“King David Playing the Harp,” by Gerard van Honthorst (1622)
This week, we are studying the reigns of King David and King Solomon. Here are some of the major themes:
The City of David (2 Samuel 5-7)
Jerusalem has deep symbolic significance. Soon after David became king, he took possession of the city, made it the capitol of Israel, and renamed it “the city of David.” It was also known as Zion. (See 2 Samuel 5:7.)
When Jesus Christ visited the American continent, he prophesied that a city called the New Jerusalem would be built just prior to His Second Coming. (See 3 Nephi 20:22, 3 Nephi 21:23-24.) Here are a couple of blog posts about the significance of this city to David and for us:
David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12)
Even though David was king, he was not above the law. When he committed a serious set of crimes—adultery followed by murder—the prophet Nathan held him accountable. In one of the most dramatic passages in the Old Testament, Nathan describes a crime similar to David’s. When the king becomes angry and decrees the ultimate penalty for the unnamed offender, Nathan responds, “Thou art the man.” (See 2 Samuel 12:1-10.)
To David’s credit, he acknowledged his sin and sought the Lord’s forgiveness. Some of his expressions of remorse and pleas for reconciliation appear in the book of Psalms, and a few of those are duplicated in the book of 2 Samuel. Here are two examples of those heartfelt pleas:
- David described his despair and torment as “the cords of death.” (See Psalm 18:4, NIV, Psalm 116:3, NIV, 2 Samuel 22:6, NIV.) Joseph Smith taught that eternal relationships can overcome those powerful feelings of despair: “Stronger than the Cords of Death”.
- David sometimes felt like God was hiding from him behind a pavilion. (See Psalm 18:11, 2 Samuel 22:12.) Joseph Smith referenced this same imagery to describe his feelings of abandonment in Liberty Jail: Pavilion.
Solomon’s Deepest Desire (1 Kings 3)
When God asked Solomon what he most desired, he didn’t ask for riches, health, or military might. Instead, he requested “an understanding heart.” God gave him what he asked, but also promised him many blessings he had not requested. (See 1 Kings 3:1-15.) The other blessings followed naturally from the first. No wonder Solomon later wrote, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her” (Proverbs 4:7-8).
The Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 8)
David wanted to build a permanent house for the Lord, but the Lord did not allow it. (See 2 Samuel 7.) Instead, his son, Solomon, had the privilege of building the first temple. Solomon’s dedicatory prayer (1 Kings 8) established a pattern for future temple dedications. Joseph Smith followed this pattern when he dedicated the Kirtland Temple. (See Doctrine and Covenants 109.)
Both of those dedicatory prayers feature a plea for rapid reconciliation when God’s people turn away from Him. See the following post about this supplication: “Any of Them”
A Kingdom Divided (1 Kings 11)
During Solomon’s reign, he struggled to keep his kingdom united. After his death, the northern ten tribes broke away and formed their own kingdom, which they called Israel. The remaining tribes became known as the kingdom of Judah. Here is a blog post about the significance of this schism and the fate of those who broke away: