1 Kings 2:5-9 (NKJV)
And David charged his son Solomon, saying, “Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed. And he shed the blood of war in peacetime, and put the blood of war on his belt that was around his waist, and on his sandals that were on his feet. 6 Therefore do according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace. 7 “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for so they came to me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8 “And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood.”
This morning we bring to a close the lessons which young men teach us as the people of God. It is fitting that we do this on Palm Sunday, the day the Church historically has celebrated the Triumphal Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem. For this day Jesus demonstrated that He was a faithful son of David, willing to risk His all for the glory of His Father, and a true specimen of manliness.
Last week we noted that David urged Solomon to “show himself a man.” This manliness would manifest itself in two ways: robust obedience to God’s law as it was revealed through Moses and conscious dependence upon the promises which God had made to David.
Today David gives Solomon two more charges that highlight what it means to be a man. David had left some unfulfilled business which could pose some potential problems for Solomon’s reign – Joab who was a murderer and Shimei who was a traitor. And so David exhorts Solomon, “Show yourself a man! Take care of these men. Don’t ignore them and pretend that they will go away. Deal with them.” In the ensuing history, Solomon shows himself a man by fulfilling the charges his father gave him.
Jesus too manifest this same type of manliness. Luke tells us that Jesus “steadfastly set his face” to go to Jerusalem – knowing the opposition he would face, knowing he would be rejected, knowing he would be slain. But He did it. He was a man.
Likewise, young men, you have been given tasks to fulfill. Whether these are placed before you by your parents, your teachers, or your Lord, the measure of your masculinity is in how you respond to the challenges. Will you do the work and show yourself a man or will you sluff and procrastinate and show yourself a milksop? This is the choice that lies before you.
But David not only charges Solomon to take care of his enemies, he also reminds him to take care of his friends. “Show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for so they came to me when I fled from Absalom your brother.” A man, David insists, not only strives to overcome his enemies, he is doggedly faithful to his friends and his father’s friends, looking out for their best interest. Solomon would later write in Proverbs, “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” (Pr 27:10).
And it is this faithfulness and loyalty that were and are manifest in our Lord Jesus Christ. He came to fulfill the promises made to the fathers, came because of His Father’s great love for us, and continues to teach and instruct us by His Spirit – no longer calling us servants but calling us friends.
So, young men, are you being faithful friends? A friend who sticks closer than a brother? Are you looking out for your friends’ best interests? For this is what it means to be a man.
Reminded this morning that true manliness consists in a willingness to deal with conflict and in a tenacious loyalty to one’s friends, let us kneel and confess that we have failed in both respects.