Summary: Lessons from the end of David’s life.


A. A precocious 10 year-old asked her grandmother, “Grandma, how old are you?”

1. Well, honey, when you’re my age, you don’t share your age with just anybody.”

2. “Please, I won’t tell,” said the granddaughter.

3. “No, it’s my secret,” said her grandmother.

4. About 20 minutes later, the little girl bounced in and announced, “Grandma, you’re 75 and you weigh 140 pounds.”

5. The astonished grandmother said, “How in the world do you know that?”

6. “Easy,” the little girl replied, “I looked at your driver’s license and did the math. I also saw that you got an “F” in sex.”

B. Reader’s Digest offered this humorous quip:

1. A young man approached his grandfather to ask him about his retirement.

2. He knew that for over 40 years his grandfather had put in long hours at his job so he was more than a little curious about the way he filled his days since his retirement.

3. “How has life changed for you?” the grandson asked.

4. His grandfather, a man of few words, replied, “Well I get up in the morning with nothing to do, and I go to bed at night with it half-done.”

C. I hope that those of you who are retired, are enjoying your retirement, and I hope you are serving the Lord in your retirement.

1. We might retire from our careers, but we never retire from being a Christian!

I. The Story

A. King David was ready to retire, but before he did, there were a couple of more things to accomplish.

1. David had lived to be an aged monarch.

2. He was a king who was greatly revered by his people.

3. He is beloved for his music and poetry.

4. He is respected for his remarkable wealth and power.

5. He is famous far and wide for his military might and numerous victories.

6. And he is emulated for his great love and esteem for the Lord God.

B. Like so many elderly people, David, in the twilight of his years, had a diminished physical condition.

1. He became somewhat thin and feeble, and was unable to keep himself comfortably warm.

2. The Bible says: When King David was old and well advanced in years, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So his servants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to attend the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.” Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful girl and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The girl was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no intimate relations with her. (1 Kings 1:1-4)

3. So in a time before the invention of the heated blanket, or electric heating pad, they found a young woman who was “hot” in more ways than one.

4. She served the king, but did so in an upright and holy fashion.

5. I wonder what she thought about this assignment.

6. She likely was a teenager, perhaps only 14 years of age.

7. To be expected to tend to the personal and private needs of an aged king with tender affection called for a lady of a rare gentleness and generous spirit.

8. Abishag was her name, and it appears that she was a blessing to the old monarch.

C. Meanwhile, in the absence of David’s strong leadership, David’s son, Adonijah, took advantage of the situation and proclaimed himself to be the king.

1. Adonijah was David’s fourth son, but it appears that he was the next in line for the throne.

2. The oldest, Amnon, had been murdered by David’s 3rd son, Absalom as punishment for raping Absalom’s sister, Tamar.

3. He in turn was executed by Joab during Absalom’s revolt against David, his father.

4. Scripture does not reveal what happened to Daniel, David’s second oldest son, born to the lovely Abigail. We can only assume that he, too, died somewhere along the way.

5. This meant that the logical person to be in line for the throne would be the next born, Adonijah.

D. The Bible says: Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never interfered with him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)

Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard did not join Adonijah.

Adonijah then sacrificed sheep, cattle and fattened calves at the Stone of Zoheleth near En Rogel. He invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah who were royal officials, but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the special guard or his brother Solomon. (1 Kgs. 1:5-10)

1. So Adonijah was determined to be the next king of Israel.

2. He followed Absalom’s earlier example and step by step set himself up to succeed his father.

3. He assembled horses and chariots and had formidable young footman to run before him.

4. He was daring enough to seek support from such venerable stalwarts as Joab, David’s long-time commander-in-chief, and Abiathar, the aged priest who had always served his father.

5. The Bible tells us that he, too, was a handsome and impressive person.

E. Sadly, much like Absalom, it appears that Adonijah was a spoiled young man.

1. The stunning commentary of God’s Word concerning David’s failure as a father include the words, “His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’ ”

2. David had not corrected, disciplined or guided this young man as he should have.

3. The result is what you would expect – a self-centered, selfish, spoiled adult.

F. It appears to me that Adonijah had some sense that what he was doing was wrong.

1. What is telling about that is who Adonijah included on the coronation guest list and who was missing.

2. And who was missing? His brother Solomon, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah, David’s special guard.

