We live in a day and age where strong masculine leadership is lacking in our society. Men are needed to step up in the family, the church, local communities, and the culture at large to fulfill their calling from God. One of the great moments of biblical history is when King David is aging and the throne is about to be transferred to his son Solomon. David was known as a man after God’s own heart even as he needed grace like all of us (1 Samuel 13:14). He was a powerful warrior who had fearlessly gone into battle facing powerful enemies, mighty giants, and foreign kingdoms.
As he ages, he begins to charge his son Solomon who is preparing to take the throne. Men receiving such charges is not foreign to the pages of Scripture. The Apostle Paul also charged Timothy, his son in the faith, to carry the torch of ministry well in the next generation (see 1 and 2 Timothy, specifically 2 Timothy 4). God would come to Joshua as he was taking on the leadership role and Moses had even laid hands on the man previously (Deuteronomy 34:9). Point being, there is a special precedent in the Bible for men to receive charges before taking on grave responsibility. David looked directly at Solomon giving him such a moment as he prepared to become the king. A time when he would be commissioned into the task being solemnly directed to his responsibilities before God.
The Theological Backbone
“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, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”
-2 Kings 2:1-4
There is no doubt that as we unpack this particular charge it has hefty theological content. David is taking a tone of command at the start and he is in fact telling Solomon he must “keep the charge of the Lord your God.” Central to manhood and the fulfillment of one’s calling as a leader is obedience. It is a submission to God and to Christ. That is why we as the church are striving to grow up into mature “manhood” in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15). Solomon was to keep his eyes focused on God and the commandments of God as his guiding lamp. You cannot separate Solomon’s call as a man and as a king from the obedience toward God he is called to exhibit.
Yet, part of that obedience is also understanding the promise. This is where David mentions the “word that he spoke to me” referencing the promises of Almighty God. Solomon’s life was not to be the centerpiece of his mission. No, this man was stepping into God’s plan which had been set in motion long before he ever stepped foot on the earth. He was a man in a long line of men whom God would use for the specific purpose of bringing the Messiah into the world. Understanding the promise of God would have given Solomon the foothold he needed to move forward into his calling because he could know that God was in fact with him. God had already promised blessing. Solomon was to strive to be faithful in his charge knowing the promises God had made as His foundation.
There is another core component of theology that the text opens by giving. It is the call to “Be strong and show yourself a man” which sets the tone for everything else. Men are called by God to great strength. That is precisely the reason why Joshua is commanded over and over again to “be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-7, 1:9, 1:18). This goes back to the original calling of men to take dominion from the garden. That command of “taking dominion” which the woman helps the man in is an act of strength. A man is leading his wife and home to actually bring order and cultivation to the world God has made. Since we live in a fallen world now, there will be enemies opposing us. That is why faithful men need to be strong. They need to be strong to protect their families fulfilling the charge God has given. Strength is needed for fighting doctrinal warfare against false teachers. Providing for their families is another need which will take great strength. David knew that in the divine, masculinity and God-focused strength are to go together which is why being strong and the command to “show yourself a man” are side by side in this text. It is not a macho strength that David is calling on Solomon to exercise. Rather, he is to see God’s strength, God’s commands, God’s promise, and God’s purpose using his God-given strength as a man to serve the Lord!
After giving deep theology David moves into very practical instructions for King Solomon. He calls on him to exercise vengeance on Joab while showing favor to others who had been loyal (1 Kings 2:5-7). He was unafraid to move from theological commands to practical particulars. Men today need to be guided in the same way. They need to be urged to remember the big picture points of Scripture such as God’s eternal blessing through the Gospel, our responsibility to focus on Him, and all the core points of theology. Yet, they need to be brought to the nitty-gritty detail level of instruction. Paul took precisely the same approach with Timothy when he told him to “beware” of Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14-15).
Far too often today we live in the realm of the theoretical in masculinity without getting into the actual living of day-to-day life. For example, a young man needs to not only be taught about the goodness of marriage, he needs to be instructed on the practicalities of how to interact with a young woman. He needs to be shown the great calling of work while being pointed to mentors who can teach him a skillset to earn a living. It is good for a young man to learn basic skills like a firm handshake, eye contact, and how to speak in a mature way. All of this is simply taking the time to actually apply the theology we know to be true like David and Paul did with the next generation.
From this charge, we see an even more profound point and it is that men are expected to step up to the plate and lead. Timothy, Solomon, and Joshua were each commanded before God to demonstrate courage by actually leading the people to whom they were called. They were to take dominion as men called by God seeking to serve those around them to the glory of Christ. Men in our age need to become leaders in the family seeking to promote the biblically-defined flourishing of their households. They need to be engaged in the church, discipling others to mature in the faith. In their local communities and even in the nation as a whole they need to step up for the cause of righteousness. The call to manhood is a call to bear the responsibility before God leading well so that those whom the man is leading might be blessed under his care. They need to teach their wives in the study of the Word, train their children day-by-day, help their neighbors in the community, vote with wisdom, work hard in their vocation, and exercise their God-ordained leadership in every sphere.
There is a direct connection point for a man a deep to have a deep view of God, to know his own calling, and then by God’s grace, he will develop the blessing of wisdom to know how to apply truth day by day in all of life’s details as he grows. May we see a rise of men who are instructed by the overflowing well of truth in the pages of God’s Word beholding the glory of their Savior. Let us be men who are strong in the calling God has given to us seeking to live faithfully in our moment knowing the promises God has made before us and that His work shall continue after we are gone. And may we be those who not merely speak of manhood in general terms, but live it out in each moment big and small seeking to fulfill our calling before the Lord!