A Call to Strong Manhood
“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.” (1 Kgs 2:1–2)
As David nears death, he has one last opportunity to pass on wisdom to his son who will reign in his place. The first words out of David’s mouth are a call for Solomon to “be strong and show [himself] a man.” David knows what Solomon is going to be up against as the king, but before he advises Solomon on how to be a faithful king, he reminds Solomon that he is to be a faithful man of God.
In this stage of David’s life, he is at his weakest. He knows his time to die is drawing near. However, he wanted to leave his son with the wisdom he needed to be the man God has called him to, that he might be the king that he was destined to be.
David’s dying words should be a sobering reminder to all of us that the most important thing men can teach their sons is to be men of God. We can be encouraged by the life of king David because we know that he was an imperfect man and king. David had seasons in his life where he committed great sins. We also know that David was a man after God’s own heart who recognized his sinful ways and cried out to God in genuine repentance and faith.
David knew the grievous impact of his sin not only on himself, but on the people of God. He also knew his sin was most importantly against God. That is why as it comes to this final charge from David to Solomon, men of God should be comforted and challenged to make sure that we are being strong and showing ourselves to be men not only to our sons and daughters, but to the sons and daughters of God in his church.
David doesn’t leave his son in the dark when it comes to how he is to “be strong and show himself a man.” The dying king teaches his son the means to being a strong man.
The Means to Strong Manhood
David continues, “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” (1 Kgs 2:3).
David tells his son on his deathbed the way to be strong and show yourself a man is ultimately to live according to the Scriptures. First, David calls Solomon to “keep the charge of the LORD your God.” David knows that for his son to show himself a man he must follow the Lord’s commands. David knows he and his sons are imperfect kings, under the authority of the true King pointing to the coming King. Therefore, their number one priority is to submit to the rule and reign of the LORD their God.
Second, Solomon is to continue “walking in his ways.” The ways of the LORD are laid down in His Word, as we will see in his Law. Solomon then is to make sure that all of his conduct is in alignment with the Word of God.
Third, David wants Solomon to know that if he is to show himself a man, it will be by him “keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses.” There is only one way to be strong and to show yourself a man. This was true for Solomon, and it is true for men today. The means to manhood is knowledge of, trust in, and submission to the statutes, commandments, rules, and testimonies of God, which He has breathed out in His Word.
Here is where the problem lies. We know the rest of the story. We know that Solomon—like David—would fall short in this perfect obedience needed to show himself the strong man of God he was called to be. Solomon ultimately would be drawn away from God by fame, fortune, and females. Solomon the wisest king that ever lived, needed another Man to come and fulfill the Law of Moses, which he failed to keep. This is where we find ourselves. We know as men, as fathers, and as sons we all have sinned and fallen short of this perfect obedience that marks strong biblical manhood. What, then, are we to do?
We are to look to the God-man who was strong and showed himself to be the perfect man.
The Model of Strong Manhood
There is hope for all men. We know that David’s call to be strong men of God is true and right. We know that because we see similar calls throughout the New Testament. But we also know as men we fall short in teaching young men the scriptural standard for manhood. We also fall short in keeping this standard as well.
This is why Christ is our only hope. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17).
In short, Jesus carried out this call to manhood for us. He fulfilled this call to perfect obedience that all of God’s men might repent of their disobedience and trust in the perfect obedience of Christ. It is in Christ and Him alone that we can fulfill this call to “be strong and show yourself a man.”
Paul makes this crystal clear in Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
As men of God, we ought to take David’s charge to Solomon to heart. We do this, first, by repenting of our sin and trusting in the perfect Man, our King Christ Jesus. As we seek to live lives of faithful obedience in Him, we are to look to His Word, learn His ways, and live according to His commands. In doing so, we are to turn to the next generation of men and call them to “be strong and show themselves to be men” according to the Word of God, not the ways of the world.