When David was approximately 70 years old and about to die he gave his son Solomon this challenge in 1 Kings 2:2-3, “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.”
David was on his deathbed. What was most pressing on his heart as he knew that his days were numbered? What would I want to pass on to my loved ones if I were in a similar position? I can only imagine how important these last words were to David and how important they should have been to Solomon. A dying man doesn’t waste words.
Three things stood out to me as I contemplated this passage. The first is noticing that the word “strong” can refer to “strength of character” and not physical strength. The role of king would require great strength of character. David is reminding Solomon of this priority over physical strength and power. He also is tying character to God’s Word. Character comes from faithfulness.
The second observation is the description “show yourself a man.” The ESV Study Bible observes that this is “an idiom that refers primarily to conducting oneself bravely (cf. 1 Sam. 4:9; 1 Cor. 16:13), as defined specifically here within the framework of faithful adherence to the Mosaic law; it will take bravery for Solomon to lead the people faithfully.” In addition to character, Solomon would need to reject passivity and lead courageously through living out God’s will instead of his own! Courage comes from faithfulness to God’s Word.
Finally, David told Solomon to “keep the charge.” This is a reference to staying within the will of God. Deut. 17:18-20 describes the expectations of a king of Israel as follows,
“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”
David knew that Solomon’s character and courage would come from his commitment to be faithful to God’s Word. Father, may I heed David’s charge in my own life. May you give me strength of character as I obey your Word. May I live with a courageous obedience. May I accept the charge to live out my faith obediently to your Word. May I “BE THE MESSAGE.”
Father in addition, I pray all of these things for my family as well. May we be examples of those who have character, courage and commitment to your Word.
Following Jesus with you,