The Power of Godly Legacy

February 20, 2019

Summary: Speaking of material wealth, the Bible teaches: "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children..." (Prov 13:22; ESV) But how do we prepare to pass on spiritual legacy? In this article, apologist, Ben Fischer takes a fresh look at the life of Solomon in order to demonstrate that his most shining moments were the fruit of godly legacy. To sign up to receive future updates, click here.  

Solomon's Wisdom

 

In 1 Kings 3, verses 5, 6 and 9, we read: “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon … and … said: ‘Ask what I shall give you.’ And Solomon said … ‘Give your servant an understanding mind …’” [1]

 

The story of Solomon appears within the pages of scripture as a primary example of a life lived in pursuit of God. Though tarnished by his later lamentable tumble, Solomon began his career in surrender to godly wisdom. As no man before him, Solomon sought that the Lord would give to him a wise and knowing heart. Scripture tells us that God graciously granted his request: “so … Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east …” [2]

 

The life of Solomon gives us something to endeavor towards. It calls us to the pursuit of the knowledge of God. As Solomon later wrote, we must learn the value of humbly seeking the counsel of him. “[I]f you cry out for wisdom … and lift your voice for understanding, then you will … find the knowledge of God,” Solomon stated. [3] For this reason, Solomon began his most famous literary work with the words: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” [4]

 

But where had Solomon learned to prize such virtues? What was the cause of his well developed instincts? The Word of God reveals that the above biblical watchword was by no means original to the “wisest” king in history. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” David exhorted. “Those who practice it will have a good understanding.” [5] Thus, the secret to grasping Solomon’s early success is found in understanding the power of godly legacy.

 

Turning to Proverbs 4, we find this point illumined. We discover fresh insight into the boyhood life of Solomon. There the wise man wrote, describing the sort of counsel he had grown up acquainted to regularly receiving. “When I was a son with my father,” Solomon recounted, “he taught me and said ... ‘Let your heart hold fast my words ...’” [6] “Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” [7]

 

Therefore, in this month’s edition of The Messenger, we will seek to explore the theme of godly legacy. And we will learn the value of raising up children who will develop and grow to cherish the knowledge of God.

 

Lesson 1: Teaching Wisdom

 

We will thus begin by looking to Solomon’s early life. It was an unfortunate saga of intrigue and deceit. By the time he became a teenager, Solomon had witnessed two of his brothers murdered in cold-blooded hate. Throughout his father’s lifetime, the kingdom of Israel had narrowly missed the violent threat of no less than two civil wars. Thus, on his deathbed, the aged David warned him: “Act according to your wisdom…. You will know what you ought to do.” [8]

 

For this reason, it is easy to understand Solomon’s prayer. The newly crowned king had good reason to be afraid. His nation had already multiply demonstrated a willingness to take to arms against his father in order to establish their will. Yet remarkably, Solomon also wished to lead his people rightly, and to teach them to love the Lord their God with all their hearts. For this reason, he humbly petitioned the Lord: “Give you servant an understanding mind … ” [9]  

 

Hence, our first lesson deals with Solomon’s spiritual fervor. It shows us that his prayer was the result of godly training. His troubling circumstances had narrowed his vision, causing him to recognize that his need for God was great. At the same time, his father had also faithfully taught him from the time of his childhood that wisdom was the principal thing. For this reason, Solomon remembered David’s urgings as he prepared his heart to assume the throne of his nation.

 

This then was the secret to Solomon’s prayer. It was the inspiration behind his most historic bidding. Far from being a single isolated event, Solomon’s petition was the fruit of godly legacy. “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go … for she is your life,” David had counseled him. [10] By these sorts of frequent and persistent admonitions, when the critical hour came, Solomon was poised to succeed.

 

This is the key to passing on legacy. It begins long before our children reach age fifty. We preempt their trials by planting seeds that will teach them how to flourish in the midst of life’s proceedings. More than merely passing on basic information, wisdom is about developing skill and dexterity. It is comprehensive knowledge, practiced and applied, which methodically informs our children’s critical decision making.

 

For this reason, scripture soberly exhorts us, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit … down and … rise up.” [11] Faithfully teaching our children the Word of God will eventually bring a harvest, in due season. For as the scriptures teach, we must answer the call to train up our children in obedience to God’s leading.

 

Lesson 2: Showing Wisdom

 

But instilling godly values is only part of our duty. Words without works are not enough to guard our legacy. Not only must we to teach our children wisdom, we must practically demonstrate it in the midst of daily living. This in fact is what we see in David’s life. We see a man who did more than simply urge his children rightly. Rather, we see a father who went far beyond principles by demonstrating wisdom in the context of ruling a nation.

 

Perhaps the prime example would be Absalom’s revolt. The kingdom of Israel was in the midst of gross upheaval. For the second historic time in David’s tragic life, the nation was once again divided over his reign. “Arise, and let us flee, or else there will be no escape for us from Absalom,” David cried. [12] Without a voice of dissent, the sons of David, along with Solomon, fled from Jerusalem in dread haste.    

