The Advice Of A Father
As David is on his deathbed speaking to his son Solomon, he offers his final words of advice, saying, “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. And 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, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel’” (1 Kings 2:2-4). Some things stand out to me:
David acknowledges that kings are no better than other men when it comes to the inevitability of death. No matter what he accomplished in his life, no matter how glorious he was in battle or stately in rule, he was going the “way of all the earth.” This is a truth that is also stated by others in Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 2:14-16, 3:19, and Hebrews 9:27. Everybody dies, plain and simple, and a person’s deeds are the only holdover from this life – wealth and power are no guarantee of salvation (Luke 16:19ff).
There is something healthy and sobering about how David is resigned to his death. We would expect nothing less from a man who showed such assurance in God’s favor. Will you have the faith on your deathbed to approach eternity so calmly?
With little time left for flowery speeches and pleasantries, David gets to the heart of his expectations for Solomon. Simply put, he wants his son to follow truth. God’s own words are for the king “to walk before Me in truth” with all his heart and soul. As we study the lives of the kings of Judah, we can see many degrees of obedience: some obey God in form only, others do not obey Him at all, while others are deeply committed to their Lord and Master. Our challenge is to live up to the highest standard, to seek a deeper level of commitment. God sees each and every step of our “walk”, and He knows if it is a journey that we are eager to make.
The “charge of the Lord your God” is a reference to the instruction in the Law regarding kings in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. In short, God explains that any king over Israel must never pursue vainglory and greed in the form of “greatly increasing silver and gold for himself” and “multiplying wives” for himself, lest they turn his heart away from God. Furthermore, the king is required to handwrite his own copy of the Law and read it every day of his life, carefully observing its words. He shall never turn to the right or the left in his observance of the commandments of God.