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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[2 Kings 23. 3 Kings 1–2]

DAVID was thirty years old when he ascended the throne of Israel, and he reigned forty years in honour and glory. When the time of his death drew near, he gathered together the princes of Israel, and told them that he had intended to build a house to the Lord, and had prepared all the materials for a new Temple; but that the Lord had not allowed him to carry out his plan, because he had shed much blood in his many battles.

The building of the Temple was reserved for Solomon, his son, whose kingdom should be great and powerful if he would be faithful to the Commandments of God. David therefore exhorted his son to serve God with a good will, because the Lord sounds the depths of hearts and penetrates the thoughts of men. “If thou seek Him”, said David, “thou shalt find Him; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.”

David then gave his son gold and silver for the vessels of the Sanctuary, together with the plan of the Temple and its precincts, and said to him: “All these things came to me written by the hand of the Lord. Act like a man, take courage and fear not; for the Lord my God will be with thee nor forsake thee till thou hast finished the House of the Lord.”

Then addressing the assembled princes David said: “The work is great; for a house is prepared not for man, but for God. Now, if any man is willing to offer, let him fill his hand to-day, and offer what he pleaseth to the Lord.” And the princes and the people joyfully brought their gifts for the Temple of the Lord.

And David rejoicing exclaimed: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of Israel, our Father from eternity to eternity. All things are Thine, and we have given Thee what we received of Thy hand. O Lord, keep for ever this will of their heart and let this mind remain always for the worship of Thee; and give to Solomon, my son, a perfect heart, that he may keep Thy Commandments.” Having thus spoken, David slept in peace. He was buried in Sion (Fig. 45).

God’s Omniscience. David said to Solomon: “Serve God with a perfect heart; for the Lord searcheth all hearts and thoughts of the soul.”

God’s Holiness. God indeed forgave David his sin, but all the same He told him that he should not build Him a Temple, because he was a man of blood.

God’s Justice. “If thou forsake God,” said David to Solomon, “He will cast thee off for ever.”

The end of David’s life. The last days of the royal prophet’s life were beautiful and edifying. His only care was that a fitting Temple should be raised to the Lord, and he urged his son most earnestly to be faithful and obedient to God. And then he slept “in the Lord”, i. e. in the grace of the Lord. He was able to gaze back on his active and eventful life, and leave it with the thought that he had finished his task. The task which God had given the former shepherd to do was very great and important for the development of God’s kingdom upon earth. David had secured to the chosen people their possession of the Promised Land, he had disabled his enemies for a long time to come, he had strengthened the unity of the people, ordered the government of the country according to God’s laws, extirpated the remnants of idolatry and advanced the worship of God by his regulations concerning it, by his example and his ever-beautiful Psalms. His prophecies concerning the Messias had quickened the spiritual life of the people, and turned their thoughts to the source of grace. He was a chosen instrument of God and, with the exception of his fall, of which he deeply repented, he lived a life well-pleasing to Him. God therefore gave him the grace of perseverance and of a happy death.

A retrospect of David’s virtues: humility, confidence in God, piety, zeal for God’s glory, patience, love of his enemies, justice, generosity and fatherly care of his subjects. The Holy Ghost says about him (Ecclus. 47:10): “With his whole heart he praised the Lord and loved the God who made him.” He is rightly counted among the Saints of the Old Testament and is still venerated by the Church.

 

Fig. 45. Sepulchre of David in Sion at Jerusalem.

David, the twelfth type of Jesus Christ. David not only foretold the sufferings and glory of the Redeemer, but was himself a type of Him. He was born at Bethlehem; he led a hidden life during his youth, and conquered Goliath with a contemptible weapon (Jesus overcame Satan by means of the despised Cross). He was persecuted by Saul, to whom he had done nothing but good; he was patient and full of love towards his enemies. He was both prophet and king; he ascended the Mount of Olives, crossing the brook Cedron, bowed down with grief; and returned triumphantly to Jerusalem (the type of the Ascension), having gained the victory over his enemies (“sitteth at the right hand of God”).

The end of man. When Solomon was anointed king, in his father’s lifetime, David said to him: “Serve God with a perfect heart and willing mind.” When he was dying, he thus exhorted him: “Keep the charge of the Lord thy God to walk in His ways, as is written in the law of Moses.” All men, whatever their age or position may be, have one end to live for, namely to love God and serve Him by a faithful observance of His law.

The four last things. The journey of life leads to death. High and low, rich and poor, we must all die. And after death come the judgment and an eternity, either of joy in heaven or of misery in hell.

Offerings for the House of God. In Psalm 25 David says: “I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of Thy house and the place where Thy glory dwelleth.” He made rich offerings to the Temple which was to be built to the Lord, and his example fired the people to make generous gifts for the same purpose. He who loves God, will gladly make offerings to Him for the building and decorating of His churches and for the splendour of His worship. What we give for such an object, is given to God. “Give to the Lord,” said David when he asked for stones wherewith to build the Temple.

APPLICATION. Take to heart David’s exhortations to Solomon, as much as if they had been made to yourself. Be steadfast! Hitherto you have been very inconstant. Observe everything which the Lord has commanded. On what point do you generally and chiefly transgress God’s law? Pray to-day for the grace of steadfastness!








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