King David was our most vibrant and charismatic leader and fighter, so it's terribly surprising and upsetting to see this description of him. What could have happened to have changed him in such a negative way?
King David's age, 70, was not all that old for Biblical figures of the time. Those who died young, like that, were generally killed in battle. Illness as we know it today is rarely mentioned in the Bible, just blindness. And David is not described as blind, just old and cold.
א וְהַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד זָקֵן, בָּא בַּיָּמִים; וַיְכַסֻּהוּ, בַּבְּגָדִים, וְלֹא יִחַם, לוֹ. 1 Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he could get no heat.
Hebrew is a wonderful language, so let's look more carefully at what is written:
וַיְכַסֻּהוּ, בַּבְּגָדִיםtranslated as:
and they covered him with clothes
That English translation doesn't do justice to the Hebrew, because the letters in the word בְּגָדִים bigadim can have a very different meaning:
בוגדים bogdim, traitorsAnd this story takes place after the rebellions of King David's sons and the rape of Tamar and other tragedies, which are considered punishments for David's sins of sleeping with the married Batsheva and having her husband Uriah sent to die in battle.
KLing David did do teshuva, repented for this sin, but instead of feeling cleansed and resuming his position, he descends into a very serious depression. And that's where we find him here as the Book of Kings begins. He gets no warmth nor comfort from anything until the brave Natan, who had the guts to originally remind him of those sins suddenly reappears on the scene by sending Batsheva to David.
Suddenly we see the King David of old. Why?
Notice that King David suddenly mentions G-d and says that G-d has finally redeemed him. That is what David had been waiting for, a sign that his Teshuva had been accepted. King David had felt that without a clear notification/sign of forgiveness he could not have continued to function as the King of Israel.
If only today's leaders/politicians would care about what G-d commands and wants from us....