How to Transition God’s People from One Leader to the Next: Lessons from David and Solomon

Any church or Christian organization can feel somewhat lost when a pastor or leader steps down, especially if he does so suddenly or resigns because of sin. In the absence of his leadership, there is a time of limbo for God’s people while they search to fill the previous leader’s shoes, or, even if an immediate replacement is found, it takes time for someone new to learn the ropes and pilot the ship into sailing smoothly again.

I am only 36 years old, so I cannot really speak to these things from my own personal experience. However, I can do my best to speak from the Word of God, and we have an interesting example for transitioning leadership in the lives of David and Solomon. There are obviously bigger themes from their lives in Scripture (e.g., even the best kings are still not Jesus; Solomon was the first of many to sit on David’s throne as promised in the Davidic Covenant), but, if carefully done, we can learn other lessons from their lives as well (cf. Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:6, 11).

The first lesson is relatively simple:

Put your house in order before you finish your ministry.

David had a well-organized kingdom by the time of his death, including everything from a well-oiled military to who watched over the donkeys (1 Chronicles 23–27). Having the right resources and people in place, it is no wonder that the kingdom thrived under the wisdom of Solomon.

Even though one might try to put one’s house in order, there will likely be some things that are left undone. This being the case… 

You cannot solve every problem, but you can at least warn your successor of the “problem people” that he will inherit in order for him to handle them well.

David warned Solomon about two men in particular, Joab and Shimei (2 Kings 2:5–9). Joab vengefully murdered a handful of men during David’s kingship and then supported Adonijah’s attempted coup (1 Kings 1). Shimei supported this coup as well and had opposed David in the past when he was on the run from Absalom (2 Samuel 16:5–14). After his second installation as king, Solomon immediately killed Joab for his betrayal of David and then killed Shimei only after he had violated the terms that Solomon had set for him as a lesser punishment than death (2 Kings 2).

Practical matters can linger as well. If something is left undone, you can at least try to…

Pass off projects well.

God did not allow David to build the temple, but he did gather much of its materials for Solomon and gave him the plans as well (1 Chron 28:1–29:22). David knew the task that Solomon had before him and left him well-prepared.

As you near the end…

Don’t wait too long to pass the baton.

Adonijah thought he saw an opening to take his aging father’s throne. Though wrongfully done, he may have been expressing the desire of many to have a younger leader take over. Thankfully, with some frantic persuading by Nathan and Bathsheba, David was still able to hand over the kingdom to Solomon (1 Kings 1).

Off the heels of the last thought…

Give people a proper transition from one leader to the next.

Though Solomon was able to safely become king instead of Adonijah, David gave him a second installation, something more proper and public to help solidify the transfer of kingship from him to Solomon (1 Kings 1; 1 Chron 29:22b–25; cf. 23:1).

More could certainly be said, and the above is more easily said than done. Sometimes circumstances do not allow for a smooth transition, however hard one may try. But, as God is gracious, may He help us all as Christian leaders to do our best to properly transition His people from one leader to the next when He has for us to do so.

Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings: David, Part 11

This entry is part 20 of 20 in the series Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings

In our final look at the life of David, we see that David successfully transitioned the kingdom to Solomon. By the end of his kingdom, David had well-organized nation, including those who served in the temple (1 Chron 23–26), treasury caretakers and those overseeing external duties (i.e., overseeing labor) (1 Chron 26:20–32), the military (1 Chron 27:1–15), the tribal leaders (1 Chron 27:16–24), and stewards of the king’s property and maintenance (1 Chron 27:25–34).

Perhaps waiting too long to transition the kingdom to Solomon, David experienced once last attempt to unlawfully dethrone him by his son Adonijah. His plan was foiled, and, thanks to Nathan and Bathsheba, David installed Solomon as king (1 Kings 1:1–53).

David counseled Solomon to be faithful to God and how to deal with some of the characters involved in his kingship—Joab and Shimei especially (1 Kgs 2:1–9).

David also gave his final charges to Israel and Solomon concerning the temple (1 Chron 28:1–8, 9–21). He appealed to Israel for temple materials, the people gladly responded, and David thanked God (1 Chron 29:1–22a).

Finally, David gave Solomon a second and more fitting installation as king (1 Chron 29:22b–25; cf. 23:1). David died after forty years of ruling in Hebron and Jerusalem, and Solomon’s kingdom was established (1 Kgs 2:10–12; 1 Chron 29:26–30).

In bringing David’s life to a close, we do well to remember a couple of the greater biblical themes tied into these stories:

First, David had a son on the throne, just as God promised to him through the covenant in 2 Samuel 7:8–16.

Second, David was a great king, but he was not a perfect king. Only Jesus can perfectly rule and bring justice to Israel and all nations.

