URC Daily Devotion  28th July 2021

Wednesday 28th July
 

1 Kings 1:1-5, 11-18, 29-30 and 2:1-4, 10-11

King David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.  So his servants said to him, ‘Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant; let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.’  So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.  The girl was very beautiful. She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her sexually. Now Adonijah son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king’; he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him…

…Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah son of Haggith has become king and our lord David does not know it?  Now therefore come, let me give you advice, so that you may save your own life and the life of your son Solomon.  Go in at once to King David, and say to him, “Did you not, my lord the king, swear to your servant, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne? Why then is Adonijah king?”  Then while you are still there speaking with the king, I will come in after you and confirm your words.’…

…So Bathsheba went to the king in his room. The king was very old; Abishag the Shunammite was attending the king.  Bathsheba bowed and did obeisance to the king, and the king said, ‘What do you wish?’  She said to him, ‘My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying: Your son Solomon shall succeed me as king, and he shall sit on my throne.  But now suddenly Adonijah has become king, though you, my lord the king, do not know it…

…When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying:  ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous,  and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.  Then the Lord will establish his word that he spoke concerning me: “If your heirs take heed to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you a successor on the throne of Israel.”…

…Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David.  The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned for seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem…

Reflection

This selection of verses tells of events leading up to David’s death and that Solomon succeeded him on the throne; but it wasn’t a smooth transition.  David’s frailty is emphasised: he accepts Abishag into his bed as a hot water bottle rather than as a new sexual partner!  Adonijah, David’s eldest surviving son, attempts to seize the throne before his father is dead.  Nathan and Bathsheba conspire together in support of Solomon and manipulate David into naming Solomon as the next king.  

After reassuring Solomon of God’s covenantal promises, David’s final words are less wholesome.  In 1 Kings 2:5-9 he instructs Solomon to put to death two people whom David had only spared to avoid blood guilt.  

In contrast the Chronicler’s David is in total control of everything.  He makes Solomon king, presents him with a detailed blueprint for the Temple and its systems – that spans 7 chapters! – blesses the people and dies. 

Few of us have any idea what our declining years will bring in terms of physical and mental faculties, or frailties, (which is a good thing) but the approach of death is something we all have to face, for ourselves and our loved ones.  Pretending it will never happen is unhelpful to everyone; and making a will and setting our affairs in order while we remain capable of doing so, is sensible whatever our circumstances are.  

We may aim to grow old gracefully and be no trouble to others; but we cannot guarantee that. The way the elderly are treated by society or family, however, is an issue where we all have an opportunity to make a positive difference.  We can enable someone nearing life’s end to retain their dignity; and love them with patience and compassion.  We can campaign for a just social care system that works!

Prayer 

Loving God we pray for people who struggle to cope with advancing years, their own or another’s.  We pray for any who suffer abuse at the hands of those with a responsibility to care.  We pray for all who provide long-term care and often lack the support they need to fulfil their role.

We pray that your love will meet the needs of those whom we fail.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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