Archive for October, 2018

1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 2 of 3)
Solomon Establishes His Rule

Joab was quite the character in David’s kingdom, was he not? But to be fair, his actions, though loathsome, are all too familiar to us. He’s what you might call  a “political pragmatist”. He makes his own way! He is keenly aware of who stands in his way. He is the definition of a Machiavellian politician. Machiavellianism is a term that some social, forensic and personality psychologists use to describe a person’s tendency to be detach themselves from conventional morality in an effort to achieve their own goals. They are the classic “the end justifies the means” kind of person.

Joab fits that description. He is someone who takes brutal views and a tough guy approach to problems because he thinks that’s the only reasonable way to behave. Joab seeks revenge against Abner, killing him for murdering his brother, and he executes Absalom against David’s orders (though he spins the events to show himself to actually be serving David’s best interests afterwards). His most aggressive act might be when he treacherously guts and kills Amasa, who had replaced Joab as David’s chief general. It’s an extremely jealous and rather mean thing to do. Don’t forget he has the goods on David because he also helps David carry out his treacherous plot to kill Uriah the Hittite. Like David keeps saying about Joab and his brother, Abishai, they’re simply “too violent.” You never see Joab seeking after the Lord but rather trying to politically position himself or to defend the position that he has obtained.

We do not have to go far to see this in the movies. There was the movie, Primary Colors. Primary Colors is a 1998 film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Elaine May was adapted from the novel Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, a thinly-veiled fictional tale that anyone could deduce was about Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992. This film masterfully shows the inside of a political campaign in which morality goes out the window in a no-holes barred attempt to grab the White House. There are no boy scouts in this film. It shows politics is as a dirty a game as the participants are willing to take it. It was certainly an indictment of the Clintons as the “say and do whatever is necessary to win” candidate couple. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether the film is true to the political careers of the main characters of this “fictional” film. It is an indictment of us as the American voting public that we do not require more depth of character and morality from our candidates for public office.

The thing that is striking Joab and the main characters in Primary Colors is how much like him we all can be. We want to control our own destiny. We want to make our own way. We want what we want and we want it now. When it all doesn’t work out for us or we get caught doing the wrong thing, we then turn to God. God is our God of last resort. We often try to figure out every way to fix or solve our problems ourselves as opposed to putting it in God’s hands. When this doesn’t work out for us we decide to turn it over to God, because we have no other option.

Whenever we find ourselves in “a situation”, whether it be small or significant, we typically have multiple choices as to how to handle it. Just look at all the self-help or self-actualization books out there. We all are looking for ways to get a leg-up on our competition. But there is always emptiness that comes with our efforts. There is always somebody to that we have to be weary of. There is always somebody that’s gonna simply be better than us at what we do. There is always going to someone that is better positioned than you. And when you get to where you want to be, as you see it, then it all becomes about defending the fort at that point. It can be maddening and tiring to say the least. We all are aware of these kinds of people in our lives. We may actually be one of these people and not even realize it and, then, like we said, there are plenty, o’ plenty, examples in the political landscape at the federal, state and local levels that you and I can think of immediately. That’s what makes a character study of Joab so topical to us in the 21st century.

It is that type of “making your own destiny at all costs” kind of personality that kind of sums up Joab as he runs to the altar as a last resort that I thought of when I read this passage one more time today. Let’s read this passage together again now:

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[a] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.

In this passage, we remember that Joab had spent his life trying to defend his position as David’s commander of Israel’s armed forces. Twice David tried to replace him, and both times Joab treacherously killed his rivals before they could assume command (See 2 Samuel 3:17-30, 2 Samuel 19:13, and 2 Samuel 20:4-10). Because Joab was in his service, David was ultimately responsible for these senseless deaths. However, for political and military reasons, David decided not to publicly punish Joab. We can suspect that Joab’s political “ace in the hole” with David was his knowledge of the inner workings of the Bathsheba/Uriah incident. Additionally, Joab was far and away the most skilled military tactician that Israel had to offer.

Instead of deposing Joab as he should have done long ago, he put a curse on Joab and his family (see 2 Samuel 3:29). Solomon, in punishing Joab, was publicly declaring that David was not a part of Joab’s crimes, thus removing the guilt from his father’s throne and placing it on Joab where it belonged. It is interesting to note that Joab, usually taking matters into his own hands, runs to God, literally, when he saw no way out of paying for his crimes. With his political games at an end, he runs to God.

