Some of us may remember the song, “Walk Like a Man”, by The Four Seasons. Even if you weren’t a teenager in 1963, you may have heard it – or a remake of it – in the past. The song describes a dad giving his son advice. Whether or not you agree with this advice, the record was hot for a while. In fact, Wikipedia1 suggests that the room above the studio was literally on fire while the song was being recorded!
In the book of 1 Kings, the aged king David was giving instructions to his own son, Solomon. (Well, actually, David had a lot of kids, but Solomon was the one who would succeed him as king of Israel.)
“I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go
1 Kings 2:2-3 NIV
This could be an article about masculinity – what it means to be a man. Or, more like the point that Frankie Valli sang about, we could talk about how Solomon should have probably stuck with just one wife who loved God, and not let hundreds of wives (at least some, of those with with pagan beliefs) lead him down a path away from the God who had given him incredible wisdom and wealth. (If you’re a writer, yourself, let me know if you publish your take on either of those points. I’d be interested in reading what you have to say.)
However, today, let’s take a look at the middle part of this verse. What does David call his son to do? It’s pretty simple: Solomon should live a life of obedience to God. That’s all there is to it: Obey God, and things work more like what He designed (barring the corruption that humankind continues to feed into this world through rebellion against God’s direction). Or, we could disobey God, but we should expect the same results as driving down a busy highway going the wrong direction.
For sharp-eyed readers who note that David was giving this instruction in the context of the Law of Moses (who no one but Jesus lived out perfectly here on earth), consider these words of Jesus Christ:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:9-12 NIV
Note that Jesus identifies a specific command at the end of this verse. There definitely seems to be a strong relationship between loving God (and others), and obeying the commands of God. In fact, passages like John 14:15 and Matthew 22:35-40 pretty much say exactly that!
If we have children (whether as a dad, mom, other relative, caregiver, or mentor), this is a simple and powerful message that we can pass down to them. Yes, learning to tie their shoes and say “thank you” is important. However, following Jesus (God the Son), as He followed the principles of right and wrong that reflect the very nature of God the Father, makes a far larger difference.
Once someone has decided to accept Jesus as Lord (i.e., recognizing that Jesus is someone with the sovereign right to specify what we should be doing), it seems only correct that we obey Him so out of respect and duty. However, once we start to experience God’s love, we observe that He wants us to receive blessings, and we realize that His goal for us is to experience the best life that He has prepared for us (maximizing what He has entrusted to us, in order to be part of his incredible plan). Now, we see that His commands are actually beneficial to us and others, as well. As we move into the enjoyment of an amazing family relationship with Him, then it becomes clear that our only logical response (short of being an ungrateful freeloader) must be showing our love in return.
So, if you are responsible for others, pass this invaluable life lesson on to them – both in words, and by example. And, if no one ever taught you (or showed you) what this looks like – nor the rewards and joys of obeying God – please accept the wisdom of highly successful and blessed people from the past, who knew that this was the path to success.