Can we agree that God used King David to inspire several generations? He continues to touch generations through the Psalms that he has written. I wonder, however, if he had in mind saving the Psalms as an encouragement for his children and a legacy for generations to come. Although most of them demonstrate praise and worship, there are also those that talk about pilgrimage, petitioning God, or confessing a lament. They are a picture of David's relationship with God that shows us transparency and honesty. Psalm 139, for example, was written when David was contemplating God's love for him in the way he was made. He expressed contempt for God's enemies, and yet realized that he could have had sin in his own life. So, he invited God to search and know his heart. "...Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting." (Verses 23-24)
When David was coming to the end of his life he appointed his son, Solomon, to be king over Israel and to oversee the building of a temple for the Lord. He gave a charge to Solomon: "...Be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to Him, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep His promises to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their hearts and souls, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.'" (1 King 2:2-4)
In David's desire for his son to succeed, he spoke words of advice directly to Solomon and left the Psalms for him to read. Because he asked God for wisdom, Solomon became the wisest man on earth; however, he had a soft spot that would become his undoing. 1 Kings 11 tells us that he loved many foreign women. "They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, 'You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.' Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love." (1 Kings 11:2)
The Bible reports, "So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely as David his father had done." (1 Kings 11:6) Solomon's behavior was so offensive that God raised up adversaries against him so that the end of his life was fraught with battles. When he died, his son, Rehoboam, was appointed king. What kind of legacy did this father leave for his son? There is the written legacy through the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, but his actions did not agree with his written words. His legacy was one of idol worship; the demonstration of his love for God was not obvious to Rehoboam. When he began his reign over Israel, the Kingdom was torn from his hands because he followed the wrong path of leadership. Rehoboam lost the loyalty of ten tribes of Israel. Idol worship became the trademark of his day.
We could continue to look down the family line of David to see how each successive son behaved. Needless-to-say, the legacy of a father can impact generations for good or bad. Our prayer for our fathers and men who have influence on subsequent generations should be for them to develop a heart like God's. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians, "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His Kingdom and glory." (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) Paul's heart toward those he visited was like God's heart of love toward us. All of us can develop this kind of heart as we connect with the Lord in greater intimacy with Him to leave a legacy of love.
Joan E. Mathias