2 Samuel 20-24: The Twilight Years

Warren Wiersbe, author and preacher, captures the life of David in three words:  solider, singer and sinner.  Certainly this is descriptive of David’s life. And now we are coming to end as we observe King David’s final address and the passing of the crown to his son, Solomon before King David dies at age 70.   

King David’s life has been a fascinating study of a complex, talented, godly man. One‘s’ I would add to Dr. Wiersbe’s description would be shepherd. For David had a shepherd’s heart. When we first met David, he was only a boy on the cusp of manhood, perhaps sixteen or seventeen years old. Samuel had been sent by God to Jesse’s house to anoint God’s chosen man to be the next king.  David was the youngest of 8 sons of Jesse. He was thought of as a child by his father and brothers, therefore he was not invited into the meeting with Samuel. When it was made obvious to Samuel by God the man of his choosing was not present, Samuel asked if there was another son. Jesse then sent for the ‘youngster who was tending the sheep’. Thus David’s life was changed from that day on, as Samuel anointed him in the midst of his family. No wonder his brothers spoke so harshly to him when he visited them on the battlefield. They were jealous of him.  David would become Israel’s most famous and successful king. His Psalms have comforted countless number of believers for centuries. Everyone has heard of David and Goliath, they have become a metaphor for overcoming giants in life. David would reach mountain tops of success few mortals have ever known, but he would also experience valleys of despair and darkness few will every experience.

King David lived a full life. He was now in the twilight years of his life. He had known great success as soldier, singer and king. He had also committed great sin and would once again even in his twilight years slip and sin in his pride and count the strength of his army.  An idea, I Chronicles 21 tells us Satan put in his mind.

An overview of these last years in these chapters recounts the following episodes:

A rebellion led by a Benjamite, named Sheba.  The kingdom was still very divided as thousands had followed Absalom. King David knew he had to deal with this problem quickly or risk losing the kingdom again.

Next came a three year famine and the trouble with the Gibeonites as it seemed King David would put out one fire to find another one had been started. And as if trouble comes in threes, here comes his old enemy, the Philistines led by another giant from Gath.  2 Samuel 21: 15 tells us King David was exhausted.  From the furnace of these afflictions, David would write the song of praise we read in 2 Samuel 22.  Four themes emerge:

  1. When times are tough and all seems against you, God, our Heavenly Father is our only security. Our rock, fortress strength, shield and deliverer. David is surrounded by the “waves of death.”  As we reach our twilight years we understand this. In just the last year I have lost five friends. And I know even more will come.  And when we take a look at the falling away of the church, and the “floods of ungodliness”, it makes us fearful, just as it did David three thousand years ago. It causes us to cry out to God and know He alone is our support. He has provided an ‘ark’ for us to take us through these floods. He is our security.
  2. When the darkness of despair surrounds us, like David we rely on God: “For you are my lamp, O Lord: the Lord shall enlighten my darkness. “vs. 29.  Psalm 27 tells us the Lord is my light, of whom shall I be afraid.
  3. When we are weak, ‘God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect.’ Vs. 33 His strength is made perfect in weakness.
  4. When the future is uncertain, the Lord is our Deliverer. Vs. 44

What lessons we can learn from King David’s life.  Everyone of us has a purpose for living. My purpose is obviously not going to be as great a purpose as David had, but no one God brings to life on this earth is insignificant.  The greatest tragedy would be to live a life without discovering the story the Author and Creator of your life had intended for you. To end up before the great white throne of judgement having not even recognized Him as Creator who gave you the gift of life.

But it can also be as a Christian, you can end up at another judgement seat, the Bema, where your works will be judged for rewards, not punishment. Paul tells us each one work’s will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work of what sort it is. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire. (I Cor. 3)  Can you picture this scene? God is testing your works. I believe we wished we had done more and know at that moment it is too late to do anything about it. But now that you know this is going to occur, you have time to do something about it. Don’t let the temporary blind you to the eternal. Get your priorities right.

What a tragedy to die having never found the purpose, that God -ordained reason for serving your generation. “You are who you are for a reason; you’re part of an intricate plan. You’re a precious and perfect unique design, Called God’s special woman or man.”   There is no one else on the whole earth like you. God chose the time and place you were to be born. You may not think what God has for you to do is very important compared to people like David, but let me remind you who David’s great  grandmother was Ruth, a Moabite who married Boaz, the son of Rahab , a prostitute, who made it into the Hebrews 11 Faith Hall of Fame. That’s right a prostitute!

So let us realize for such a time as this- our twilight years, we have come into the kingdom. Gone are the busy days and long hours we spent in our careers. Our days pass fast, but we must not grow weary in well doing.  “One life, twill soon be past; only what is done for Christ will last.”  “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to break down and time to build up. A time to keep and time to throw away.”  (Eccl. 3)  This is our time.

In I Chronicles 28 and 29 we find King David’s activities in his twilight years. It is the closing chapters of his life and what a full life it has been. In these closing chapters we will see how David spent his twilight years. I Chronicles 28 records King David’s address to the leaders of Jerusalem. He is seventy years old, stooped by age and 40 years of service, battle scarred, no longer the fresh- faced shepherd boy, or the handsome young energetic king the sweet singer of songs.  Looking out at the crowd he sees faces of people who have been on this journey with him.  King David speaks of his dream he was not able to complete, the building of the temple. God had not allowed him to build it. But David did the next best thing, he left the plans and the materials and purchased the location upon which it would be built. He had seen it in his mind’s eye.

