This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. But the spoken words of one generation to the next were even more important in the Bible. There are numerous records of fathers’ last words to their sons and leaders sharing their final thoughts with their people such as Jacob’s departing words to his 12 sons (Gen. 49) and Moses’ farewell speech at the border of the Promised Land (Ex. 33:1-34:8). The Book of Proverbs also contains many admonitions to sons to continue to follow their father’s instructions and the Lord’s commands (Pr. 1:8, 10, 15; 2:1; 3:1;11:4; 4:10, 20; 5:1, 7; 6: 1, 3, 20 and more!). If you were to survey most parents I’m sure the reason for this would be evident. No parent wants to see their children make the same mistakes they did. They hope that what they learned from those mistakes will be put to good use by their children. They also want to see their children avoid the fall-out from their mistakes a sentiment expressed by the Lord Himself when He brought the Law to Moses (Ex. 34:6-7).
When you look at the monarchy in the Book of Kings it becomes very apparent as to how important this is and it makes the words of wisdom passed on from David to Solomon even more powerful- a picture whose thousands words are worth as many ounces of gold when it comes to passing on lessons learned from life to the next generation (Prov. 25:11). Iain Provan said it this way, “The Book of Kings is not only a narrative about the past. It is also a narrative that seeks to teach its readers a number of things about God and His ways. That is, the Book of Kings tells us about Israel’s past, not so that we should become better informed about it in some abstract intellectually detached way, but so that we should learn from it (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).” Simply put David’s words (and many others’ as well) seem not only to be recorded for Solomon but for us too.
It is interesting to note that as David imparts his final words to Solomon he draws heavily upon the Lord’s admonition to Joshua when he assumes the mantle of leadership from Moses ( Be strong: 1 Kin. 2:2; Jos. 1:6-7, 9; Follow the Lord: 2 Kin. 2:3; Jos. 1:7; A total commitment: 2 Kin. 2:4; Jos. 1:3). The reason for doing so is so that Solomon will prosper as king and the Lord will keep His promise to David (2 Kin. 2:3-4; Jos. 1:3; Dt. 9:5; 29:9; 2 Sam. 7:11-16). In short David’s final words to Solomon can be divided into three segments: What to do (vv. 1-3); Why you must do it (v. 4); and some personal requests concerning people who either helped David or opposed him during his tenure as king (vv. 5-9). David’s “thousand words” are a picture of a life well-lived because it is completely lived for the Lord.
I often think of my father in this respect. He wasn’t one to specifically talk about living God’s way but you could see it in everything he did. The week before my father died I was able to spend a lot of time with him. Parkinson’s Disease had slowly taken over his earthly body but the father I knew and loved was still housed in that “war-torn” shell. He slept a lot and speaking sapped him of strength so I let him rest. I spent a lot of time remembering the things we had done together and many of the things he had done for me like building a doll house from a picture in a toy catalog, traveling to West Virginia to check out colleges because that’s where I wanted to go and the way he had stood by my mother when she struggled with alcoholism. There are many final addresses out there in cyber-world but most of us will not remember people by what they said, rather we will remember them by what they did. David recognized that words only have authenticity if they are lived out in our lives. In other words, our words must match the picture- that is they must agree with what people see. My father’s words matched his picture.
The questions before me today is, “How do I want to be remembered? What do I want my picture to look like?” I want my thousand words to be a reflection of Christ and a tribute to both Him and the earthly father who exemplified His love. I want to take David’s admonitions to Solomon and apply them to my own life as I live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. I want my picture to be like that of my father’s; one whose words picture humor, ingenuity, unselfish love, perseverance, grace in the midst of disappointment and struggle. I want to walk alongside the great heroes of the Faith in Hebrews 11 when I am remembered by my family and those who follow after me. And with the Lord’s help that is exactly what my picture will say (Rom. 8:26-29; Phil. 4:13).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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