When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the LORD may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ (1 Kings 2:1-4)
Show Yourself a Man
David is about to die and the aged warrior has specific words for his son. He tells him to be strong and show himself to be a man. This closely resembles Moses’ words as he handed over the reigns of leadership of God’s people to the younger Joshua (Joshua 1:6-9). He charges Solomon as a warrior would charge any successor, but he ties it to obedience to God. David adds, “…and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses.” I love what Randy Stinson says here:
David was clear in this message to Solomon. Strong, masculine leadership is tied to obedience. That means doing what God requires even if it doesn’t seem to offer any practical benefits.
While Solomon clearly doesn’t become a picture of strong, masculine leadership, tied to the obedience of God (he disobeys almost every command given to the king in Deuteronomy (1 Kings 9-11), the man after God’s own heart gave him the right charge and aimed him in the right direction. Not only did he aim his son in the right direction, but he pointed his son to God’s covenant as well. God made a covenant with David (2 Samuel 7), and David repeats it in Solomon’s hearing in this passage. The connection of obedience to God’s covenant with his people was critical. God had given clear instructions and if they were followed, blessings would be abundant, but if they were ignored or disobeyed, there would be horrific consequences.
Thanks be to God that the fulfillment of the covenant with David was none other than Jesus Christ, the God-man, the perfect son, the righteous king. The fulfillment of God’s covenant was dependent upon God, not on man. It is because of Jesus Christ that fathers can offer their sons the same charge with hope, knowing that their sons, like Solomon, will be wicked. They will disobey. They will forget the law of God. They will have moments of obedience and greatness, but ultimately, their success in masculine leadership is dependent upon Jesus as he redeems their hearts and makes them into new men. Manhood is not merely tied to a list of attributes and qualities anymore. It is tied to the covenant king, Jesus Christ.
I am thankful for my dad, who has lived his life, truly, after God’s own heart. My dad taught me the value of working hard, playing hard, doing your best, shaking hands like a man, wearing a tie to something important, and that men shouldn’t wear pink. But he also taught me that my significance shouldn’t come from what I do, who likes or dislikes me, the amount of money I make, where I live, or how “successful” I am. My significance comes from my identity in Jesus Christ, and my responsibility to be strong and show myself a man is tied to my obedience to God, and that may or may not always occur, so I trust in Christ that he will continue to work in my heart to fulfill his covenant and make me new and I look to my sons and pray that God will save them from me and make them men after his heart like their grandpa. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.