When it comes to searching the above for something practical, I cannot help but notice many lessons about leadership as the above involves the kingdom going from one king to the next. While Christian leaders are obviously not kings, there are a number of helpful lessons to gather from the end of David’s life as he passed the kingdom to Solomon:

Put your house in order before you finish. David had a well-organized kingdom by the time of his death, including everything from a well-oiled military to who watched over the donkeys. Having the right resources and people in place, it is no wonder that the kingdom thrived under the wisdom of Solomon.

You cannot solve every problem, but at least warn your successor of problems that he will inherit. David had quite a bit of trouble with Joab during his kingship, and Joab supported Adonijah’s attempted coup. Shimei heaped coals of fire on David’s head by cursing him when he was already on the run from Absalom. After his second installation as king, Solomon killed Joab immediately and then Shimei only after he had violated the terms that Solomon had set for him.

Pass off projects well. God did not allow David to build the temple, but he did gather much of its materials for Solomon and gave him the plans as well. David knew the task that Solomon had before him and left him well-prepared.

Don’t wait too long to pass the baton. Adonijah thought he saw an opening to take his aging father’s throne. Thankfully, with some frantic persuading by Nathan and Bathsheba, David was still able to hand over the kingdom to Solomon.

Off the heels of the last thought, give people a proper transition from one leader to the next. Though Solomon was able to safely become king instead of Adonijah, David gave him a second installation, something more proper and public to help solidify the transfer of kingship from him to Solomon.

Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings: David, Part 10

This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings

One of the themes in David’s life was that David had a heart to build the temple.The background of the temple is interesting for a couple of reasons.

David plans the temple.

First, what precipitated God’s promise of a house to David (i.e., a dynasty) was David’s intense desire to build a house for the Lord (i.e., a permanent, physical structure; 2 Sam 7:1–17; cf. 7:3; 1 Kgs 8:17–18; 1 Chron 22:7; 28:2; Psalm 132:1–5; Acts 7:46).

Second, the location of the temple came about from the sinful census of David. David was tempted by Satan to command a census, perhaps to find confidence in its size instead of God (cf. 2 Sam 24:3), bringing about God’s wrath through pestilence at the hand of his destroying angel. David built an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite where he saw the angel of the Lord (2 Sam 24:1–25; cf. 1 Chron 21:1–30), and David proclaimed the house of the Lord would be built there (1 Chron 22:1).

1 Chronicles rushes through Israel’s history, primarily in genealogies in 1 Chron 1–10 and recounts David’s kingship in 1 Chron 11–20. The book then slows down to focus on David’s interest in the temple in 1 Chron 21–29. David instructed Solomon and Israel to build the temple and how to build it. Then David made Solomon king (1 Chron 22:2–23:1). David organized the Levites (1 Chron 23:2–32), priests (1 Chron 24:1–31), musicians (1 Chron 25:1–30), and gatekeepers (1 Chron 26:1–19).

From the above, we can see a couple of practical lessons.

First, David once said, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 ESV). As he knew from his involvement with the temple, however—planning it but not building it—sometimes the means whereby God has for us to live out the desires of our hearts is not always as we planned.

But, second, given David’s sin with the census and God’s having Solomon build the temple due to David’s bloodshed, God is nonetheless gracious to grant and fulfill our hearts’ desires in His own way in spite of our sins and circumstances.

Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings: David, Part 9

This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings

While David was a great king in many ways, we have seen that David was not perfect and that his sins affected his kingdom for the worse. One of the punishments for his sin with Bathsheba was that David would have evil against him in his house. In carrying out this theme further from last week, we will look at Joab and Adonijah, two men in David’s house who were evil from time to time.

First, we see that David’s nephew (cf. 1 Chron 2:13–16) Joab vengefully murdered multiple people. Joab murdered Abner to avenge the death of his brother Asahel (2 Sam 3:26–30). Then, Joab killed Absalom against David’s orders (2 Sam 18:1–8). Finally, Joab killed Amasa, his own cousin (cf. 1 Chron 2:17). Absalom had set Amasa over his army (2 Sam 17:25), Amasa was kept as general by David (2 Sam 19:13), and Joab murdered him in order to take back his position over David’s army (2 Sam 19:41–20:23).

Solomon becomes king

Second, we see that David’s fourth son Adonijah attempted to usurp the throne. Seeing that David was old and near death, Adonijah conspired with others to usurp the throne (1 Kgs 1:1–10). Nathan and Bathsheba approached David about Adonijah and asked for Solomon to be declared king (1 Kgs 1:11–26). David confirmed Solomon to be king, sent out a procession to do so, and Adonijah was granted mercy by Solomon (1 Kgs 1:27–53).

