David’s Advice to Future Kings
Famous last words—parting advice from one king to the next—that God’s royal young people should heed.

You are about to be king. That is really hard to imagine. If you can grasp it, though, unless you’re just a power-hungry control freak, you probably feel at least a little overwhelmed at the idea. If only you could get some sound advice from someone experienced at the job.

This is where Prince Solomon found himself toward the end of King David’s life. But this is also the place you are in—as princes and princesses within the literal begotten royal Family of God. God’s people are on the brink of ascending to thrones, an aspect of God’s plan that we celebrate each year at the Feast of Tabernacles. Your potential is to be spiritual monarchs just like your parents. God says you are, right now, princes and princesses! (Psalm 45:9, 16).

Why Listen to David?

Just as the Bible records more details about David’s life than any human being other than Christ, it also records more about his last words. The famous “last words of David” found in 2 Samuel 23 are not the only parting thoughts from this king. Several passages scattered throughout the former prophets and the book of Chronicles share David’s advice as given directly to Solomon.

This advice is recorded in God’s Word so we can take and apply it ourselves. All this parting wisdom will show us what it takes to be a godly and successful king—a truth that can be intimidating.

Part of the intimidation Solomon undoubtedly faced was living up to his father’s impressive résumé as a monarch. As king, David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites and set it up as his capital, he brought the ark to Jerusalem, he survived multiple coup plots, and he prepared for the building of the first temple both financially and organizationally, among other accomplishments.

Those were big shoes for Solomon to fill.

We find ourselves in a similar position: God’s faithful end-time remnant is destined to share the throne of David with Jesus Christ (compare Luke 1:31-33 and Revelation 3:21). When sharing that throne, we will be spirit beings, not subject to the same human weaknesses David was. Still, we must be preparing now to follow in such great footsteps as those of King David. After all, we know that God calls him “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).

Follow in Father’s Footsteps

David was such an iconic king that the measure of a king’s success after him depended on how much he followed in David’s footsteps. After David, only a handful of righteous kings ruled Judah. Whenever a king was righteous, he is marked with a certain distinction in the Bible.

Notice that in the case of this king: “Josiah … did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left” (2 Chronicles 34:1-2). The next verse says Josiah sought the “God of David his father” in the eighth year of his reign.

Imagine being such a righteous king that God doesn’t just say, You walked in the ways of your great-great-great-great-…-grandfather David; He says, You walked in the ways of your father David. God said Josiah “walked in the ways of David his father,” as if Josiah were a direct son of David—taught at his feet. Josiah followed David’s advice as if he were David’s own son—whereas Solomon acted little like a son of David at times.

Hezekiah is another king mentioned as walking “according to all that David his father had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2). Hezekiah established an orchestra exactly after the manner of his father David (verses 25-27).

It was a real credit to Josiah and Hezekiah that they followed David so meticulously. We, too, should strive to become experts in how David did things.

Rule in the Fear of God

By the end of his illustrious life, David had many lessons to share with humanity, and thankfully, he had already recorded many of them (of the psalms, 75 have his name on them, and at least eight more were definitely written by him—as other passages corroborate). 2 Samuel 23 details some of David’s “last words,” which offered final advice to his son and future king.

David’s last official statement is advice to a future king: “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3). To fear God means to respect, have reverence for, and be in awe of God. However, the word “fear” can also mean dread or terror—the fear we ultimately experience if we decide to turn away from God. The proper fear of God is something we can only learn through applying God’s commandments.

Fearing God is a prerequisite for being a godly leader. When Moses appointed leaders to assist him in judging Israel, he chose “able men, such as fear God” (Exodus 18:21). Godly leaders recognize God as their leader first of all.

Nehemiah criticized rulers who did not fear God (Nehemiah 5:15)—stating that their offense was being “chargeable unto the people.” That word in the Hebrew means heavy, grievous and hard. But because they fear God, godly leaders do not rule that way. They treat people with the same kindness and mercy that God their Ruler shows them.

Every year, God’s people go to the Feast of Tabernacles to “learn to fear the Lord thy God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23). Attending God’s Feast of Tabernacles should put us in awe of God!

Learn How to Build Spiritually

2 Samuel 23 is not the only place that we can find David’s parting advice to Solomon. In 1 Chronicles 22, he instructed Solomon to build for God. This may seem specific to Solomon, but there are things we can apply from this advice: “Now, my son, the Lord be with thee; and prosper thou, and build the house of the Lord thy God, as he hath said of thee” (verse 11).

So what was David’s advice for building the house? Did it have to do with specific measurements or materials? No, it primarily had to do with Solomon’s character! “Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed. … Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee” (verses 12-13, 16).

David pointed Solomon back to Moses: Obey God’s law; be strong, courageous and not fearful in the sinful sense; then get to work. If you work for God, He will work for you!

To rule in the future with Jesus Christ, we must know how to build spiritually. To build anything properly, David says, it must be based on the law of God. That is how we prosper today and how the world will prosper tomorrow. We will point people to the same law God gave Moses. Imagine a world where every commandment, statute and judgment is obeyed!

In verses 17-19 David admonished his princes to “help Solomon his son.” This is what he charged them: “Is not the Lord your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side? for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before the Lord, and before his people. Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the Lord God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the Lord” (verses 18-19).

