by Dave Hinkley
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,’ (1 Kings 2:1–3)
Put yourself in Solomon’s place. The grief of losing a beloved father is tremendous, and Solomon has the added pressure of inheriting the anointed leadership of God’s covenant people. The creator of all things has chosen a people to whom he will reveal himself, and through whom he will restore all things to himself. He promised Eve that one of her descendants would defeat the enemy; He promised Abraham that all peoples of the world would be blessed by one of his descendants; He promised Israel that he would be their God and that he would forgive sins by an atonement; finally, he promised David that he or one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever. Solomon stands directly in this stream of promise as it goes forth and will be a part of their future for good or for ill.
The mantle of these promises are not light, and David is jealous that his son does not falter under the weight of them. David loves his son, and above all things he loves God. The weight of David’s heart for Solomon, as he parts from him, is that Solomon be strong and keep the charge of the Lord.
Not: take care of your mother. Not: love the people as I have loved them. Not: do justice and love mercy. Not: get wisdom (although you could argue that all those things are included in the phrase “keep the charge”). David feels compassion for his son mixed with great zeal to keep the covenant with God.
Solomon, you are facing a great responsibility, and if you have any intelligence, you are very afraid. Listen to your Dad: “Be strong and show yourself a man.” Manhood is proven as the weight of the responsibility is placed upon you. A boy will drop the weight, or drop under the weight. A man will, with the help of God, hold the weight. This is a great weight coming upon you Solomon, and my father’s heart wants to shore up your strength.
Solomon, nothing in your life is as important as the call to “Keep the charge of the Lord your God.” Whatever you do, do not neglect this charge. Look to the Word for guidance; you will know that you have successfully kept the charge if you have walked in God’s ways and kept God’s commandments. If you do so you will be blessed and God’s people will be safe and well ruled.
Notice that David does not say: “keep the charge of the Lord my God”; or even “our God”. Why? Because the weight of Solomon’s coming responsibility cannot be borne on the basis of someone else’s faith.
Solomon, if you don’t trust in God with all your heart, you will fail at the task ahead. Heretofore, God has blessed and cursed Israel because of what I did. Now he will bless and curse Israel for your faithfulness and unfaithfulness. Be faithful to God!
Three things I think we can take away from this account:
A life lived trusting in the Lord is the most important legacy to leave to future generations. In David’s words his love and compassion for his son are totally bound up in his desire to see the Lord brought honor. Why do we want our kids to follow the Lord? Because we love them so much! Disobedience only leads to grief so we do our best to teach them to follow Jesus.
A person will stand or fall by their own relationship with Jesus. We baptize, catechize, bring them to worship, pray, and tell them of “the glorious deeds of the Lord.” We must not neglect to exhort them to follow and obey. Trust is not borrowed. Salvation is by grace through faith. We have to call the next generation to place their trust in the Lord.
The success of God’s plan does not depend on your faithfulness. We know from Solomon’s life that the charge proved hard for him to keep. He failed badly, and yet God’s plans were not thwarted. In fact, God uses Solomon’s failure to bring himself more glory. This is a mysterious and wonderful thing about our God. He is able to take what is very bad and turn it into what is good. Are you suffering now? Do you have great sin in your past? Are you struggling to see the good in your present circumstances? Have faith! Our God is the one who turns hurt to comfort, guilt to boasting, and fear to hope.
Postscript: Solomon, at the end of his failure filled life and reign, having learned wisdom by pursuing folly, had these words to pass along to his sons (and to us):
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14)
Sounds like what his Dad said.