How often do we do the same thing? We try to control our own destiny and get upset when things don’t go our way. We worry and we fret about who is doing what and how we can counteract it. We plan and scheme as to how to react to the things that happen in our lives. We take actions that are in our self-interest and no one else’s. We allow pride to determine our reactions to the world around. We allow our self-worth to be defined by our circumstances. When all else fails, we turn to God. We try everything our way first and then we turn to God just as Joab does here in this passage. God is only God when we need Him to do something for us. Otherwise, it’s all about us and how we can handle our lives.

When researching for this blog, you know what I ran across, a psalm from David himself. It is my wife’s favorite passage in the Bible. It is from Psalm 121. David writes the following:

I lift up my eyes to the hills –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip –
he who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you –
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm –
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Are you tired of trying to control your destiny which is not yours to control? Are you just tired of the rat race of actions and reactions and more actions and reactions after that? Are you tired of the latest self-help book that inspires you for a couple of weeks then leaves you empty and right back where you started from? Is it not time to trust your life to the Lord? Is it not time to have a real, day-to-day relationship with Him? Is it not time to go deeper in your trust in the Lord? Are you tired of constantly worrying about what you’ve got to do to react to the world around you? Have you ever really placed your life and your entire trust in the Lord? The Lord provides for those who trust and obey. How real is your trust in the Lord? There’s an old saying that is almost cliché now in Christian circles, but it is something that we really should take heart in, “Let go and let God!” Do you trust him? Really trust him?

Or do you want to continue living the life of Joab, forever fearful, forever protecting your turf, forever putting fingers in the leaking dam of your life? Let go. Let God.

Amen and Amen.

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1 Kings 2:13-46 (Part 1 of 3)
Solomon Establishes His Rule

Man, there is a lot of stuff going in this passage. It reads like some CIA spy novel where agents are part of some political coup in some third world country so that a ruler that is allied with our country takes the throne. Political intrigue fit for a modern-day novel taking place right here in the Bible. But what does this sequence in 1 Kings 2:13-46 tell us that we can use today in our world.

The lesson I think is two-fold and I am personally in a season of learning both. One is that we must not just talk trust in the Lord but actually do it. In this passage, Solomon actions demonstrate his trust in the Lord. The other lesson is about having discernment. Solomon saw through the claims of his enemies and discerned what their true motives were.

First, we must keep the main the main thing. What do I mean by that? Adonijah was trying to divert attention away from what the main thing was – Solomon was the chosen king. He wanted the glory for himself as if he had some right of his stolen away. He was so focused on himself that he was unwilling to accept his dad’s and God’s choice to king – Solomon. He was not willing to submit himself to authority. He would rather go down to death than to humbly submit to the leadership that had been put in place over him. We all could learn a lesson from this. God has you and I where we are to learn what we need to learn for what He has in store for us. Case in point, recently, in college football is brought to my mind. As many of you know, I am a rabid Clemson University football fan. If you follow college football, you know that Clemson is very successful at football. Out of the four years so far that there has been a college football playoff, the Tigers have been in the last three playoffs. Though they lost in the semifinal round last year, the previous two years they won one national championship and nearly won the year before that. All in all, there is only one college football team, Alabama, that has had more victories during the past 8 seasons than the Clemson Tigers. Last year, there was a transition from all-everything quarterback, Deshaun Watson, to last year’s starter, Kelly Bryant. Kelly led the team to the college football playoffs last year but performed miserably in last year’s semifinal game against Alabama. And then this year, the highest rated high school quarterback in the nation, Trevor Lawrence, came to campus and pushed for starting time. He is that talented as a freshman. Through the first 4 games, Kelly Bryant was the starter each game but Trevor was getting a good bit of playing time. After Trevor’s performance in Game 4 and Kelly’s rather lackluster performance in that same game, Trevor was named starter for Game 5.

