King David died of old age at 70. The only malady the Bible mentions regarding David in his old age is the inability to stay warm (1 Kings 1:1). The Bible says he “slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David” (1 Kings 2:10).
On the night before David’s death, he gave advice and instruction to his son Solomon, who would succeed him as king over Israel
“I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 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: That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.” 1 Kings 2:2–4
David’s deathbed speech began with positive spiritual counsel but ended with dark warnings. He cautioned Solomon that the Lord’s promise of a continuing dynasty was conditioned on the faithfulness of his descendants. After that, David instructed Solomon to deal with a few items of unfinished business: the murders committed by Joab were to be avenged, the sons of Barzillai were to be repaid for their loyalty, and Shimei was to be punished for cursing David during Absalom’s rebellion. The dying king expressed confidence in his son’s wisdom, trusting that Solomon would know the best way to handle these matters. David’s final words in Scripture are followed by a formal notice of the king’s death and burial, a custom seen regularly in the historical books (1 Kings 2:10–12).
The book of 1 Chronicles expands on the end of David’s life: “Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel. And the time that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.” 1 Chronicles 29:26–28
Before he died, King David gave a charge to Solomon, “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: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9
Then David left Solomon with detailed instructions for building the temple in Jerusalem, organizing its priests and Levites, and finishing all the work needing to be done in the Lord’s house of worship (verses 11–19).
1 Chronicles 28 records the words of King David as he prepared to hand his throne to Solomon:
“And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. And, behold, the courses of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skilful man, for any manner of service: also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment.” 1 Chronicles 28:20–21
God blessed King David with a long and prosperous life. He survived a battle with a giant, multiple attempts by King Saul to murder him, various wars, and a coup led by one of his own sons. In the end, he died of old age. Scripture leaves no doubt that David was of sound mind when he died. Knowing his death was imminent, David was able to give support and guidance to his heir and successor. Despite his many faults, David was admired and respected as a hero by the people of Israel. His dedication to God, loyalty in the face of ill-treatment, courage in war, benevolence in conquest, and faithfulness in friendship were so extraordinary that he would forever be viewed as an ideal king and a man after God’s own heart.