Read 1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12. If time permits, read 1 Kings 11:1-6.
Queen Elizabeth II reigned over the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries for more than 70 years. She was the longest serving monarch in the British empire. As such, there were many people throughout the world that has never known any other person on the throne in their lifetime. She probably saw more change in the Western world than many of us alive today. Despite all the controversial issues that plagued her family, she herself remained dignified and calm. However, she died on the 8th of September 2022, and she was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III. There was a sense of the ending of an era. It is not surprising. After all, she reigned for 70 years! Any change like that is bound to be somewhat unsettling.
In our reading today, it also involves another royal succession. This time, it is the royal succession from King David to his son, Solomon. David has reigned over Israel for 40 years (v11). King David’s reign was a significant one. He was the first legitimate king of Israel (unlike Saul) who united the different tribes to establish Israel. He was the one who first moved the capital to Jerusalem (v11). David was instrumental in the birth of Israel as a nation.
With this monumental transition to a new king in Solomon, what would David say to his son? How would he counsel Solomon to make sure that he succeeds as a king? David charges Solomon to “be strong” and “act like a man.” Much has been written about what it means to act like a man. In discussing issues of masculinity or femininity, it is surprising easy to import our cultural understanding into the topic and call it “biblical.” We must be ever vigilant against that. There are indeed appropriate ways of expressing masculinity/femininity in this specific culture, but let us be careful not to tag those expressions as “biblical” as if they come from Scripture themselves. We need to examine the passage closer to see what David meant.
It becomes clear what David meant by “act like a man” with what he said next: “and observe what the Lord your God requires…” A big part of what it means to act like a man is to be obedient to God himself. Being a man is not about being the alpha male nor is it about bravado. It is not about climbing the highest career ladder nor is it about a man’s sexual exploits. It is about his character and his obedience to God’s calling upon his life. Remember that this is David talking to the future king! He did not counsel Solomon about maintaining diplomatic relations or wisdom in dealing with his national advisors. What’s most important in a king’s life is his obedience to God.
It is the same with us. While we may not be kings like David and Solomon, but David’s counsel to Solomon indicates what is truly important in our lives. Solomon’s reign will undoubtedly be different from David’s, but yet David knew that Solomon serves the same God that he did. Thus, he calls Solomon to obedience to God. That is the most important lesson we can pass on to the next generation, whether as parents, employees, or ministers in churches. However, as we read in 1 Kings 11, Solomon failed. He let the temptations of this world overwhelm him and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord”.
With the coming of Christ, this is the perfect opportunity to remind those around us what is truly important in our lives. Instead of being occupied by presents and celebrations during Christmas, let us make the point of encouraging each other towards obedience. We still worship the same God as David and Solomon. However, unlike David and Solomon, at Christmas we celebrate Jesus as the king who perfectly obeyed God. Unlike any earthly king who would fail or die one day, Jesus lives forever as the perfect obedient king.
- Pray that we pass on the truly important lesson of obeying God to the people around us during this Christmas period
- Pray that we find security on the one truly eternal king in Christ