1 Kings 2:2
I go the way of all the earth: be you strong therefore, and show yourself a man;
The last words of any one, as he takes his departure for the eternal world, are always of interest to those left behind. Even the last utterances of the criminal on the scaffold will be read by thousands, who would not have listened to one word of his when he stood begging at their door. The last words of great and good men, when spoken to those near and dear to them, are therefore of especial interest.
I. THE CHARGE OF THE DYING FATHER. It is that of a king to his successor, who is soon to ascend the throne of Israel. The position is so responsible, the charge will be long and weighty. But no; how short the address, how few the directions — "Show thyself a man" Be a man, that is all. Yes, but that is everything. Be a man, such as God made; not the distorted, crooked, perverted creature sin has made.
II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS CHARGE. Vir was the word the Romans used for man, and from which our word virtue comes. Virtue, too, with them meant courage, heroism. Whatever therefore is virtuous is manly. Truthfulness is a virtue, and therefore manly. God is truth. Man is most manly when most like God, for he was made in the image of God. Honesty is paying our just debts, paying honour to whom honour is due, exercising supreme love to God, and loving our fellow-men as ourselves (Matthew 22:27). Hence, a true man, a real man, must be a Christian and a gentleman. Temperance, patience, kindness, gentleness, unselfishness, are all virtues, and therefore manly. The gentleman's code of honour is found in Philippians 4:8.
III. THE FOUNDATION OF MANHOOD IS STRENGTH. Strength of purpose, will-power, determination, self-control, power to resist popular customs when wrong, prevalent vices that have become aristocratic, fashions and habits of evil that have fastened on people whom you consider above you in age, experience, and profession; power to be called eccentric, odd, queer, to be sneered at. You need a courage that will not dilly-dally with evil, but at the first solicitation say "no," that will "dare to do right, dare to be true." Hence in this brief charge the very first accents are, " Be thou strong." David knew it required strength.
IV. THE SOURCE OF THIS STRENGTH IS IN GOD. Moses, Joshua, Paul, Luther, Wesley, were men of mighty power, and they all found their strength in God.
V. THE IMPORTANT AIM OF THIS CHARGE WAS THE RIGHT DEVELOPMENT AND FORMATION OF CHARACTER. This should be the first aim of every young man. This is the first aim of the Gospel, now so often overlooked in this busy, bustling, noisy age. Paul's first; instruction to Timothy was, "Take heed unto thyself." Deceit, falsehood, lust, etc., are all intruders. Cast them out, show thyself. Let not the animal reign, but the man. Be a man, and then you will be what every true man is — a king.
(G. H. Smyth.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;