Think with me for a moment: if you were on your deathbed, with your children standing around you, what would you say? If you knew that you could no longer ward off death but had enough vitality to say a few final words, which words would you choose?
I can think of no better words than those recorded for us in 1 Kings 2:1-9. David is at the end of his forty-year reign, and his death is imminent. He brings his son Solomon, the future King of Israel, to his side and leaves him with words of wisdom.
I’ve broken down “David’s Dying Words” into five short commands, and we’ll observe each one over the next five weeks. As always, reflection questions are provided with each Wednesday’s Word if you want to use this as a resource for your personal devotion or a small group.
1. Know Your Source of Strength
“Be strong, and show yourself a man.” (1 Kings 2:2).
Let me first tell you what David isn’t saying: “Make sure you pump lots of iron, hunt and fish the biggest game, speak with a deep voice, and intimidate people.” This first instruction has nothing to do with being a “macho-man.”
David’s definition of strength and masculinity has everything to do with the Lord. David was a man who knew where strength was to be found. He was a king who knew where courage was to be found. He was a leader who knew the reason for being decisive. But none of his confidence was in his own strength.
David talked of God being his strength (Psalm 28:7); he understood the theology of strength. What’s that theology? Here it is: as a child of God, your strength is not in the quality of your intellect, or the variety of your experience, or in your physical muscles, or the force of your personality. Your strength is found in the Lord Almighty, who has made you His child.
David didn’t just know that theology of strength in his head; he knew it by experience. This is the young man who walked down into the valley of Elah after the Army of Israel, for forty days, had been afraid, and said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37).
If you want more on the theology of strength in the life of David, you can check out my sermon on David and Goliath:
What is your definition of strength? I’m not talking about the Merriam-Webster definition; I mean the “rubber-hits-the-road” definition. Is your confidence defined by your own successes and strengths? Or is your confidence shaped by your potential in Christ Jesus?
As David is passing away, he wants Solomon to know where true strength is found. The next four commands won’t make any sense unless Solomon is strong. And David wants his boy to know Strength.
Paul David Tripp
- Spend some time searching for passages about strength. The Psalms are a great place to start.
- How would your culture define strength? How does that clash with the definition of strength in Scripture?
- What are some of your own strengths? Are you ever tempted to rely on those instead of Christ?
- How can you grow in your practical theology of Strength?