3. So Adonijah assembled his supporters just outside the royal city and held a full-fledged coronation banquet while he was duly anointed with oil as king by Abiathar.

4. And the ringing cry of the people went up, “Long live King Adonijah!”

G. The word of all of this came back to Nathan the prophet and he was stunned by the news.

1. The Bible says: Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, “Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king without our lord David’s knowing it? Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. Go in to King David and say to him, ‘My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: “Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne”? Why then has Adonijah become king?’’ While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and confirm what you have said.” (1 Kgs 1:11-14)

2. As I said, Nathan was stunned by the news. Had the king changed his mind or was this a rebellion against God’s sovereign choice of Solomon?

3. With clear spiritual perception, Nathan saw at once that the nation stood in peril.

4. Civil war and unbridled bloodshed could well be the outcome of this tenuous situation.

5. Without a moment’s delay, the aged prophet went to see Bathsheba the queen.

6. He urged her to seek an audience with the king in order to tell him of the terrible threat to her son, Solomon’s future throne, and her own life, for that matter.

7. She alone could remind the monarch of God’s choice and David’s promise to her.

H. To her credit, Bathsheba moved quickly.

1. Moments later she was in David’s private quarters presenting her case, and demanding a decision that would determine the destiny of all Israel for all time.

2. No sooner had she spoken her piece, then Nathan stood outside the royal chambers requesting an audience with the king.

3. Nathan’s main purpose was to determine if indeed the king had changed his mind regarding the successor to the throne.

4. Nevertheless, a decision had to be made without delay.

I. To his credit, David was, to the end of his life, a man of action.

1. He had made some regrettable decisions during his long reign, and he had been far from perfect in many ways, but he could act with firmness and finality when he wanted to.

2. Amid his weakness and infirmity, David still had a will of steel.

3. He did not hesitate for an instant.

4. The Bible says: The king then took an oath: “As surely as the LORD lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the LORD, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”

Then Bathsheba bowed low with her face to the ground and, kneeling before the king, said, “May my lord King David live forever!”

King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and set Solomon my son on my own mule and take him down to Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.”

Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. As the LORD was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!” (1 Kgs 1:29-37)

J. David’s faithful servants did exactly as he had commanded.

1. They followed through with the seven steps of sure succession and Solomon was indeed the rightful king.

2. The coronation ceremony for Solomon shook the whole city with dazzling excitement.

3. The roar of the celebration reached as far as the place where Adonijah was still celebrating with his guests.

4. Immediately Joab was alarmed – his long experience as a commander alerted him at once to the meaning of the distant thunderous applause.

5. Joab had backed the wrong man and he knew that his future was in jeapardy.

K. Immediately, a messenger arrived and explained that Solomon had been officially anointed as king and was sitting on the royal throne.

1. The Bible says: At this, all Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and dispersed. But Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went and took hold of the horns of the altar. Then Solomon was told, “Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’ ”

Solomon replied, “If he shows himself to be a worthy man, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.” Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, “Go to your home.” (1 Kgs 1:49-53)

2. So much for “Long live King Adonijah!”

3. Like a covey of quail scattered by the shot of a gun, all of Adonijah’s fair weather friends disappeared.

4. In blind panic, Adonijah, suddenly a political refugee, rushed to the tabernacle and flung himself on the sacred horns of the altar.

5. He thought to himself, “Surely I’m safe in the house of God.”

6. When the news of Adonijah’s dramatic behavior was brought to the new king, Solomon acted with measured self-restraint.

