Show Thyself A Man

Title: Show Thyself A Man

Bible Book: 1 Kings 2 : 1-4

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Father, Godly; Man, Christian



If you are the father of a boy, I want to ask you a tough, soul-searching question, and I’ll ask it of myself as well, because I have two grown sons. Here’s the question: If you knew that you were dying and had one last chance to offer advice to your son, what would you say to him? Or perhaps a better question is, What should you say to him in such a case?

Our Scripture passage for this morning offers some very definite help in that regard. It tells of one of history’s most prominent men advising his son under precisely those circumstances. As we look together at those verses, my prayer is that God will speak not only to all of us men, but also to the ladies, young people, and children--but the focus this morning is on men.

Look, please, at 1 Kings 1:1-2: “Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he changed Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man.”

I. The Priority of Manhood

This passage points up, for one thing, THE PRIORITY OF MANHOOD.

Solomon was about to become king of Israel in his father’s stead, and there was much he needed to know about government organization and finance, and international relations. David could have advised him well about those things, for he had taken a group of unruly tribes and molded them into one of the greatest nations of that day. Solomon would become commander-in-chief of all of Israel’s armed forces, and David could have given him some valuable pointers on military strategy. Indeed, he could have advised his son on a variety of issues.

But a dying man has neither the time nor the inclination to deal with with secondary matters, as important as those matters might be in their place. Thus, David got to the very heart of things and expressed the one burning concern that overshadowed all else; he said to Solomon, “Show thyself a man!” By clear implication he was saying, “Son, that’s top priority; that’s foundational. If you prove yourself to be a real man, then all of these other issues can be addressed satisfactorily. You can learn how to run the government. You can learn about finances. You can learn military strategy. But if you don’t prove yourself to be a real man, all of that knowledge will be for naught. So, show thyself a man!”

No father could give his son better counsel than that. However, David’s advice would hardly have been complete had he not gone on to explain to Solomon what it takes to be a man--and fortunately he did exactly that.

II. The Marks of Manhood

David went on to point out THE MARKS OF MANHOOD.

Before I go any further, let me say this: although there are differences of opinion as to Solomon’s age at that time, many - and I am among them - believe that he was already a grown young man physically. It is very likely that he was active, well built, and in good condition. But regardless of his exact age at the time, it is obvious that when David said to him, “be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man,” he was talking about inner strength. David went on to explain in verse 3: “And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies....”

A. He Lives for God with All His Heart

David was saying that the primary mark of a real man is that he obeys God with all his heart and soul - he lives for God.

B. He Looks to Scripture for Guidance

He then went on to say, in that same verse, “as it is written in the law of Moses.” “The law of Moses” refers to the first five books of the Old Testament, which primarily made up their Bible at that point in time. The rest of the Old Testament, and all of the New Testament, came later. So, David was saying to his son, “A real man looks to the Scriptures for guidance in living for God.”

Centuries later Paul wrote, in Acts 20:32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

C. He Loves God’s Word as Truth

The Bible is the repository of God’s truth. It covers a wide range of issues, but it has one primary subject. In the Library of Congress there is a unique copy of the Constitution. Its letters are so shaded that when you stand at a certain distance and at a particular angle you see in that Constitution the face of George Washington. In like manner, when you look prayerfully and intently at the pages of the Bible you see, figuratively speaking, the face of Jesus Christ on every page. Jesus said, in John 5:39. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

We know, from the many things he said, that David had faith in the promised Messiah and by admonishing Solomon to give heed to “the law of Moses” he was ultimately pointing Solomon toward the Savior. Jesus said, in John 5:46, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.”

The Bible presents Jesus as the one and only answer to man’s basic problem - the problem of sin. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We receive that gift by meeting two unalterable, non-negotiable conditions: in Acts 17:30 we read that “ commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Jesus said, in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” When you receive Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, you thereby receive eternal life. That means that you’ll go to heaven rather than hell when you die, and it also means that in the “here and now” God makes available to you the necessary resources for living a clean, fulfilling life.

But not only is he the Savior of all who repent of their sins and yield themselves to him in faith, once we’ve been saved, he then is also our example. 1 Peter 3:21 says, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”

In John 19:5 we read, “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!” Jesus was fully God but he was also fully man. Our minds can’t comprehend that, but the Bible clearly teaches that it is so. Being fully man, he encountered all the enticements and allurements that we confront, although - and how thankful we are for this - never once did he yield. Hebrews 4:15 declares that he “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” He lived the one and only perfect life that has ever been lived. He endured all the pressures and all of the challenges that we face, and did so victoriously. So, if you want to see how a real man lives, just look at Jesus.

Even though you and I cannot come anywhere close to living up to his matchless example, we must nevertheless strive toward that end. And as we thus strive, utilizing the resources of prayer, Bible study, worship, and service, we will grow spiritually and become more Christ-like as time goes on. Jesus was the one and only perfect example of manhood.

