Bears are dangerous and they can kill you. There are times where our issues in life can look like metaphorical bears that desire to devour us as men. The initial reaction is to run and flee. But our biblical inclinations as men should be to stand and to kill the bear.
Our men’s ministry is going through a book by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas called Stand Up: A guide to biblical manhood. We’re a few chapters into the book and it has convicted me personally on certain areas of manhood. This book goes through the life of men in the Bible and the masculine principles that they teach. Below is a summary of the chapter on David and Solomon. A majority is directly from the chapter with some word changes by me.
David and Solmon: Show Yourself a Man
“Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. “Keep the charge of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses,” (1Kings 2:2)
1 Kings 2:1-9 records some of the last spoken words from a father to His son. David informs Solomon that death is near and he wants Solomon to demonstrate his manhood. First, he makes him understand that manhood involves certain character: strength from obeying God (v. 3). The king’s purpose was not to acquire and amass many things for himself, but to desire obedience (Deut 17; cf. 2 Sam 7:12-16). Manhood requires obedience to the living God.
Masculine leadership shows itself in the particular context of leading, providing, and protecting. While biblical manhood and womanhood have the same moral and spiritual constraints, they are expressed differently (e.g. Uknown noise outside). David gives a timeless detail for manhood even though him and Solomon fall. And this points to the need for another king to come.
Lessons in Manhood
1. Kill a Lion or Bear – David’s life as a shepherd was able to prepare him for his fight with Goliath (1 Sam 17). Challenges that can stretch you now prepare you for greater challenges later. Or maybe this is why God has brought certain challenges your way. If you haven’t been stretched, do something that is a challenge for you now. Fight the good fight of the faith ( 1Tim 6:12). Share the gospel with a lost friend, engage with an atheist, sign up for a ministry project, deal with a family conflict you’ve neglected. What lion or bear can you kill as a way to stretch you for future challenges?
2. Run to the Battle/Move toward the Action – David was setting up Solomon to initiate his kingdom with a pattern of moving toward the action. He had practiced for years to run into to the battle and not be timid where manhood was needed.
Passivity Kills: Passivity is one of the main enemies of biblical masculinity and it’s most obvious where it’s needed. It’s waiting on the sidelines until you’re asked to step in. It’s a pattern of trying to duck out of responsibilities or run away from challenges. It’s avoiding conflict and refusing to engage with those who would harm the body of Christ.
Step Forward: Biblical manhood steps toward the challenge and not away from it. It runs into the burning building (not foolishly) to show courage and strength to help and lead. This leader has the instinct to go where the need is. We should demonstrate our availability by consistently asking to everyone we encounter (family, work, church, and community), “Do you need anything?”
3. Keep Your Head – Whether it was a bear attacking his sheep, Goliath looming in the distance, Saul hurling a spear at him, David moved toward the action with calm resolve. He didn’t panic. When there is a crisis, leaders don’t panic. Crisis reveals character and capacity. Keep your head and be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6-7). Time is wasted when you panic, so just step forward and be resilient.
4. Do the Hardest Task First – Solomon my have been looking forward to coronation and the other perks of kingship. But David makes it clear that he had to work first, and it would be hard and messy. Men are first to roll up their sleeve, do the hard work, the dirty jobs, the smelly and ugly jobs, and they do their hardest work first.
Procrastinating Cultivates Passivity: Attacking your hardest task of the day will build your resistance to passivity. Waiting and delaying only reinforces your sinful tendencies toward passivity.
Lead with Authority: Biblical masculinity will not allow papers, taxes, or project deadlines to rule him. He will exercise dominion over them by doing them in a timely manner. Being bold with people is important too. Make the hard relational move first. Don’t be passive within interpersonal relationships. Some men can do the hard task but avoid difficult situations that involve other people. Whether it is tough conversations, apologizing, or even confrontation, you should do your pain first.
5. Swear to Your Own Hurt – Another lesson David gave to Solomon was the importance of making and keeping commitments. In Psalm 15 he says that the blameless man “swears to his own heart and does not change” (v. 4). It’s a poetic way of saying, “keep your commitments even when it’s inconvenient.” David showed this when Saul was aggressively trying to kill him but he promised not to take Saul’s life (1 Sam 24:1-22). David also extended kindness to the garndsom of Saul for the sake of Jonathan (2 Sam 9:1-13).
The Struggle: Follow David’s example of making and keeping commitments, and you’ll earn the trust of friends, employers, colleagues, church members, and your wife (and future wife). Don’t show favoritism by bailing on people when you get a better offer. Don’t throw in the towel when you’ve committed to something. Commitments have two options: keep it or renegotiate based on changes in circumstances. “I know I said I would be there to help you this afternoon, but I go attacked by a mountain lion this morning, so I’ll be a few minutes late.” See tasks through. Don’t be known for starting and stopping projects. Carry stuff all the way. Get it done. That’s what leaders do.
6. Obey the Lord – This is the most enduring lesson of David and Solomon. It would be through obedience that Solomon would be like his father, a man after God’s own heart. Strong, masculine leadership is tied to obedience. That’s what God requires even if it doesn’t seem to offer any practical benefits.
No Rewards: Following Gods design for manhood can result in great rewards: relational happiness, business success, and personal fulfillment. But even if it doesn’t, you still have to do it out of obedience. You can’t just do the right things for what you can get out of it. Like Joseph, obedience may cause great trouble, but you obey and do the right things even if it costs you everything (Gen 39:1-20).
Avoid Solomon’s Mistake: A few chapters later, we learn Solomon does not faithfully obey God (1 Kings 9-11). He marries outside against God’s will and accommodates to other worship practices (1 King 9:24). He amasses wealth and women (10:21-26; 11:1-3) and his heart is turned away from being completely devoted to God (11:4-8).
A man after God’s own heart doesn’t just demonstrate leadership here and there; he faithfully loves God through obedience. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).