from repetition, and the quality of humility to accept the Lord’s full forgiveness. The man who has these is useful in God’s hands, for the burden of sin then seldom interferes with the heavenly relationship and the performance of God’s will. In whatever way this was expressed by David, it was recognised by one of Saul’s (ungodly?) servants as him being Godly, in addition to David’s other virtues (16:18).

David’s anointing as king was not yet complete. Saul was still alive and very much in control. With the evil spirit from God upon him, Saul sought to kill the usurper on multiple occasions both within the king’s palace and throughout the countryside. David had several occasions in which he could have personally killed Saul, but refrained from doing so because his view of God’s anointing of the king was very high, it being God’s business when His anointed should die (2 Samuel 1:16, 21).

When Saul (and his son, David’s particular friend Jonathan) are killed at Mt Gilboa, David enquires of the Lord what he should do next and is told to go up to Hebron, where the men of Judah anoint him king over the house of Judah (2:4). Samuel had died by this time (1 Samuel 25:1).

At the same time, Abner the captain of Saul’s host, anointed Ishbosheth, another son of Saul, as king over all Israel (2 Samuel 2:9). David was content to let God deal with the remnants of Saul’s household in terms of their demands for the right of succession to the kingship of Israel, and ultimately Ishbosheth is killed by his own soldiers (4:7), the remainder of Saul’s ‘direct’ sons by the Gibeonites, with David’s permission (2 Samuel 21:8-9),  and lastly Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s lame son who is no threat to the throne, is received into David’s palace in Jerusalem (9:7).

After Ishbosheth’s death and David’s punishment of the perpetrators, all Israel anoint him king, and he moves from Hebron to make Jerusalem his capital (5:1-10).



Trace the effects of David’s actions on himself, his family, the Nation and his relationship to God:

            Initially, David’s being anointed as king has little flow on effect. David goes back to tending the sheep (1 Samuel 16:19, 17:20) where he says he has killed both a lion and a bear in defence of the flock. As he matures he attracts the attention of Saul’s courtiers who are looking for someone to soothe the king with music when he is in one of his evil moods. At that time David is described to Saul as “cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18). It is possible that he had attended one of Samuel’s prophet schools and had been noticed there.

            David’s destiny naturally separates him from his parental family and there is little scriptural reference to them after the battle with the Philistines in which David kills Goliath. Nevertheless, David is frequently referred to as “the son of Jesse” implying that Jesse’s reputation was high.

            David’s attitude toward and treatment of Saul and his sons, his military successes before and after Saul’s death and his leadership of Judah prepare him for full kingship over the Nation, and under him Israel goes a long way toward acquiring the land ceded to them by lot under Joshua at the Eisodus. He reigns for seven and a half years in Hebron and thirty three years from Jerusalem, acquiring six wives and nineteen sons and one named daughter - Tamar - as well as children by concubines (1 Chronicles 3:1-9).

            David had a number of qualities - military, political - that made him initially successful as a king. As a father of a family he was an abysmal failure, and as an example of a father to his nation he advertised ‘how not to do it’.

            The turning point in David’s career comes at his adultery with Bathsheba. Solomon, the third legitimate son of David and Bathsheba, is about 17 when he ascends the throne of his father David, making David’s adultery near the mid point of his forty year reign. By this act he sets the scene for much personal, family and National sorrow and stress, and his successes as king fade into the background for the whole of the second twenty years. From this point on, the quality of his relationship with God declines in that he allows ungodly attitudes and decisions to adversely influence his family and his court and therefore the nation.

            Although it is “the time when kings go forth to battle” (2 Samuel 11:1), David sends Joab and the army to besiege Rabbah of the Ammonites without going himself. Perhaps his harem of available women had increased rather than satisfied his sexual lust, and David defies respectable convention to ogle a beautiful woman in the house next door. He demands her even after being told she is already married (11:3) and she conceives, but the boy dies in infancy.

In an effort to hide his behaviour, David arranges for her honourable husband Uriah to be killed and after the minimum interval for mourning he formally marries her and she gives him three more sons, the third of whom is Solomon. She remains David’s favourite wife and she retains considerable influence with him right up to his death.

