“I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.” (1 Kings 2:2)
When King David was about to die, his successor was somewhat in doubt. David had promised that Solomon would take the throne, but David had not taken steps to ratify his promise to make Solomon his heir. So while things hung in the balance, Solomon’s younger brother Adonijah took action to claim the throne for himself (1 Kings 1:5). Due to the quick action of Bathsheba and Nathan the prophet, they persuaded David to establish Solomon as King before he died.
The primary thing David challenges Solomon with is: to “be a man” (1 Kings 2:2). It has the sense of: “becoming or to exist”. In some ways it has the idea of: “become who you are to be”. The NAS version translates this as “show yourself to be a man”.
What does it mean to be a man?
That is a pretty tough question for sure. In our world this is complicated. With no cultural moral compass, and the titanic issues related to the deterioration of marriage, the emasculation of men in general, combined with a strong woman’s movement seeking equality, complicated by gender identity issues, it is hard to figure out what it means to be a man, in the world we live in today.
Sometimes old realities can breathe new life into worn out cultures. Even better, with so much confusion about what it means to be a man, it is invaluable to have God’s voice on things. We believe that even though God records human history with all its imperfections and blemishes, there is a chance we can still hear God’s voice through the noise of opinions that surround us. Listen to David’s advice to his son:
“And keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that the LORD may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'” (1 Kings 2:2-4 NAS)
Now this, of course, won’t matter to the world because they have abandoned the idea of defining manhood in relationship to the God who created mankind. But for the Christian, those deeply committed to following Christ and honoring God, this outlines our priorities for becoming a true man (of God) even in our 21st century existence:
- Submitting to the LORD our God is the first priority of being a true man. Most men define their “manhood” as being independent, self-determining, and captain of his own destiny. For the Christian, being a man begins with relationship with God and submission to Him.
- “Walk in His ways” is the second priority of being a man. It takes great courage these days for a man to have the fortitude to submit to God’s way of doing things. We all want to “leave our legacy” rather than embracing God’s legacy. This means obeying God’s Word and following His wisdom, not ours.
- A godly man finds success in doing things God’s way. I had a friend that had the approach that if God had to ask you to do something for Him then we really are not acting in love towards Him. He was working from the paradigm of marriage that a man ought to anticipate and take the initiative to do what best nurtures his wife. In his mind, this was the only picture of acting in love. In many ways that is not a bad approach to marriage. But his struggle came when anyone said that “God prodded me” or “the Spirit of God put it on my heart to talk with you” he made the assumption that the person had no interest in really getting together and God “had to tell” him do it. I believe he created a false alternative because he never allowed God to lead; he was always proving his love.
- A godly man lives believing that God will carry out and be faithful to His promises to him. A godly man obeys God because he believes that God will honor His Word. If we don’t believe that God is faithful then we have little or no genuine motivation to obey His Word. We might do it out of duty but that will not produce life, just conformity to a system.
- A godly man desires to leave a Legacy by modeling obedience so that others, especially his children, will learn to embrace a living faith with God. All the success in the world cannot compensate for the absence of genuine faith in God. The great struggle of the Christian walk is often: how to build a legacy to our children. Sometimes we think our best legacy is financial inheritance but what good does money do for those who ultimately have rejected Christ for gaining the things of this world. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being motivated to live life so that our children can see faith in action.
David’s encouragement to Solomon is still appropriate: “strengthen yourself and show yourself to be a man.”
In His grace,