A Charge to Keep

“Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, ‘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: that the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.’” – 1 Kings 2:1-4 (KJV, emphasis mine)
As I considered the topic for this week’s blog, I found myself returning to my early roots of worship as a child in the church. Our tradition of worship was rooted in rich, traditional black gospel music. Songs like Charles A. Tindley's We Will Understand it Better By and By, Leave It There, and Thomas Dorsey's Peace in the Valley, which is the first gospel recording to sell a million copies. I remember well singing James Cleveland's Peace Be Still, God Has Smiled on Me and I Stood on the Banks of Jordan.

While I could continue my reverie for an extended period of time, let’s transition to the topic at hand. In my tradition the church service begin by a powerful rendition from the deacons. This practice was initiated when historically, black Pastors had multiple congregations and would travel from one location to the next. The deacons would lead the congregation in song until the Pastor could arrive. One of the most consistent songs that our Deacons would sing when opening the service with was Reverend Timothy Flemming's A Charge to Keep. Lock on to these lyrics:
A charge to keep I have, God to glorify.
A never dying soul to save, and fit it for the sky.
To serve to present age, my calling to fulfill.
O may it all my powers engage to do my Master's will!

These lyrics echo the powerful exhortation presented by King David upon his preparation for promotion (death followed by eternity with His God). In today’s scripture, our text turns us to the only king in Israelite history to be called a man after God's own Heart, the sweet psalmist, David. On his death bed he gave his beloved son Solomon a charge to keep. Let’s review some terms that will assist us in grasping the gravity of David 's charge to Solomon.
Prosperous = to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable; synonymous with success
Strong = to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore
Man = male (in contrast to woman, female), husband, human being, person (in contrast to God), servant, mankind, champion, great man

Keep = keep, have charge of; to keep, guard, keep watch and ward, protect, save life

Charge = guard, charge, function, obligation, service, watch

Ways = direction; manner, habit, way of course of life (fig.)

Commandments = mandated directives

Judgments = judgment, justice, ordinance

Testimonies = Usually testimonies, the precepts of God as opposed to the precepts of man.

David entreated his son using strong and emphatic language that encouraged him to be resolute in his resolve to honor the Lord in all his ways. This exhortation is also applicable to our lives. Join me again next week when we will explore some spiritual exercises that will help us stay true to the charge that we should keep.

For the Glory of God,