The Father: David—Instruct Your Sons
By Joel Hilliker
One of the greatest men of the Bible, David, scored prodigious achievements as a poet, musician, warrior, administrator, builder and king that are worthy of study by every man. Here we will consider his legacy as a father.
Because of mistakes in his life—mistakes God recorded for us to learn from—David had terrible problems with his sons. He neglected to raise them properly and failed to train them well. His son Absalom led a revolt to steal his throne. Later his son Adonijah did the same thing.
God laid much of the blame on David. 1 Kings 1:6 reveals that David never restrained Adonijah or held him accountable for his actions. The Moffatt translation reads, “His father had never checked him all his life, by asking what he meant by his conduct.” Surely the same was true of Absalom. Correction from Dad would have been a great blessing to these young men, and their lives suffered for lack of it.
Rearing a prince for God takes real work. You must observe your son closely. You must educate him in right behavior. You must be attuned to his weaknesses and commit to helping him overcome them. And you must restrain him at times. If you don’t, he will end up bringing shame on himself, on your family, and on you.
One of David’s strengths was that he learned from his mistakes. After the disasters with Absalom and Adonijah, David sought to do a much better job fulfilling his responsibility in raising his son Solomon.
David clearly worked to prepare Solomon for the responsibilities of manhood and kingship. He spent time educating him (see Proverbs 4:1-4). He taught Solomon all about God. He instilled within his son a real respect for God’s fantastic promise of a kingly throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16; 1 Kings 3:5-6). He trained in him a wonderful humility and submissiveness to God (verses 7-9). He shared with Solomon his own passion for building a house for God. He had prepared abundantly for that spectacular construction project, and Solomon dutifully carried it out after his father’s death. The way that Solomon prayed at the temple’s dedication shows that his father had well conveyed to him its profound spiritual significance (1 Kings 8:22-53).
Just before he died, in the last of what must have been many fatherly training sessions, David sought to give his son the most important wisdom he could, a summary of the deepest lessons of kingship: “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 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, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself” (1 Kings 2:2-3).
What wonderful instruction. David directed his son to avoid the sins of his brothers and to establish an obedient relationship with God that would enable God to bless and prosper him.
This is how to be a real man. If you want to be truly, genuinely masculine, this is how. If you want to teach your son how to be a man, this is the lesson he must learn and apply.
This was David’s advice to Solomon. Heed these foundational words, and follow David’s fatherly example. Teach your son to show himself a man.