Consider those admonitions. Set your heart on seeking God—the Lord “your God.” Make Him real to you—make Him your God. Arise (as David told Solomon)—literally to stand. We must, as “princes of Israel,” stand up for God. And then build.

In 1 Chronicles 28, David reminded Solomon—before a national delegation of Levites, priests and princes—that Solomon was heir to the throne and would be the king charged with building God’s house. In verse 10, he told Solomon, “be strong, and do it.”

In this end time, God’s people built a physical house for God. More importantly, we’ve been chosen to build and serve as pillars in God’s future temple forever (Revelation 3:12). The temple, as described in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel, shows that those who are loyal to God in this end time will rule from that temple. As editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet: “Ezekiel’s temple will house God’s kings and priests in the wonderful World Tomorrow. They will serve a world comprised of physical human beings, and every single person will look to this temple for leadership.”

Serve God First

In 1 Chronicles 28, David said: “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts …” (verse 9). David knew well that God looks on the heart. That’s why he wanted Solomon to serve God with a perfect heart.

Serve God, David said. Serving is a key attribute of being a godly monarch. Without the desire to serve, a king inevitably becomes a tyrant. Christ is a servant-king. He “ever liveth to make intercession” for His subjects (Hebrews 7:25). But we serve God first.

We must serve God with a perfect heart and willing mind. “Perfect” here means complete. “Willing” means desiring and having pleasure in.

We must heed David’s advice and develop an intense desire and yearning to give ourselves wholly to serving God. Appropriately, the Feast of Tabernacles is replete with opportunities to serve. But it’s not just about serving, but also about the attitude with which we serve. God searches our hearts, and He knows exactly what our attitudes are.

The remainder of 1 Chronicles 28:9 reads: “[I]f thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” This is a grave warning from David to a future king that we must always seek God and never forget Him. For a large part of his reign, Solomon did not heed this warning. However, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs indicate that Solomon repented and returned to God in his old age.

We are in a time when God may be found if we seek Him (Isaiah 55:6).

Guard God’s Law

Another passage that covers some of David’s parting advice to Solomon is found in 1 Kings 2.

There, David exhorted Solomon to “be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man” (verse 2). In the next verse, David continues the thought: “And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself” (verse 3).

This passage contains the secret to success as a king: Keep the law of God, study it, and be strong and have courage in it. To keep the charge of God means to guard or protect His law. That is a step beyond merely observing it. It is an admonition to stand up for God’s law and not tolerate its abuse. Studying God’s Word is a trait of a godly king. In Deuteronomy 17:18-20, kings were commanded to copy out the Pentateuch and keep the book with them to study and apply. Proverbs 25:2 says that “the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”

This admonition rings true for us too! The deeper we have studied into the Bible and obeyed God’s Word in full, the more God and Jesus Christ will be able to delegate to us when we rule under them (Luke 19).

Final Prayer for a Future King

The inspired inscription at the beginning of Psalm 72 says: “A Psalm for Solomon.” This musical composition—probably David’s last (verse 20)—contains more golden advice for future kings.

In verse 1, David prayed that God would give the future king of Israel, his son, God’s judgments and righteousness. David knew that any future king would need these qualities to judge God’s people (verse 2). Godly rulers are not selfish dictators, because they know that the people they judge are God’s. Solomon’s reign was a type of Jesus Christ’s future reign, so God gave the nation great peace during his time as king (verse 3; see also 1 Chronicles 22:9).

Psalm 72 is also a prophecy about Christ’s future reign, which was meant to inspire Solomon in how to lead. It must inspire us as we prepare for these positions of rulership!

Verse 4 reads: “He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.” David wanted to be sure Solomon knew how to treat people. Godly kings actually look out for those who might otherwise be overlooked (see also verses 12-14).

Christ lived this way during His earthly ministry. He was interested in children, holding them and blessing them. He looked out for the diseased and conversed with sinners considered by many to be social pariahs. And He was moved with compassion for the multitudes (Matthew 9:36).

He will extend this same lovingkindness when ruling as king of the Earth. Since your potential is to become a coheir with Christ at baptism, you must also learn to rule this way.

We must learn to care for all people without respect of persons. Again, that means serving our subjects. David was teaching this principle to Solomon. Christ taught the same thing to His disciples (Matthew 20:26; 23:11). When subjects can tell that their ruler really cares for all of them, they “shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations” (Psalm 72:5). That type of leadership inspires God’s people!

A Poetic Picture

“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth” (verses 6-7). We have God’s government and reign in our lives now. Righteousness and peace must be flourishing and enduring in our lives.

This imagery is similar to the results of godly rule as listed in 2 Samuel 23—those “last words of David” discussed earlier. If a king rules justly in the fear of God, “he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth upon a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth” (verse 4; Revised Standard Version).

This is the kind of special ruler David wanted Solomon to be, and that God wants us to be. These last words from David describe your incredible human potential.

Follow the advice from David on how to be a godly king—as a righteous son of David would. Consider all the advice he gave: Fear God, obey God; be just and righteous; be outgoing and caring. Immerse your mind in God’s law and Word; be committed to it and protective of it. Stand up for it!

Heed this advice in preparation to committing your life to God, and one day soon, you will shine with brilliance as a successful, immortal, all-powerful king!