1 Kings 2:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. 3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, 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; 4 that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
We are losing our sons. Let us candidly admit this truth. As Douglas Wilson remarked in our Leadership Training yesterday, the number of women in evangelical churches greatly exceeds that of men. This, despite the fact that men outnumber women in both Islam and orthodox Judaism. By and large the ladies remain in the churches while the men head to the locker rooms. What has caused this lack of interest on the part of evangelical men? Part of the answer lies in our failure to appreciate that which is distinctly masculine and to cultivate that masculinity in our sons.
This failure is remarkable in light of the Bible’s delight in both masculine and feminine forms of piety. While we modern evangelicals tend to be inordinately fond of the latter, the Scriptures extol each in their place. We would do well to learn what this masculinity looks like and how it should be manifest in our congregation. What is biblical masculinity? What are the traits of the man of God? It is to these questions that we address ourselves as we begin to wrap up our discussion of the lessons which young men teach us as the people of God.
When David was on his death bed, passing on to the land of his fathers, he exhorted Solomon, “Show yourself a man” (1 Kgs 2:2). David expected Solomon to live up to the training he had received and to exhibit certain traits that were distinctly masculine. How was Solomon to do this? The portion of David’s charge we have read today identifies two ways.
First, Solomon must obey the voice of the Lord. Solomon was to “keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies. . .” (2:3). Masculinity, David emphasizes, is not found in rebellion, as fallen culture erroneously surmises, but in a rigorous, zealous, full-orbed obedience to the God of all creation. Masculinity is willing to say, “No,” to ungodliness and unbelief; willing to say, “No,” to a gang of thieves and stand up against them; willing to say, “You idiot,” to a friend who speaks disrespectfully to his mother. So young men learn this lesson early--the mark of true masculinity is dutiful service to God. Disagree if you will, young men, but do it in a way that manifests a heart of obedience to the Father of Glory.
But there is a second lesson in our text that David teaches Solomon about showing oneself a man: humility. Solomon was to recall what God had promised his father and to live in light of this promise. This implies that masculine virtue is not afraid to confess its dependence upon others. Real men are willing to learn from their elders; to stand on the shoulders of their forebears; to glean all that can be gleaned from their teachers; to rejoice in the heritage which their parents have already passed and are continuing to pass down to them. As Coleridge once remarked, “A dwarf sees farther than the giant when he has the giant’s shoulder to mount on.” Young men, you are dwarfs, but if you are willing to mount upon our shoulders and we are willing to mount upon the shoulders of our fathers, imagine how far you will be able to see.
So give heed to the words of David today – Show yourself a man! Obey the Lord; treasure the inheritance of your parents. This is a taste of biblical masculinity.