The deaths of these men go together. After David’s death, Adonijah requested to marry David’s concubine Abishag. Along with being Solomon’s older brother and his alliance with Abiathar and Joab, this was an attempt to take the throne again. For this, Solomon put Adonijah to death (1 Kings 2:13–25). Linked to Adonijah’s conspiracy, Joab pled for mercy but was likewise put to death (1 Kings 2:28–35). As with other areas in life, violence can come back to haunt the aggressor. “The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just” (Proverbs 21:7 ESV).

Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings: David, Part 1

This entry is part 10 of 20 in the series Virtue and Vice: Lessons from the Kings

The life of David is covered in 1 Sam 16–31,  2 Sam 1–24, 1 Kgs 1–2, and 1 Chron 11–29, 61 chapters in all, which is over 5% of the Bible’s 1,189 chapters. Add his 73 psalms to this number (now 134 chapters), and David is the author or focus of 11.3% of the Bible’s chapters. Likewise, Moses is the author and focus of 188 chapters, 15.8% of the Bible’s chapters.  Only Jesus enjoys more of a focus in the Bible as it is Him to whom the OT points (in part through the life of David) and about Him that the NT records, explains, and anticipates.

In covering many themes from David’s life, the first we will explore is David’s Succession to King Saul (1 Sam 16–31). Though anointed but not yet king, David served and then ran from Saul. Others accepted David as king, including Saul’s son Jonathan.

Within 1 Sam 16–31, we see the sub-theme that David was better than Saul. David was shown to be, as God said to Saul, “better than you” (1 Sam 15:28; cf. 13:14; 16:7; 24:71; 28:17), meaning one who had a heart to obey the Lord. Though chosen by Samuel to replace Saul as king (1 Sam 16:1–13), David found himself under Saul for a time, showing him to be better than his predecessor in multiple ways:

  1. He had the Spirit and calmed Saul’s harmful spirit (1 Sam 16:13–23).
  2. He fought Goliath while Saul watched on (1 Sam 17:1–58).
  3. Saul tried to kill David, but the Lord made David successful (1 Sam 18:6–16).
  4. Though Saul married off Merab and tried to kill off David by having him kill Philistines, David persevered and married Michal (1 Sam 18:17–30).
  5. David repaid Saul’s evil with good by sparing his life in a cave in Engedi, took only a part of his robe, and swore that he would not cut off Saul’s offspring. Saul left (1 Sam 24:1–22).
  6. pursued again by Saul, David took his spear and water jug, returned to his camp, and spoke with Saul from a distance. Saul acknowledged his sin and left (1 Sam 26:1–25).
  7. While willing to fight and keep his alliance with Achish, David was providentially hindered from fighting Saul by the mistrust of the Philistines and having to rescue his people and possessions from the Amalekites who attacked Ziklag in his absence (1 Sam 28:1–30:31). It was here that many men joined to David (1 Chron 12:1–22).

From these examples, we learn some easily stated yet invaluable lessons from David:

  1. God knows our hearts.
  2. God rewards those who set their hearts after His own.
  3. We express a heart matched to His own through faithfulness to Him.

May we keep these truths in mind and live as David did, one whose faithfulness stemmed from a heart that followed after God’s own.

An Overview of 1 & 2 Kings

2015.04.16 hebrew bible

A Focus on 1 & 2 Kings

These books were originally one and were broken into two for the sake of having two, manageable scrolls. They are named for their primary characters, the kings of Israel.

These books trace the history of Israel from the kingship of David (approximately 960–920 B.C.) to Jehoiachin, whose release from prison was in 560 B.C. The writing of the Kings took place shortly thereafter and probably by someone exiled in Babylon.

Three periods are found in the history of the kings: the united kingdom under David and Solomon (1 Kings 1–11); the divided kingdom until northern Israel’s captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C. (1 Kings 122 Kings 17); and the remaining southern kingdom until its captivity by Babylon in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 18–25).

Within this history, focus is given to the actions of the kings, the role of the prophets who exhorted Israel and her kings according to the Mosaic Law and revelation of God, the repeated disobedience of Israel and her kings, and the consequences that came as a result.

A key passage in the book records Solomon’s prayer for Israel to be rescued if the nation should be taken captive due to disobedience (1 King 8:4–53; cf. 8:12–53). This prayer gives hope for the reader when seeing northern Israel being taken captive by Assyria (2 Kings 17:6–23) and Judah (southern Israel) being taken captive by Babylon (2 Kings 25:1–30). God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for an enduring nation would not fail.

1 & 2 Kings within the Bible

The kings leave us desperately hopeful for a greater king to come (Jesus Christ), especially in light of God’s covenant to David (2 Sam 7:8–16). Within the stories of the kings, we see that “these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. . . they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:6, 11).

Recommended Reading

For further study of the book as a whole, see the introduction for the book above in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). For a brief overview of the use of the above book in the Bible as a whole, see the entry for the book above in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000).