7. He gave Adonijah a solemn warning – “Behave yourself, or else.”

8. Only time would tell if Adonijah would live or die, but the decision would be based on his own actions.

L. And so David had made Solomon the king in compliance with the will of God.

1. This pleased many who had followed David.

a. The Bible says: Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the LORD, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. As the LORD was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!” (1 Kgs 1:36-37)

b. And the Bible says: Also, the royal officials have come to congratulate our lord King David, saying, ‘May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his throne greater than yours!’ (1 Kgs 1:47a)

2. This was also a very rewarding and satisfying thing for David.

a. The Bible says: And the king bowed in worship on his bed and said, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.” (1 Kgs 1:47b-48)

II. The Application

A. What are some lessons we can learn from today’s story from the life of David?

B. First, we learn that leadership sometimes calls for decisive action.

1. As leaders in the church, or the community, or the home – when danger threatens – we must act wisely and decisively.

2. It is important for us to immediately look to the Lord for direction and wisdom before we act, but once we have a sense of the right action to take, we must take it.

3. To drag our feet could be disastrous.

4. Kind David is a great example for us at this point – he saw the danger of Adonijah’s rebellion, and he acted wisely and decisively – something he did not do when faced with Absalom’s revolt.

5. David had learned from that mistake that leadership calls for decisive action.

6. May God give us the wisdom and strength to do His will and to oppose any spiritual threat to the church or the community or our families.

C. A second lesson we learn from today’s story is – we must accept from the Lord the positions and places that God has given us, and we must never seek to take what is not meant to be ours.

1. Solomon was the rightful successor to the throne – it was a position that was not his to take, but was his to gracefully receive.

2. The position of king was not Adonijah’s to take for himself – had he honestly approached God about the position, then he would have known it was not for him.

3. It is not for us to complain to the Lord about the positions and places the Lord has ordained for us, but we must simply trust God and allow Him to work in us as He wills.

4. To try to skirt God and take what is not for us only leads to trouble.

5. To desire what God intends for others and to somehow take it by force or by trickery will not result in blessing.

D. Finally, from today’s story we learn that age will catch up with all of us.

1. None of us should fear growing old, nor should we apologize for the limitations of aging.

2. Someone said that we should never regret growing older, many people don’t get that privilege.

3. There is a time for everything – a time to be younger and more able and more active, and there is a time to be older and less able and less active.

4. King David has been a great servant of the Lord – when he was younger, he was so able and active.

5. But now he is older and less able and less active, but he is still a great servant of the Lord.

6. And even in his older age, he is taking care of his responsibilities to the best of his abilities.

7. That’s all God asks of us – and that is to be faithful at all of the stages of our lives with whatever abilities we have at each stage.

8. And as a church we must appreciate and respect all of the stages of life.

9. We should appreciate and benefit from the younger and middle stages of life, but we should also appreciate and benefit from the older stages of life.

10. Prov. 16:31 says: “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.”

11. Prov. 20:29 says: “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”

12. Age will catch up with all of us, and that is part of God’s plan.

13. These earthly bodies are not meant to last forever.

14. Like King David, let us serve God and be faithful all our days.

15. And as we near the end of our days, and our abilities diminish, let us do what we can to continue to serve and bless God’s people.

16. Let us all honor our elderly members and appreciate their heroic service in their younger days.

17. And let us serve them and meet their needs as best we can in their older days.

E. Let me end with this piece written by someone young at heart: “I have become a little older since I saw you last, and a few changes have come into my life since then. Frankly, I have become quite a frivolous old gal. I am seeing five gentlemen every day.

As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed. Then I go see John. Then Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here he takes a lot of my time and attention. When he leaves Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn’t like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint. After such a busy day I’m really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay. What a life!

The preacher came to call the other day. He said at my age I should be thinking about the hereafter. I told him, “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am – in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement – I ask myself what am I here after?”

F. We all should be thinking about the hereafter no matter how old we are.

1. Are you ready for the hereafter?

2. If today should be your last day, are you ready to meet your Lord?

3. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mk. 16:16)

4. And Jesus said, “Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

5. Are you faithfully serving God in your youth?

6. Are you faithfully serving God at middle age?

7. Are you faithful as the number of years begins to mount and your body is giving out?

8. Are you ready? Let’s be ready all the time!