Instead of handling it well and accepting that Trevor would get the start (and knowing that Kelly would still get plenty of playing time), Kelly decided to quit the team and announce that he was going sit out the rest of the season and transfer to another school where he could be the starter in the 2019 season. If you are a fan of college football, you have seen this play out in the media quite a bit here in the last few weeks. Although Kelly is not one of those spoiled brat college football players (he is actually a really smart, good kid who was one of the leaders of the team), he did in this situation let his team down and acted impetuously. Sure, Trevor is much more talented than he is but he had a role to play on the team and the team is somewhat weakened by his selfish behavior. That is what came to mind here today as I was reading about Adonijah. Most assuredly, he would have a role to play in Solomon’s kingdom. He was part of the family of David. But Adonijah selfishly wanted to be king and did not think he should be supplanted by his younger brother. There’s a lesson here both from Kelly Bryant and Adonijah for us all. Sometimes, we must accept where God has placed and live in that place and do whatever it takes to support the team we are on. God has a purpose in our roles at the present time and he is teaching us something that we will need to understand as we grow in our faith, in roles, and in our leadership. Kelly and Adonijah did not trust that the Lord would provide for them so they both took matters into their own hands.

Second, we should have discernment about what is going on before us. This discernment is about ourselves as much as it about anyone else. We must analyze our frustrations, hurts, slights, and determine why we feel that way. Is it ego? Is it pride? Is it immaturity? We always must examine our own starting place before we examine others. Sure, like Solomon, we must be wise about analyzing advice given or requested in light of Scripture. We must compare motives of others to Scripture. The Holy Spirit will convict us by that “check in our spirit” about someone if they are not acting in accord with Scripture.

However, the more sly way we often hurt ourselves is through our own pride. Pride blinds us to our blind spots. Pride blinds us to what we need to learn. Pride often short-circuits God’s plan for our lives. We need to examine ourselves when we don’t get our way. Adonijah should have went to the Lord in prayer to seek answers rather than acting so impetuously. Kelly Bryant at Clemson, in my mind, should have really thought this thing through for a week or two. Immediate knee jerk reactions caused by hurt pride are often wrong decisions. On the other side of the coin, discernment is outward as well. When it comes to the motives of others, the real motives are always ultimately revealed. When it comes to our own motives, that seems harder to see for us. Prayer is the only thing that I have found that leads to true discernment about others and then ESPECIALLY about ourselves.

So this passage has two things in it today (among the many things) that struck me – having the innocence to trust the Lord really, truly, deeply and having prayer-inspired discernment about others and especially about ourselves. Let’s read this passage together now:

13 One day Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, came to see Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. “Have you come with peaceful intentions?” she asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “I come in peace. 14 In fact, I have a favor to ask of you.”

“What is it?” she asked.

15 He replied, “As you know, the kingdom was rightfully mine; all Israel wanted me to be the next king. But the tables were turned, and the kingdom went to my brother instead; for that is the way the Lord wanted it. 16 So now I have just one favor to ask of you. Please don’t turn me down.”

“What is it?” she asked.

17 He replied, “Speak to King Solomon on my behalf, for I know he will do anything you request. Ask him to let me marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem.”

18 “All right,” Bathsheba replied. “I will speak to the king for you.”

19 So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak on Adonijah’s behalf. The king rose from his throne to meet her, and he bowed down before her. When he sat down on his throne again, the king ordered that a throne be brought for his mother, and she sat at his right hand.

20 “I have one small request to make of you,” she said. “I hope you won’t turn me down.”

“What is it, my mother?” he asked. “You know I won’t refuse you.”

21 “Then let your brother Adonijah marry Abishag, the girl from Shunem,” she replied.

22 “How can you possibly ask me to give Abishag to Adonijah?” King Solomon demanded. “You might as well ask me to give him the kingdom! You know that he is my older brother, and that he has Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah on his side.”

23 Then King Solomon made a vow before the Lord: “May God strike me and even kill me if Adonijah has not sealed his fate with this request. 24 The Lord has confirmed me and placed me on the throne of my father, David; he has established my dynasty as he promised. So as surely as the Lord lives, Adonijah will die this very day!” 25 So King Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him, and Adonijah was put to death.

26 Then the king said to Abiathar the priest, “Go back to your home in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not kill you now, because you carried the Ark of the Sovereign Lord for David my father and you shared all his hardships.” 27 So Solomon deposed Abiathar from his position as priest of the Lord, thereby fulfilling the prophecy the Lord had given at Shiloh concerning the descendants of Eli.

28 Joab had not joined Absalom’s earlier rebellion, but he had joined Adonijah’s rebellion. So when Joab heard about Adonijah’s death, he ran to the sacred tent of the Lord and grabbed on to the horns of the altar. 29 When this was reported to King Solomon, he sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada to execute him.

30 Benaiah went to the sacred tent of the Lord and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!”

But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.”

