MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron
As King David was about to “go the way of all the earth”, he spoke to his son Solomon: “‘If your sons are careful… you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’” He stated two conditions in order that God’s promises would be fulfilled: moral and spiritual growth, and political stability (1 Kings 2:1-4). David’s reference to Israel was the name given Isaac’s son Jacob, “the one who persevered with God”. Their descendants became the nation Israel, with whom God made a covenant. “The Lord’s promise” alluded to 2 Samuel 17:12-16, and the pledge of a Messiah (Anointed One) who would come from David’s line and who would reign forever.
Next, David’s attention turned to matters of deferred justice. Three individuals had committed acts punishable by death; another had provided blessings when the king was in need, and one was a disloyal priest. David had left justice unresolved during his reign, but as he neared death, he recounted each case to Solomon: Joab had shed innocent blood; Barzillai had shown kindness to David while he was in exile; Shimei had cursed him and joined the rebellion. David’s final instructions appealed to Solomon’s wisdom to carry out what needed to be done. “Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David. David reigned over Israel forty years: seven in Hebron, and thirty-three in Jerusalem. And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established” (1 Kings 2:10-11).
Solomon accepted responsibility to carry out justice (1 Kings 2:13-46). Those who had led the plot to place Adonijah on the throne - despite God’s and David’s choice of Solomon - were dealt with. Barzillai’s family was rewarded. After being given a second chance, Adonijah tried to circumvent God’s will and was executed. Joab and later Shimei were given reprieves, but their continued offenses led to their destruction as well. The disloyal priest Abiathar was allowed to live, but he was removed from his duties.
Different from most earthly kings, David had ruled as a servant of God and a servant to his people. He believed that it was God who placed him on the throne, and that permanency of the kingdom depended on God. David’s charge was to pass along the kingdom to his descendants, and he successfully did this with Solomon. His son’s reign began well; Solomon loved the Lord, respected his father, and walked in God’s statutes. However, as with many earthly governments, compromises brought about divisions between Israel and Judah, and disaster for God’s people after Solomon’s death. For more than nine hundred years until the time of Jesus, the people of Israel waited for restoration.
Down through centuries, God remained the central figure, faithful no matter the kings or kingdoms. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth, he said, “‘Behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end’” (Luke 1:31-33).
On the night of Jesus’ birth, an angel announced to shepherds near Bethlehem, “‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10-11).
An elderly man in Jerusalem (Luke 2:25-35) saw Mary and Joseph bringing the newborn for dedication in the temple. Simeon held the baby in his arms, and praised God for giving him a glimpse of “a light for revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Anna, an 84-year-old woman in the temple also saw the young family and “…began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak about [the baby] to all those who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).
Magi traveled from the east, possibly Persia (Iran) where Daniel had lived centuries before. In one of his visions (Daniel chapter 7), “one like a Son of Man” came up to the “Ancient of Days”, and was given dominion, glory, and an everlasting kingdom. By this time, a transition had been made to calling people in Israel “Jews” which referred to David’s tribe Judah in the Southern Kingdom. The magi asked King Herod, “‘Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east and have come to worship Him’” (Matthew 2:2).
Jesus often referred to himself as Son of Man. Throughout his life and ministry, Jesus the Christ [Anointed One] taught about a new kingdom. Sentenced to be crucified because of accusations by religious leaders, he died under Pilate’s inscription on his cross which proclaimed, “King of the Jews”. The baby born in Bethlehem gave himself as a sacrifice for all, and ushered in the long-awaited Kingdom of Heaven. Regardless of our heritage, anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and king immediately enters that kingdom.