 

As the royal family ascended the Mount of Olives, David and his sons were met with more bad news. Ziba, servant to the heir of the house of Saul, met him to inform them of further plot twisting intrigue. “Where is your master’s son?” David asked. Ziba replied with the disturbing new news: “Behold, he remains in Jerusalem, for he said, ‘Today the house of Israel will give me back the kingdom of my father’.” [13]

 

At this, David replied: “Behold all that belonged to [the house of Saul] is now yours.” Ziba quickly answered: “I pay homage; let me ever find favor in your sight, my lord the king.” [14] Yet upon successfully stopping the revolt, David was met with yet another conundrum as he safely returned to the city. Mephibosheth, the sole heir to the house of Saul met him and bowed reverently before him at his feet.

 

“My lord, O king, my servant deceived me … He has slandered [me] to my lord the king. But my lord the king is like the angel of God; do therefore what seems good to you. For all my father’s house were but men doomed to death … but you set your servant among those who eat at your table. What further right have I then to cry before the king?” [15] There Mephibosheth lay as he entreated David fearfully.

 

What therefore was David to do? How could he sort this perplexing situation? Had Ziba told the truth about Mephibosheth? Or was Mephibosheth now entreating David sincerely? At the moment, there seemed no way to tell. How could David be infallibly certain? Clearly, this was a very troubling situation, for if David trusted the son of Saul, the rebellion could start again.

 

Therefore, David sought to act in wisdom. “Why speak anymore of your affairs?” he sharply stated. “I have decided: You and Ziba shall divide the land.” With a stroke, the choice was made. Yet at this, Mephibosheth, the son of Saul cried: “Oh, let him take it all, since my lord the king has come home safely.” [16] Thus in an instant, the deceiver was revealed! The man who had lied had unmistakably been Ziba!

 

Mephibosheth henceforth remained before David. He lived out the rest of his days as one of the king’s companions. As often as the king ate with his lordly subjects, David could see that there was nothing blameworthy in him. Mephibosheth had forsaken his inheritance to remain faithful to Israel. In this way, David proved the son of Saul was innocent. Clearly, he could be trusted to deal with the king truthfully!

 

This was the sort of wisdom which David imbibed. It characterized his conduct as he sought to lead his nation. Not only so, but for all who had eyes to see, David was teaching lessons in discernment! Thus it was said of David that he had wisdom like the "wisdom of the angel of God" to "know all things that are on the earth.” [17] This was the foundation of David’s family legacy. It was something he carried with him his whole life.

 

For this reason, Solomon was well prepared to lead his people. When the time came to rule, he entreated the Lord for wisdom. Then, when later challenged, he passed the test easily. Through David’s example, Solomon succeeded. Two mothers appeared before Solomon claiming that the other had been responsible for her child’s untimely death. Both had been prostitutes, sleeping with their infants. One of the children died as the two women slept. The text records:

 

“Oh, my lord….  this woman's son died … because she lay on him … And she arose at midnight and took my son … and laid her dead son at my breast. When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.” [18]

 

In this way, the two women carried on fiercely. The situation seemed beyond all human discernment. Just as in the case of Mephibosheth’s servant, it was one woman’s word against the other. For this reason, Solomon seemed to draw from David’s example. “Bring me a sword,” he sharply said. “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” [19]

 

At this, the child’s true mother cried out to Solomon. “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” The woman wept sore as she fervently pleaded. But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” At this, the king answered, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” [20]

 

Immediately, the nation stood in awe at his judgment. They could easily see that Solomon was well able to lead. The text reads: “And all Israel heard the judgement and … stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.” [21] Therefore, through David, Solomon became equipped and was able to resist from being swayed or deceived.

 

This is how we pass on godly legacy. God calls us to thoroughly live what we teach. Though we may be imperfect (as David certainly was!), we can also seek to demonstrate prudence, while we lead. Through teaching and telling of the importance of wisdom, David taught Solomon to value the same. Through godly demonstration, the lesson was caught and Solomon went on to succeed and garner fame.

 

Therefore, may you prayerfully seek God on how to pass on your legacy. And like David with Solomon, may you not only tell, but also show, how to apply what you teach. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Postscript: On February 12th, our son, Aaron Asher Fischer celebrated his 6th birthday. Happy birthday Aaron! We dedicate this month’s equipping letter to you. May you grow up to love and cherish the wisdom of God. Make us proud young man! Love you son.

 

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End Notes:

 

[1]. ESV

[2]. 1 Ki 4:30; ESV

[3]. Prov 2:3-6; NKJV

[4]. Prov 1:7; ESV

[5]. Psa 111:10; ESV

[6]. Prov 4:3-5; ESV

[7]. Prov 4:7; NIV

[8]. 1 Ki 2:6, 9; ESV

[9]. 1 Ki 3:9; ESV

[10]. Prov 4:13; ESV

[11]. Deu 6:6-7; NASB

[12]. 2 Sam 15:14; ESV

[13]. 2 Sam 16: 3-4; ESV

[14]. 2 Sam 16:4; ESV

[15]. 2 Sam 19: 26-30; ESV

[16]. 2 Sam 19:29-30; ESV

[17]. 2 Sam 14:20; ESV

[18]. 1 Ki 3:17-21; ESV

[19]. 1 Ki 3:24-25; ESV

[20]. 1 Ki 3:26-27; ESV

[21]. 1 Ki 3:28; ESV

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