So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

31 “Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of Joab’s senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. 32 The Lord will repay him[a] for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father knew nothing about the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and of Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. 33 May their blood be on Joab and his descendants forever, and may the Lord grant peace forever to David, his descendants, his dynasty, and his throne.”

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and he was buried at his home in the wilderness. 35 Then the king appointed Benaiah to command the army in place of Joab, and he installed Zadok the priest to take the place of Abiathar.

36 The king then sent for Shimei and told him, “Build a house here in Jerusalem and live there. But don’t step outside the city to go anywhere else. 37 On the day you so much as cross the Kidron Valley, you will surely die; and your blood will be on your own head.”

38 Shimei replied, “Your sentence is fair; I will do whatever my lord the king commands.” So Shimei lived in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later two of Shimei’s slaves ran away to King Achish son of Maacah of Gath. When Shimei learned where they were, 40 he saddled his donkey and went to Gath to search for them. When he found them, he brought them back to Jerusalem.

41 Solomon heard that Shimei had left Jerusalem and had gone to Gath and returned. 42 So the king sent for Shimei and demanded, “Didn’t I make you swear by the Lord and warn you not to go anywhere else or you would surely die? And you replied, ‘The sentence is fair; I will do as you say.’ 43 Then why haven’t you kept your oath to the Lord and obeyed my command?”

44 The king also said to Shimei, “You certainly remember all the wicked things you did to my father, David. May the Lord now bring that evil on your own head. 45 But may I, King Solomon, receive the Lord’s blessings, and may one of David’s descendants always sit on this throne in the presence of the Lord.” 46 Then, at the king’s command, Benaiah son of Jehoiada took Shimei outside and killed him.

So the kingdom was now firmly in Solomon’s grip.

This passage is oh so valuable to us I think. I will revisit this passage two more times. Today, we looked at Adonijah. In the next blog, we look at Joab and the one after that we will look at Shimei. But today’s lesson shows us that we must trust the Lord and be discerning about our own motives as to why we are taking the actions we are taking. Is it pride that is causing us to act the way we are? When we are acting out of hurt pride, we are often failing to trust the Lord in what He has in store for us. Sure, sometimes, people want to hurt us but more often than not, it is our pride and lack of trust in the Lord that causes us to take certain destructive courses of action. This passage really teaches us that we must examine our motives for what we are about to do. Adonijah’s pride caused him to try to thwart God’s ordained plan and he ended up dead. For Kelly Bryant at Clemson, he is now going to sit out for a season and probably end up at a school that is not near as successful as Clemson for what? Pride. All of us have situations in our lives where we let pride lead us to foolish decisions rather than seeing what God is trying to prepare us for in our futures. Let us think on that today. What foolish decisions have I made or are about to make because of pride rather than seeking and learning what God is trying to teach us.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 2:1-12 (Part 2 of 2)
David’s Final Instructions to Solomon

Yesterday, I talked about some big picture advice that my dad gave me about 15 years ago that has stuck with me ever since. Today, I am going to bring it down a notch. There were things that my dad taught me, too, that were extremely practical. And, man, there were a lot of those. The biggest one being “screws tighten to the right and loosen to the left.” Some people call it “righty tighty; lefty loosey” but my dad used the more eloquent version! LOL! You know, I think about that advice every time I have to use a screw. I mean how many times do you have to drive a screw into something or loosen a screw out of something in a lifetime. That was sage advice, man!

That advice reminds me of big picture things too. In this universe created by God, there as some immutable laws that he set into motion at creation that will forever operate on this side of eternity until Jesus returns someday to establish his eternal kingdom on earth. One of those immutable laws is the fact that screws tighten to the right and loosen to the left. Sure, screws are man made and the law is created by the downward helix design of screws. However, the principle of tightening and binding things together or loosening things already bound together by a screw stand on top of things that man learned about how the universe operates. The design of a screw follows how God designed the human arms and hands. Did you know? I found this at Quora.com. This was really eye-opening…um…well…the whole eye-opening thing would be another blog…LOL! But for now:

The reason that screws are designed to tighten to the right and loosen to the left is because of the design of our arm muscle, the bicep. The bicep muscle – the strongest muscle in our arm – actually has two functions:

1) flexion of the arm and
2) supination (which is the motion used when screwing in a screw clockwise).

The supination action comes from the fact that a portion of the biceps muscle wraps around the base of the forearm, and when this muscle is flexed, it rotates the forearm inward so that the arm supinates (rotates from the hand-down direction to the hand-up direction, clockwise).

