A Father’s Son
Brian D. Dykstra, Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI.
Proverbs 4:3-4: “For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.”
Solomon continues to explain why we should listen attentively to the instruction he gives. We noticed last time that the doctrine Solomon gave was good and that we should not forsake the law. He now points out that the understanding he desires us to obtain is the same as that which he obtained because of the instruction of his parents.
Solomon speaks first of his father, David, “For I was my father’s son.” David had many sons. We know little about several of them, but what we know about three of David’s sons troubles us.
There was Amnon, a source of great shame to the family. He lusted after his sister Tamar, sinfully plotted with his confidant about fulfilling his evil desire, forced Tamar to be a participant in his sin against the seventh commandment, then finally threw her out of his house, hated her and refused to ask for her to become his wife. What must the people have thought about David’s family when news of this despicable story spread? What a source of shame a son such as Amnon was! Amnon’s behaviour must have caused the people to regard him as nothing but a fool. Amnon’s heart did not retain David’s words about keeping the commandments.
Then there was Absalom. He sinfully rebelled against his father and caused the deaths of many thousands as he fought to take David’s throne for himself. He was brazen in his sin. David had left ten of his concubines behind to maintain the palace. Absalom took advantage of these women and used them in his adultery to show how extreme was his despising of his own father. Absalom did not retain David’s words either. He also did not live.
Finally, we mention Adonijah. He attempted to take the throne just as his brother Absalom had done. He recruited the help of several influential people in the kingdom, such as Joab, as he stubbornly resisted what he knew to be David’s choice, God’s choice actually, that Solomon should be Israel’s next king. He also walked in the foolish way of sin and died violently.
David had not displeased these sons by telling them, “no.” I Kings 1:6 reads, “And his father had not displeased him [that is, Adonijah] at any time in saying, why hast thou done so?” How much of these family troubles, then, must be placed at David’s feet because of how he raised these sons? In today’s language, we might say David wanted to be a “cool dad.” David did not refuse his sons anything they wanted.
But Solomon claims for himself, “I was my father’s son,” just as Isaac was Abraham’s son, not Ishmael. Jacob was Isaac’s son, not Esau. Solomon was David’s son in a manner in which his full- and half-brothers were not. Had David learned, through bitter experience with the three sons previously mentioned, that he had better change his tactics in raising Solomon?
Solomon states he was “only beloved in the sight” of his mother. Bathsheba and David recognized God had set Solomon apart even at the time of Solomon’s birth. The prophet Nathan came and revealed that God had a different name for Solomon, Jedediah, “Beloved of the Lord.” God had singled out this son to be the next king and had renamed him. We too have been given new names. We, who were children of the devil by nature, are now called after the name of Christ, Christians, because we have been redeemed by grace.
The matter of Solomon’s instruction then took on primary importance for David and Bathsheba. Although Solomon was a prince, his parents saw to it that he studied his books, God’s Word, in preparation for the time when he would rule. Christian parents, out of true love for their children, will instruct them in the fear of God. They are not ashamed to instruct them according to the old paths of God’s truth so ridiculed by the world.
David instructed Solomon to have his heart retain his words. What might these words have been? God told David that Solomon would be a man of peace and head a kingdom at rest. David would not have to pass on instruction about military tactics. We have an idea from I Kings 2 when David, near his death, tells Solomon to “shew thyself a man.” How? Exercise? Buy the fastest chariot? Party? No, not even close. David says, “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 ...” Solomon was to show he was a man by living a godly life.
This is what Solomon was to retain in his heart. This way of life must be sincere, not merely an external show. The same is true of keeping the commandments. God knows our motives. In this way Solomon would live, unlike his three foolish brothers who died before their times.
May our students also retain their parents words, words of instruction given them out of love for them and God’s truth, words godly parents have instituted this school to teach, that covenant children will keep God’s commandments out of gratitude for redemption in Jesus Christ and live.