The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 73: The Last Years of David
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The destroying angel had stayed his course outside Jerusalem.
He stood upon Mount Moriah, "in the threshing floor of Ornan
the Jebusite." Directed by the prophet, David went to the mountain,
and there built an altar to the Lord, "and offered burnt
offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and He
answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering."
"So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague
was stayed from Israel."
The spot upon which the altar was erected, henceforth ever
to be regarded as holy ground, was tendered to the king by
Ornan as a gift. But the king declined thus to receive it. "I will
verily buy it for the full price," he said; "for I will not take that
which is thine for the Lord, not offer burnt offerings without
cost. So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of [p. 749] gold by weight." This spot, memorable as the place where Abraham
had built the altar to offer up his son, and now hallowed
by this great deliverance, was afterward chosen as the site of the
temple erected by Solomon.
Still another shadow was to gather over the last years of
David. He had reached the age of threescore and ten. The hardships
and exposures of his early wanderings, his many wars, the
cares and afflictions of his later years, had sapped the fountain
of life. Though his mind retained its clearness and strength,
feebleness and age, with their desire for seclusion, prevented a
quick apprehension of what was passing in the kingdom, and
again rebellion sprang up in the very shadow of the throne.
Again the fruit of David's parental indulgence was manifest. The
one who now aspired to the throne was Adonijah, "a very goodly
man" in person and bearing, but unprincipled and reckless. In
his youth he had been subjected to but little restraint; for "his
father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast
thou done so?" He now rebelled against the authority of God,
who had appointed Solomon to the throne. Both by natural endowments
and religious character Solomon was better qualified
than his elder brother to become ruler of Israel; yet although the
choice of God had been clearly indicated, Adonijah did not fail
to find sympathizers. Joab, though guilty of many crimes, had
heretofore been loyal to the throne; but he now joined the
conspiracy against Solomon, as did also Abiathar the priest.
The rebellion was ripe; the conspirators had assembled at a
great feast just without the city to proclaim Adonijah king, when
their plans were thwarted by the prompt action of a few faithful
persons, chief among whom were Zadok the priest, Nathan the
prophet, and Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. They represented
the state of affairs to the king, reminding him of the
divine direction that Solomon should succeed to the throne.
David at once abdicated in favor of Solomon, who was immediately
anointed and proclaimed king. The conspiracy was crushed.
Its chief actors had incurred the penalty of death. Abiathar's life
was spared, out of respect to his office and his former fidelity to
David; but he was degraded from the office of high priest, which
passed to the line of Zadok. Joab and Adonijah were spared for
the time, but after the death of David they suffered the penalty of [p. 750] their crime. The execution of the sentence upon the son of David
completed the fourfold judgment that testified to God's abhorrence
of the father's sin.
From the very opening of David's reign one of his most
cherished plans had been that of erecting a temple to the Lord.
Though he had not been permitted to execute this design, he had
manifested no less zeal and earnestness in its behalf. He had provided
an abundance of the most costly material—gold, silver, onyx
stones, and stones of divers colors; marble, and the most precious
woods. And now these valuable treasures that he had collected
must be committed to others; for other hands must build the
house for the ark, the symbol of God's presence.
Seeing that his end was near, the king summoned the princes
of Israel, with representative men from all parts of the kingdom,
to receive this legacy in trust. He desired to commit to them his
dying charge and secure their concurrence and support in the
great work to be accomplished. Because of his physical weakness,
it had not been expected that he would attend to this transfer
in person; but the inspiration of God came upon him, and
with more than his wonted fervor and power, he was able, for the
last time, to address his people. He told them of his own desire
to build the temple, and of the Lord's command that the work
should be committed to Solomon his son. The divine assurance
was, "Solomon thy son, he shall build My house and My courts;
for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father.
Moreover I will establish his kingdom forever, if he be constant
to do My commandments and My judgments, as at this day."
"Now therefore," David said, "in the sight of all Israel the
congregation of the Lord, and in the audience of our God, keep
and seek for all the commandments of the Lord your God:
that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance
for your children after you forever."
David had learned by his own experience how hard is the
path of him who departs from God. He had felt the condemnation
of the broken law, and had reaped the fruits of transgression;
and his whole soul was moved with solicitude that the leaders
of Israel should be true to God, and that Solomon should obey
God's law, shunning the sins that had weakened his father's
authority, embittered his life, and dishonored God. David knew [p. 751] that it would require humility of heart, a constant trust in God,
and unceasing watchfulness to withstand the temptations that
would surely beset Solomon in his exalted station; for such
prominent characters are a special mark for the shafts of Satan.
Turning to his son, already acknowledged as his successor on the
throne, David said: "And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the
God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with
a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth
all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him,
He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast
thee off forever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee
to build a house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it."
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