Let me ask you do you have a dream, a desire you want to complete before your days are finished? Then start planning it for if you cannot complete the dream, you can pass it on to your children and grandchildren.  I have a dream to write at least two or three more books. To teach until I cannot teach anymore. But if I do not get to complete this, I will die trying. And as I come to that last turn in my journey and head for the finish line, I can look back at what God has done in my life and what He has allowed me to experience.  I have had disappointments and even now am frustrated sometimes with the outcome of my life.  But I want to balance my time in trying to finish strong while not forgetting how good the Lord has been to me and mine.  David focused on the good things God had given him. David began to do what we all need to learn to do- view life from God’s point of view.

I tried for as season to become a preacher, to be ordained. But I could not be ordained because of my past, nor could David be allowed to build the temple because of his past. Our dreams and desires become more realistic as we become older.  We realize some things are just not going to happen, and it may be a hard pill to swallow.  But like David, we can look back and find satisfaction in what God has allowed us to do. Robert Mueller who has been in the news everyday for the last couple of years is an interesting man. He was born into a wealthy family and educated in the best schools. Upon graduation from college, he joined the Marines. He was a captain who led a platoon in Viet Nam. He was in combat numerous times, wounded while rescuing one of his men under fire. He has held high positions, including head of the FBI. But he said the achievement of which he was the proudest was that the Marine Corps deemed him worthy of leading men into battle.   God has allowed me to share the Word of God with hundreds of people for the past thirty years. It is what I am most proud of- that God in His Wisdom allowed me, gifted me to teach His Incomparable Word, while using what I thought was wasted years to encourage others who may have wandered down the broad way as I did.

Don’t live your last years wallowing in what might have been, or the mistakes you made. If anyone could have ended up bitter and overwhelmed by guilt, David surely could have finished that way.

I see King David at this last great assembly,  now turning to his son, Solomon, David speaks these words: “ As for you my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches the hearts and understands all the intents of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you out forever. Consider now the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.” I Chronicles 28:9.

David then shares the plans, the blueprints and all the materials and resources he has gathered for it. So David is able to hand down his dream in a written down fashion. These are important truths and words he is passing on to his son.

Did you notice what was of first importance?  Know the Lord. Know the God of your father.  There are always things to do and get done. But if we do not start with what is most important first, the rest does not matter.

Know Him and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind.

King David had sure made his share of mistakes. He had been humbled by his sins. His sins had caused others much pain and grief.  His story was well known. And his son Solomon knew about them.

In verses 11-19:  I can visualize King David and Solomon with the scrolls of the blueprint laid out on a large table as David goes through the rooms, the chambers, the furnishings for the temple.   As the excitement in David’s words made the drawings come to life in the mind of Solomon, he too saw the temple in all its glory as he caught his father’s vision and dream and it began to become his own.

Listen to King David’s prayer and praise:

“Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father forever and ever. Yours O Lord is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty for all that is in heaven and on earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord. And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all, in Your hand are power and might. In your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God we thank You and praise Your glorious name. “

King David goes on to recognize all the abundance that they have prepared to build the temple God has provided. 

David also prayed for his son: “And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things and to build the temple for which I have made provision. “ (I Chronicles 29)

Solomon was then appointed king.

“Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. And the period that he reigned over Israel was forty years. So he died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honors; and Solomon his son reigned in his place. (I Chronicles 29)

“For David after he has served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep and was buried with his fathers…” (Acts 13: 36)

David certainly paved the way for his son, didn’t he?  And when it came down to tell him what was most important it was knowing and serving God with his whole heart and soul and mind.

One of the signs of the last days, Paul writes of to Timothy is, “ in the last days perilous times will come: “ For men will become lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3

A new generation is coming and already here. We are living in perilous times. One of the marks of this new generation is ingratitude. They are disobedient to parents and unthankful for what their parents and grandparents worked hard to give them.

Did you hear the gratitude and thankfulness to God, King David expressed? Everything he had and that Israel enjoyed came from God.

Here in America how grateful we should be to live in such a beautiful place where we can gather to worship God in spirit and in truth.  A nation founded on Christian principles. A land of great opportunity.

What a heritage our forefathers have sacrificed to give us.   David died. And I know unless the Rapture comes, I will die also. But the principles of God never die. Write down your story, your testimony and let your children and your children’s children know what it was like when we were a country whose Lord was King. Tell them about your parents about what they taught you and teach them what is most important:  know the Lord and serve Him and love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

I have known for some time, the Lord was leading me next to teach from 1& 2 Timothy.  For it is a letter from an older man, Paul, to a young pastor/teacher named Timothy.  It is a letter of warning as well as a letter of exhortation. It is prophetic in portions as Paul described what will occur in the last days in perilous times.  Paul warns about false teaching and the dangers of materialism.

It is a sobering letter when read and studied in light of where we are now.  Paul also stresses the importance and benefits of Scripture.

Please pray for me as I prepare this upcoming series.