With Solomon safely on the throne David gives him his final instructions. His instructions concern God and the kingdom. He tacks on three men also.
When I first sat down to write about today’s reading my mind immediately went to the two men David called on Solomon to deal decisively with but then I reread the passage and realized they were merely a footnote in David’s instructions. David’s main concern was Solomon’s future with God.
After a lifetime of parental problems, David gets his final focus right on. “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in His ways and keeping His statutes, His commandments, His rules, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses” (verses 2b-3a). This is the command that David should have instilled in all of his children from the beginning. How different would his life have been if he had? From what we will read in Proverbs it appears that David did teach Solomon these principles from his youth. Yet his other children did NOT benefit from this wisdom.
Even when we do teach children everything we believe God wants us to, they don’t always follow it all their lives. But we can hold onto a promise we are given from Proverbs; “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This is a promise I have to hold fast to. I just pray that my ‘training’ wasn’t so flawed therefore making the outcome uncertain.
David’s concern for Solomon’s future with God went beyond Solomon’s own walk with God. It stretched to the future of Israel. David wanted a godly king on the throne forever. If Solomon did as David instructed this is what he could expect: “…that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish His word that He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their ways, to walk before Me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their souk, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel’” (verses 3b-4). ALL God’s promises hinged on David’s sons’ hearts and their walk with God. Each one responsible for his own conduct and for passing this same teaching onto their sons.
With the main point established David turns to personal issues. Three men occupy his mind at this point in his life; two for evil and one for good. Joab is first among these three. Joab has been by David’s side since the beginning. He came to David when he returned from Gath the first time. He has seen David at his best and worst and even assisted David with the murder of Uriah. But Joab’s loyalty is not the issue. It is the innocent blood on his hands. The blood of Abner and Amasa. Both these men were struck down in cold blooded murder. Joab hid behind avenger of blood rules but those being avenged died in war while Joab struck in peacetime. With Amasa I don’t see how he justified himself unless he claimed it was punishment for Amasa supporting Absalom. In both these murders Joab acted the friend until the moment he plunged the knife into an unsuspecting receiver. A cold calculated act of murder. He needed to finally answer for his crimes. Why David didn’t deal with him personally we are not told. Maybe it was out of loyalty for all his years of service. Or could it be because they shared the blood of Uriah?
The next person David brings up is one he wishes to bless for generations to come. Barzillai the Gileadite had been there for David in his darkest hour; when Absalom took his throne. Barzillai fed and cared for David and all who were with him during this time. A loyalty that should never be forgotten. Barzillai felt he was too old to reap the benefits of his loyalty but asked that the debt be repaid to his son. David extended that benefit to all Barzillai’s son’s sons.
The last man on David’s mind was Shimei; the man who cursed David for MILES as he fled Absalom. Shimei didn’t just throw a handful of insults as David passed by. He followed along the ridge line cursing David all the way from Bahurim to the Jordan. He hurled insults, stones and even dirt on David and those who followed him that day. David bore his words without retaliation. David also promised not to harm him on his return to Jerusalem after Shimei repented of his actions. David MAY have forgiven him but he never forgot the insult. When the even happened David said that the curses may have been from God but when Shimei confessed his ‘sin’ it negated that possibility. Shimei knew what he had done was wrong but David promised not to harm him. But he didn’t promise his son wouldn’t take on the task of punishing him for his sins.
I’m SO glad God doesn’t hold those kinds of grudges! Shimei thought he had been forgiven but it was only a temporary pardon. When I bring my sins to God and ask for forgiveness His forgiveness is complete. But sometimes my sins still carry consequences that He doesn’t remove. Maybe this is what Shimei was receiving.
Father God, when my time comes to die I pray that the only thing on my mind is my children’s future with You. I pray my heart is free of the hurts of the past and that I don’t pass them on to my family to deal with. I wouldn’t mind passing on a praise or two but not the hurts. Let me truly turn loose of the hurts in my life, both big and small. There are some I can still feel right now when I take stock. Please help me let go. Help me forgive as You forgave me. Please take the pain of it too Lord. I want nothing between us. I’ll hold onto the lessons, just not the hurt or anger. Thank You Father that You have, can and still do heal my heart. Keep working!