Ah, a new year ushers in a brand new phase of Bible Study. I love it, I really do, just being able to open up a new study guide, meet new people. It’s great. It’s all the excitement of starting a new school year without roasting in your brand-new school clothes (and too-tight shoes) that you really should have saved until fall but you insist on wearing right away, well, ’cause they’re new.
This year we’re studying the divided kingdom and the minor prophets, so don’t be surprised if you see posts heavily influenced by the happenings in I & II Kings.
I should start out by saying that I love the Old Testament. Where else could you get away with the “man after God’s own heart “having a young virgin by his side to keep him warm in his old age? If this doesn’t completely undergird your belief that the Bible is the best book ever, I don’t know what will. All that to say, I Kings opens up with David being old, some scholars suggest that he’s in his 70’s here.
This is a man who has seen and endured so much throughout his lifetime, from fighting lions and bears, and literal giants to being pursued by his best-friend’s father for years. He endures the death of his son by a wife who was garnered through deception and death. His own son issues a plot against him to overtake his throne and in so combating this plot, his son is killed, and this is just the half of it. We could close right here and just skip to the NT, really, because we learn so much through David’s examples of strength, faith, failures, victories and sheer pain, but the Bible doesn’t stop there, so neither do we. The sun may be setting on David’s reign over Israel, but that doesn’t mean his work is done. Now is the time to prepare his son, Solomon, the man who will rule over the nation of Israel, the man who God promised would be David’s successor and the man who would achieve grander scales of wealth, prosperity, safety, wisdom and knowledge greater than any kingdom before.
And you ask yourself:
How do I raise a son/daughter like that?
To choose wisdom and knowledge over riches and achievement?
To follow after God with their whole heart?
To choose obedience over sacrifice?
To move all that head knowledge of the books of the Bible, the names of Joseph’s brothers, how many commandments there are and push it right down into their little hearts and have the Word Made Flesh spill out there?
Because that is what we all want, right?
Believe me, if I had the formula, I’d bottle it up and give it to you in package form, but I will share with you the words that David, the dad, had for his son.
You see, the first chapter of I Kings starts off with a plot to overtake the throne, a plot by David’s 4th son, Adonijah. I guess because David was creeping up in years, Adonijah thought he could pull a fast one on his father. So much so, that he’s pretty brazen about it, he basically assumes the role of king by getting the high priests to support him, having a huge feast and inviting all the important people–and all of his brothers, except, of course, Solomon, and pretty much just assumes the role of king. However, the prophet Nathan learns of this, prompts Bathsheba to talk to David directly and they make their own plans to set Solomon, the rightful heir, upon the throne. Adonijah hears of this and pleads for mercy and is allowed to stay alive as long as he obeys Solomon.
Chapter 2 opens with the words,
“When the time drew near for David to die he gave a charge to Solomon his son.”
“I am about to go the way of all the earth, ” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.”
I love those first few words, “be strong, show yourself a man…”
We witness those scenes in movies, even read about them in books, but this charge is followed up with specific instructions: honoring and obeying God, keeping his commands. It’s just that simple, and we often want to make it more complicated than it has to be, I think it’s because we as Christians allow ourselves to get sucked into what the world’s definition of masculinity and success is: making a ton of money, being in charge, making our own way. Sure, I admire people like Donald Trump and Kobe Bryant to a certain degree. They know their subject matter, they’ve been around the block more than a few times, but these aren’t our fathers, grandfathers, best friends, husbands, they are men that have been elevated in other people’s eyes. Both of my grandfathers were men to whom I can look back and say, certainly, that they would have uttered the same last instructions out of their mouth that David would have. They were not rich, neither one of them had a college degree, but they were incredibly wealthy in that legacy of godliness that they left behind, and for that, all the money in the world could not replace.
Love the godly men in your life, respect and honor them, and above all: listen to them.