            If Psalm 32:3-4 and Psalm 51 are correctly assessed as belonging to the time immediately after this evil step, David was deeply and adversely affected before God, but did not repent until God sent the prophet Nathan a year later with a parable to stimulate David into proper repentance.

Ironically, David passes judgment on himself. He will first ‘die’ (2 Samuel 12:5) and ‘he shall restore fourfold’ (12:6). Nathan expands the judgment:  (2 Samuel 12:11-14)  “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.[1]”

            Note that God in His mercy spares David from the self-imposed judgment of death, but He carries through everything else that Nathan prophesies. David’s fourfold ‘restoration’ is a fourfold family calamity. First, his son by adultery dies; second, his son Absalom kills the oldest step-brother Amnon for raping Absalom’s full sister Tamar; third, his unnaturally beloved son Absalom is killed in an attempted coup on the throne; and fourth, the remaining eldest son is effectively condemned to death by David himself when he, Adonijah, rightly expected the succession to fall on him rather than on Solomon.

            David is also directly or indirectly responsible for other prominent deaths or murders eg Joab (1 Kings 2:6), Ahithophel (?), Shimei (1 Kings 2:9), Amasa (?), and 70,000 men in Israel after sinning in numbering the people (2 Samuel 24:15). Was David’s retribution on the survivors of Rabbah and the Ammonites so severe because of his recent guilt over Uriah? (12:31).



Explain the reasons for the rise and fall of Solomon:

            When Solomon was born, “the LORD loved him” (2 Samuel 12:24). The name was probably the ‘reign’ name and means ‘peaceable’; Nathan the prophet renamed him Jedidiah, a ‘household’ name meaning ‘beloved of the LORD’.  

Although not David’s firstborn son (he was in fact tenth in line) Solomon was favoured for the succession after Absalom’s rebellion and death in spite of older brothers and step-brothers still living. His succession was sealed on Bathsheba’s and Nathan’s intercession with David when David was on his death bed. David had been too politically lax or weak to have made this clear beforehand.

Solomon had to act quickly to secure his position, but was successful and displayed his talent for wisdom very early in his reign. He subsequently desired God to give him the wisdom needed to govern Israel. Not only did this make him the wisest human that has ever and will ever live (1 Kings 3:12), but illustrates the principle that only those who already have a gift are aware that so much more is possible if that gift is expanded. Solomon begins his reign acting faithfully toward Jehovah (1 Kings 3:3).

Both Solomon’s natural abilities and his newly received capacity for great wisdom enabled him to build the country economically, politically and militarily and the mostly united Nation that David had bequeathed him was strengthened and expanded to worldwide prominence - the Golden Age of Israel that has not been seen since, nor will be until the Millennium. The pinnacle of his reign for those living at the time was the completion and dedication of the Temple which God approved of and made His abode there. For us looking back, Solomon’s writing in Psalms, Proverbs, the Song and Ecclesiastes is of the greatest benefit.

Israel’s political and military situation was enhanced because of the instability of the great powers around Israel at that time - Egypt and Syria in particular (1 Kings 10:28-29).

Solomon’s decline was primarily because he did not have a heart like his father’s - after God’s own; he failed the tests of integrity and uprightness, and was disobedient to God’s commandments, statutes and judgments (1 Kings 9:4). This is particularly evident when reading Ecclesiastes where Solomon seems to fail to see the hand of God in life, and the effects of the sinfulness of man ie himself.

Even though extremely wise, he did not recognise the folly of 700 wives and 300 concubines, nor did he see the influence they exerted on the Nation’s religious practices, even though he himself probably did not actively worship anyone but Jehovah. He was clearly complicit in idolatry of multiple kinds on account of his women, and the writer of 1 Kings declares that they turned Solomon’s heart away toward other gods “and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

He clave to these women in ‘love’ (1 Kings 11:2) which is a broad and indistinct word encompassing the pureness of God’s love for His people, and the physical lust of sexual excess. Solomon almost certainly displayed the wide variety of approaches toward his women contained within this word. Ecclesiastes demonstrates that in the end all of this was ‘vanity’.