The biceps muscle being as strong as it is makes the clockwise direction of turning your right hand able to use much more strength than the counterclockwise action, which is called pronation. The pronation action can only be done with a relatively small and weak muscle called the pronator teres and another small muscle called the pronator quadratus. Also, the mechanism by how the pronator teres pronates the hand, by pulling the radius over the ulna, is a much weaker way to turn something than how the biceps does it, which wraps around the forearm and so twists the arm quickly just as if you are pulling on a yoyo or pulling up on a carpet under someone’s feet.

So there you go! Now, you know. There are universal laws in operation that were observed when designing the screw – the thing that binds stuff together, a basic necessity of construction in highly developed societies.

These are immutable laws of the universe that our dad’s teach us. They are necessary lessons in life that our dad’s teach us. Our mom’s love us unconditionally and teach us about the softer side of life, about caring and compassion, and the beautiful things in life. Our dads teach us the cold, hard facts about life. Our dads teach us that the world is rough place and that it is often completely unfair. Our dads teach us that when we fall down in the real world, mom is not going to be there to fix every boo boo and that we have to sometimes quit crying, get up, accept what happened and move on. Our dads teach us real world, practical advice that will help us survive in the cruel world out there. Typically, a dads wish is not so much that their children be wealthy and successful but rather that they will be able to take care of themselves when they get out on their own. For me, that is true with my kids. Although they are smart and educated, that is not what drives me about my girls. I want them to be well-adjusted, productive citizens that know how the world works and can survive and thrive in it when I am gone. Whatever path they take in that pursuit whether that’s making millions or teaching school or working in retail management or whatever, I just want them to be able to make their own way and be well-adjusted and productive when I am gone.

Whatever advise I can give along the way in practical matters to help them get there, I will do that. That is what David is doing here in this passage. After the big picture advice of following God and keeping His ways, David follows it up with some day-to-day practical advice about things he is going to face immediately as king. That’s what dads do. That’s why dad taught me “righty tighty, lefty loosey” and so many other practical things that I could fill volumes but do not have time here. Let’s read this passage now with an eye toward the practical advice given.

Chapter 2
1 As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:

2 “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. 3 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. 4 If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’

5 “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace,[a] staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood.[b] 6 Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.[c]

7 “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom.

8 “And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. 9 But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.[d]”

10 Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. 11 David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

As we revisit this passage one more time, we see that David had some harsh advice for Solomon concerning his enemies. This advice was designed to help the young king establish and secure his throne, and it was directed only toward blatant enemies – those who opposed God by opposing the anointed king Legally, David was asking Solomon to give his enemies the punishment they deserved. It was against the law, for example for Shimei to curse a king and it was against the law for Joab to commit murder during a time of peace. For Joab, winning was everything. He wanted to get power for himself and protect his position.

In contrast, David’s advice about Barzillai was to honor him for he stood loyal to God and live by his standards. When offered glory, he unselfishly deferred it to his son. This advice given by David was necessary information for his son to be able to wise in his rule. David’s experience is being passed on to his son. David is trying to get his son to see that he must be discerning about people and understand whether they are motivated by personal, ego-driven motives or by God-honoring humble service.

Man, what practical advice David gives Solomon. Stuff he needs to know. Maybe, he already knew or had a feeling about these things but hearing it from his wise, old dad certainly confirmed it. That is what a dad does. We express our love for our children by preparing them for the real world. As dads, it is our duty not to sugar coat the world for our kids. We have a duty to prepare them for the way the world really operates. We do it gradually over time so that when they get out there on their own, they can survive and thrive in a universe that has immutable laws that will not change. Without knowledge of how the world really operates, our children will not survive and thrive. It’s our duty as dads to give them the practical day to day advice that they need to survive in the world. Righty tighty; lefty loosey is just one of them.

Amen and Amen.

1 Kings 2:1-12 (Part 1 of 2)

David’s Final Instructions to Solomon

 

It is funny how sometimes there are moments with your dad that you treasure that seemed just ordinary at the time. There was no grand score of music playing in the background that settled into a scene of culmination in a movie. It was just a dad and his youngest son sitting on the opened gate of dad’s old knock around truck that he used to have for hauling things. Not his primary vehicle but just an old Dodge truck that had outlasted several of his primary vehicles. We were just sitting on the tailgate of the truck, dad and his son. It was a particularly rough time for me. I was going through a divorce and life kind of sucked at the time. I was in a tailspin because all I had known for decade was changed. I was living in the past while walking toward the future. I was dating but none of it was making me complete and fulfilled. Life was just in a nervous state of anxiousness for me. I was living for approval of women and defined myself by that. When there was no evidence of any potential for a long-term relationship, I felt lost and adrift. Even I had been a Christ follower for about 2 ½ years at that point, I was still young and oh so immature in my faith. So, there were so many things, basic things, that God had to change my perspective on. One of the ways God does that is through the advice of godly people in your life.

