So yesterday I was finishing up my second draft of the Bathsheba story. And I came to the scene where David called Solomon to his bedside to charge him with various “after I’m gone” tasks. And as I read through 1 Kings chapter 2, I couldn’t help chuckling, because in my mind I kept seeing Marlon Brandon, his cheeks stuffed with cotton, saying, “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai . . . ” Read on, and see what you think:
David’s Final Instructins to Solomon
2 As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:
2 “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. 3 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. 4 If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them wil always sit on the throne of Israel.’
5 “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace,[a] staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood.[b] 6 Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.[c]
7 “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom.
8 “And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. 9 But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.[d]”
10 Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.
I’m sorry, but can’t you just see David as some sort of Israelite mafioso?
The more I write historical fiction, the more I realize that people really don’t change. We all love, lust, hate, tease, fly into rages, hold resentments, and have flaws. Yes, even David, “the man after God’s own heart” could be a real rascal. He was far from saintly–he murdered, lied, lusted (a lot!), schemed, and ignored his children. He held grudges with the best of them, and let’s not even talk about the way he treated his wives and multiple concubines. Sigh.
But God still loved him and his son Solomon. Because even though David was as human as the weakest of us, he still loved God. When he did wrong, he repented, and then he tried to make things right.
I’m enjoying this story more than I thought I would, and learning more than I expected to. 🙂 And since I have at least three more drafts to go, so I’d better get back to work.