In a second appearance to Solomon, Jehovah Himself had warned him of this (1 Kings 9:2-9). God renewed His original promise to David that “There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel” (9:5) and guaranteed Solomon that if he or his children turned away from God, then ‘God would cut off Israel and cast the Temple out of His sight’ (9:7) - fulfilled for the Northern Kingdom over 200 years later (722 BC), and for the Southern Kingdom and Temple about 360 years later (586 BC).

God speaks to Solomon again (1 Kings 11:9-13) in anger, confirming that his sin will result in the collapse of his kingdom (but not loss of the succession, on account of His promise to David).

In addition, and again in spite of his wisdom and colossal wealth, Solomon spent above his income. His major projects (eg 1 Kings 10:16-22) required huge labour forces and although most of this was supplied by the nations he had subjected to tribute (and were living within his borders [9:20-22]), towards the end taxation levels were extreme and there was a levy on each of the regions that supplied his court (1 Kings 4:7) which demanded labour (5:13-18) as well as provisions. The richness of Solomon’s court compared to the increasing burden and poverty of his subjects would have become increasingly irksome. The impost was so great (12:4) that the nation split into two when Solomon’s successor, his son Rehoboam, refused to ease the burden, unwisely demanding even greater sacrifices.

            There is no scriptural record of open rebellion during Solomon’s reign, but Jeroboam (an Ephraimite, the son of Nebat 11:26-40) had incurred Solomon’s displeasure and had to flee to Egypt. 3

            Generally, the vassal states under Israel from the time of David had also not succeeded in breaking away, but two - Edom, and Damascus in Syria - caused Solomon trouble (1 Kings 11:14-25).4




Understand the impact sin has on our relationship with God and others:

            Both David and Solomon reaped what they sowed (Galatians 6:7).

David lost his family, murdered good individuals to exact personal revenge or to cover guilt, and allowed Absalom’s sin to remain unchecked resulting in the very king himself being ejected from his throne. Early in his life David had depended heavily on God and was most thankful to Him for succour and deliverances in every respect. The songs, hymns and psalms attributed to him testify abundantly to this.

            When God through Nathan confronts him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (which also involved Uriah, the infant son which died, his commander in chief Joab, his wives and other offspring) David’s heart knows that it is “Against thee, thee only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4) indicating that at that time his heart was still tender toward his God and that he knew very well where true forgiveness was to be had.

            But, as subsequently seen in his handling of Absalom (not just with Absalom’s usurpation but also earlier, in his two year silence over Amnon raping Tamar) and his numbering of the people, his relationship with God fell away, possibly because he had decided to keep his burdens rather than unloading them onto God as he used to do.

Although David had had to resort to deception of numerous kinds during his rise to power and while he was being pursued by Saul, his heart remained in good contact with his God and he generally acted leniently and mercifully with his enemies. Towards his death however, he becomes almost merciless, even malicious, as he advises Solomon how to handle some outstanding difficulties (1 Kings 1-2).

            This change in David was all the more difficult because of the early condition of his heart toward God. On the other hand, Solomon’s move away from God on account of his disobedience was attended with much less sorrow and guilt because the unspiritual condition of his heart prevented insight into the enormity of his foolishness, in spite of the immensity of his worldly wisdom.

            Those who we see actively disobeying God today - the worldly unsaved, Church goers and Church members, the saved, our families, friends and ourselves - are no less guilty before God as David and Solomon. Like David, the saved know that they have an immediate Presence of the Forgiver who is immediately willing and able to restore relationship (1 John 1:8-9).



3The International Bible Encyclopedia  Fully Revised 1956 - 1988  Geoffrey W. Bromiley General Editor, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan IV, 568







Understand the emptiness of wisdom and riches without a proper relationship with God:

            See above. Even Solomon wrote: “Byb humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life. (Proverbs 22:4)” [2] which he appears not to have consistently remembered.

            God remains in control of all things, especially life and death - neither occur without God’s say-so eg the rich man of Luke 12:16-21 whose soul was demanded of him just when he thought in his unsaved worldliness that he had everything ‘together’.





[1]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

b  By...: or, The reward of humility, etc

[2]  The Holy Bible : King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

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