Jesus commanded his disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). But what does it look like to seek the kingdom first? The final words of King David to his son Solomon are parallel as he gives his final instructions. The second chapter of 1 Kings records that David is about to pass away and this is David’s final opportunity to give wise words to his son about the kingdom. Listen to the instructions of David in 1 Kings 2:2-4.
Live A Life of Faith
There are two instructions that fit within this need to live a life of faith. David says, “Be strong, and show yourself a man.” David is not telling his son to go lift weights, to be physically strong, or to make sure look like a man. These are spiritual instructions regarding Solomon and his life in the kingdom. Let’s look at these two instructions. First, David tells Solomon to be strong. This is a common instruction in scriptures. Moses tells Joshua to be strong and courageous when Joshua is about to take over the leadership of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, 23). The Lord tells Joshua to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:7) and follows a parallel instruction to what we read David giving Solomon here. Be strong means to faithfully carry out one’s responsibility to the Lord even in the face of danger and frightening circumstances. Do not give in to fear or hopelessness. Be strong in your faith. Be strong in the Lord. Notice that the apostle Paul gave the same instructions to the Ephesians. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10 ESV) The apostle Paul also gave the same instructions to the Corinthians at the end of his first letter. Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13–14 ESV) Be strong to withstand the attacks of the power of darkness. The kingdom of God is under attack. Our souls are under attack. Be strong and watch what is going on around you and in your life. Satan is launching flaming darts at you (Ephesians 6:16). Don’t give up! Oh how I think we need to hear this instruction today. The scriptures would not call for us to be strong if carrying out our responsibilities to the Lord were easy. Being a Christian is going to be hard. You are going to make hard decisions and face difficult situations. Be strong! Fight against sexual temptation. Fight against impurity. Be strong against Satan’s tactics in your life as he attacks your weaknesses. Tied closely to this point is David’s instruction to “show yourself a man.” The apostle Paul told the Corinthians Christians to “act like men” (1 Corinthians 16:13). It surprises how often people bristle at this kind of language. The scriptures do not make the comparison to not act like a woman but to act like a man. That is not what the authors are doing and we too quickly impose our political correctness and gender sensitivities on these passages. The scriptures do not contrast acting like a man and not like a woman. Rather the scriptures contrast acting like a man and not like a child. Don’t act childish. Act like an adult. Listen again to the apostle Paul. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11–14 ESV)Do not be naive and immature when it comes to spiritual matters. David is calling for his son to show maturity. Don’t go along with every idea. Don’t go along with what other people want. Be strong in the Lord. Act like a man. Consider how Solomon’s son failed at this responsibility. Rehoboam listen to his friends rather than his advisors when it came to handling the people, precipitating the split of the kingdom. Don’t go along with everyone’s ideas and everyone’s advice. Don’t be tossed around by those things like a child. Be mature in your thinking.
Be Determined To Obey Your God
David instructs Solomon to “keep the charge of the Lord your God” (1 Kings 2:3). Be faithful to keep to your calling. Not only must we withstand Satan’s attacks on our faith, but we must walk worthy of the calling to which we each have been called (cf. Ephesians 4:1). Walk with the Lord. David says to Solomon, “Walk in his ways and keep his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses.” Seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness means that my life will first consider the ways and the laws of the Lord before anything else. To put this command into the form of a question: do we understand who we are and what we are supposed to do? We have been given a glorious calling to be Christians, disciples of Jesus, children of the Almighty God, the people for God’s own possession. The problem is that we lack the faithfulness to this calling and fail to walk worthy of that calling because we do not have a seriousness for the commands of God. We live at a time where Christian laziness is the norm. We live in a time where Christianity is about bumper stickers, t-shirts, and Christian radio. Be faithful to your calling. Be determined to obey your God. This means we must live inside the boundaries of God’s revelation. Live a life based on God’s revelation. God’s word must be the guide in our life for all that we do. Being a Christian is not wearing a title but having a life dominated and controlled by the word of the Lord. Look at your life. What laws guide your life? What rules control what you do? Do you live by your rules and ways or God’s rules and ways? David is instructing Solomon to be determined to keep the charge given by the Lord, to walk worthy of his calling. Further, David is calling for an intimate knowledge of God’s word. Know everything about the Lord your God: his statutes, commandments, rules, and testimonies. Soak in the word of God. Eat, drink, and breathe God’s word. It is your charge to walk worthy of God’s calling for your life.
Keep Your Eyes On God’s Reward
Listen to the promises God gave to David and Solomon that David describes to his son. If Solomon will walk worthy of his calling and keep the Lord’s commands, he would prosper in all that he did and wherever he turned, “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.'” (1 Kings 2:4 ESV) David tells Solomon to look at what God has promised. Look at what God is going to do for you. There are great rewards in following the paths of the Lord. Somehow we seem to forget this truth. We look out into the ways of the world as if we are missing out. We communicate the idea that we are stuck inside the boundaries of God’s law, just dying to get out and enjoy the pleasures of life. And we look like this in our actions. Rather than enjoying a nearness to our Lord and experiencing a relationship with our Lord, we look like we are trying to do everything to get away from our Lord. We think that satisfaction is found away from the Lord. What our souls seek cannot be found outside the boundaries of God’s law! Do not look longingly at the world. It is not providing them anything. They are not finding the lasting satisfaction either. How sad that the Lord is offering us living waters and we are looking longingly for the toilet water that Satan offers! Stop looking to the world and instead look to the Lord’s reward. Allow me to give you one of the gracious promises of God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 ESV)God has what you are seeking. God provides what your soul truly needs. Live for God’s kingdom and you will receive the covenantal blessings of God.
Deal Decisively With Evil
The rest of 1 Kings 2 records David giving instructions concerning who was evil and who was righteous toward him. When David dies we see Solomon dealing a decisive way against the evildoers in his kingdom. The chapter ends with the words, “So the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.” Do not let evil rule in your life. With your determination to live for God and his kingdom, to be strong in the Lord and faithful to his ways, then decisively cut out the evil in your life. Take courage, be strong in the Lord, do not act like children, keep the requirements of the Lord, and faithfully follow the Lord and seek his kingdom in all that we say and do.