 

For all my dad’s imperfections, he does love the Lord. He has many human flaws but he is a man of God who served as a preacher in Methodist Churches all over South Carolina for 55 years (as of his retirement a few years ago). And he and I used to have some great talks over the years when it was just me and him. This night was one of those. I was struggling. You know those times when you are so depressed and out of sorts that your body aches. You know those times where it is a struggle to get up in the morning and face another day of the hole that you are in. My dad gave me advice that night that didn’t take hold immediately but I referred back to it over the coming years after that, many times. He was a “suck it up, buttercup” kind of dad and that was part of the advice. I needed to get a hold of myself and move on with life. Dust yourself off and point yourself toward the future. However, the most profound part was when he said that I needed to stop finding my personal value through another person. He said you have let the women in your life define who you are to yourself. He said that I needed to stop that or I was going to be on a rollercoaster for the rest of my life. He said when you make another person your god and allow that person’s feelings toward you define who you are, you are going to live a life of moment to moment with no constancy and no security. When you let someone become your god, you are living a life of works to please and appease that god. It is not what God intended. He said that I needed to learn that I am of great value to God regardless of whether I am in a relationship or single. He gave me advice that I needed to hear.

 

Although I shrugged it off at the time, over time, I realized that my dad was speaking God’s Word to me. It was big picture advice. It was the first commandment – You shall have no other gods before me. I had made the woman in my life, whomever it may have been over the years up to that point, my god. I lived and died by their approval of me. That is making an idol. That is having a god before the Lord God Almighty. It is something that changed my life. I now have a healthy relationship with a woman, my wife, Elena, and it is the first healthy relationship with a woman that I have had in my lifetime. That’s some big picture advice, God speaking through another person, my dad. That was some big picture advice sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up truck at my dad’s lake house some 14 years ago that I still think of today when I get all wrapped up in the need for approval and acceptance. My value come from the Lord not from man (or woman, as the case may be).

 

 

2 As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:

 

2 “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. 3 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. 4 If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’

 

5 “And there is something else. You know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me when he murdered my two army commanders, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace,[a] staining his belt and sandals with innocent blood.[b] 6 Do with him what you think best, but don’t let him grow old and go to his grave in peace.[c]

 

7 “Be kind to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead. Make them permanent guests at your table, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom.

 

8 “And remember Shimei son of Gera, the man from Bahurim in Benjamin. He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was fleeing to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I swore by the Lord that I would not kill him. 9 But that oath does not make him innocent. You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.[d]”

 

10 Then David died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. 11 David had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 Solomon became king and sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.

 

In this passage, we see that David stressed to Solomon the need to make God and his laws the center of personal life and government in order to preserve his kingdom, as God promised to do (see 2 Samuel 7). This promise from God had two parts. One was conditional and dependent on the actions of the one who sat on the throne of Israel. The other part was unconditional. God’s conditional promise was that David and his descendants would remain in office as kings only when they honored and obeyed Him. When David’s descendants failed to do so, they lost the throne (see 2 Kings 25). God’s unconditional promise was that David’s line would go on forever. This was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, whose earthly lineage traces back to David and who is the eternal Son of God (see Romans 1:3-4). David, whose life exemplified an overarching desire to obey the Lord, gave well-seasoned advice to his son, the next king. It would be up to Solomon to follow it.

 

Similarly, my dad gave me some godly advice 14 years ago and it was up to me whether I was going to follow it or not. It was tough to hear but I knew it was true. I had lived my life putting something else before God and as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Not so much, as Chandler on Friends would say. I am sure that when Solomon reflected back on his life in his declining years he went back to this moment in this passage and said I should have followed my dad’s advice. I am sure glad that my Dad’s words, God speaking through him, found their mark in my soul. Although I have my moments where I screw up and do things that are not in God’s will, I do my best to remember every day that big picture advice while sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck. You shall have no other gods before me.

 

Amen and Amen.