From the example of Jesus we see that sometimes a real man is silent. Matthew 27:12 says that “when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”

However, we also learn from Jesus that on other occasions a real man does speak up. In John 7:46 some of Christ’s contemporaries declared, “Never man spake like this man.” Sometimes Jesus found it necessary to speak stern words, but he did so with love in his heart and a redemptive purpose in mind.

Do you want to see how a real man swings into action when it is necessary? Look at Jesus in John 2:13-16:

And the Jewish Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables: And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

Jesus would never have taken such harsh action had he not seen, with his perfect discernment, that it was his only alternative. Jesus never acted impulsively or in undue haste and neither should you and I. When dealing with volatile situations we should always seek God’s leadership, and take stern steps only when God clearly reveals to us that it is absolutely necessary.

At other times, a real man just stands up and takes it, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane when the soldiers laid hands on him and took him to Pilate. It all depends on the leadership of God in each individual situation.

Do you want to see how a real man regards other people? Look at Jesus in Matthew 9:36: “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”

What is a real man’s attitude toward his enemies? In Matthew 5:44 Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Even while he was hanging on the cross, with nails driven through his hands and feet and a crown of thorns piercing his brow, Luke 23:34 tells us that Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do....”

So, a real man is one who trusts Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and looks to Jesus as his example. A real man is faithful to his Lord, to his wife, family, and friends, and to his church. A real man has the backbone to stand his ground and do what is right, whether anyone else does or not. A real man lets his light shine for God out in the rough and tumble arena of everyday life.

Lord, in this age of steel and stone,

When so many cave in to Satan’s plan;

Give me the grace to stand alone,

Give me the strength to be a man.

Real men come in a variety of sizes and shapes. I know some real men who are tall, and some who are short; some who are muscular, and some who are frail in body: some who are heavy, and some who are bean poles. I had a friend in college who was always kidding about how skinny he was. He said, “I’m so skinny that my pajamas just have one stripe.” I used to tell my boys that God doesn’t measure a man from the ground up, but from the heart out.

That inner fortitude that causes a real man to stand for God against all odds is explainable by what Paul said in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

So, there is only way to be a real man in the best sense of that term: link your life trustfully and obediently to Jesus Christ, and let this book which he has given us, the Bible, be your guide.

But David, in his dying words to Solomon, not only pointed up the priority of manhood and the marks of manhood.

III. The Need for Manhood

He also emphasized THE NEED FOR MANHOOD.

A. For the Highest Personal Possibilities

For one thing, it was for Solomon’s own sake, personally, that David said to him, “Show thyself a man.” In the last part of verse 3 David said, “that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself.”

He was saying, in effect, “Son, I want you to experience the highest and best that life has to offer and that will be possible only if you commit yourself to being a real man by the power and grace of God.”

B. For the Best Family, Church and National Possibilities

But David also wanted Solomon to show himself a man for the sake of others. In spite of one terrible lapse in his life, David had led his nation to a position of strength and unity. But this had been accomplished by blood, sweat, and tears. Now that David was about to pass off the scene, he knew that the responsibility for preserving what had been built was going to lie squarely on Solomon’s shoulders. David knew that it was no job for a weakling; it was going to take faith, courage, and grit, and thus his appeal: “Show thyself a man.”

God had promised that the descendants of David would continue to rule over Israel only if they proved themselves worthy. So, it was for the sake of the entire nation that David said to Solomon, “Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man.” David went on to say, in verse 4: “That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.”

So, in a very real sense Israel’s national well-being at that point in history depended on Solomon showing himself a man. And so it is, even today, in our beloved nation. How we thank the Lord for the fine ladies, and for the splendid young people and children. We couldn’t possibly get along without them. But there are some places of responsibility that God has ordained that men should fill, not just members of the male population, but real men, men in the highest sense of the term.

There is a need for real men in government today, and in the homes of America. I’m talking about men who will stand up and say, in the words of Joshua 24:15, “...choose you this day whom ye will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

And what a pressing need there is for real men in our churches, in our communities, and in the work place. Men who have the heart and commitment to shoulder the load and take responsibility seriously. Men who don’t grow weary in well doing, who have the strength of character and the “stickability” to keep on keeping on, to finish what they start even if others quit. Men who have the faith and vision to launch out into the deep and steer by the stars of God, even if others are content with the status quo. Men who put first things first. Men who have the bigness of soul to forgive and forget. Men who have a willingness to sacrifice for a just cause, and the courage to speak out for what is right. Men who have the humility to admit it when they’re wrong, and to make amends. Men of integrity.

With minor editing, here is the way one poet expressed it:

God, give us men! A time like this demands

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And resist his treacherous flatteries without blinking!

Godly men, real men, who live above the fog

In public duty and in private thinking;

For while the crowd, with their thumb-worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,

Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

Oh, God, give us men!

David said to his son, “Be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man.” Real strength, whether in the life of a man, a lady, a young person, or a boy or girl, comes from being rightly related to Jesus Christ.

Have you repented of your sins and by faith received Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not, this would be a wonderful time to settle that all-important, destiny-determining issue. I challenge you to respond this morning to God’s great invitation recorded in Revelation 22:17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

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