When our first born son turned 20, we did a "Celebration of Biblical Manhood" and invited 12 men who had invested in him. We rented a room at Steak & Ale and had a sort of "Knights of the Round Table". It was an awesome evening. I wrote the following letter to him on 7.7.1997
As I sit here and begin to write this letter, there are many thoughts and emotions which go through my mind as I remember and reflect on these past twenty years of your life. I am quickly reminded of the Scripture in James 4:14 which says, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” I am amazed at how quickly twenty years have passed. Proverbs 10:1 says, “A wise son makes a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” David, you are making us and many others glad and we thank you.
Several days ago when I was spending some time with the Lord in the Word, He led me to some passages in the Old Testament that seem to identify when a boy became a man in the eyes of God. In Numbers 1, the Lord spoke to Moses after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, and He told him to take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel. He wanted the congregation numbered by their families, their father’s houses, according to the number of names, every male individually and this is the verse that caught my attention -- verse 3 -- “from twenty years old and above all who are able to go to war in Israel.” God made a distinction in males when they became twenty years old. That was the age at which there was a greater responsibility and a higher accountability. David, as you reach this milestone today, I challenge you to greater and higher responsibility.
In reading I Samuel 16 I observed nine characteristics in the life of David, after whom you were named, and I share them with you with the hope that you too will be a man after God’s own heart.
1. Be An Example in Your Youth
In verse 11 it says that David was the youngest of all the sons of Jesse. Even though you are not the youngest in our family, I want to encourage you with the words of Paul from I Timothy 4:12-16, “Let no man despise your youth, but be an example of the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” David, you are a good example and I encourage you to press on even more to be an example and a leader for our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Be Faithful in the Routines of Life
In verse 11 it says that David was “keeping the sheep.” The way this speaks to me is that David was faithful in the routine and mundane tasks and responsibilities of life. On a day that he never expected, he was called by God to go from keeping the sheep to be anointed as the next king of Israel. You will discover that one of the ways of God is to have His children prove their faithfulness in the little things before He gives them greater responsibilities. Keep being faithful in little things (Matthew 25:21,23; Luke 16:10-12).
3. Walk with a Clear Conscience
In verse 12 it says that David had “a beautiful countenance” or bright eyes. As you may know, a beautiful or bright countenance comes from a pure heart and a clear, clean conscience. Someone once said that a clear conscience is the “inner radiance of a transparent life.” I encourage you, David, to have no hidden, unconfessed areas of sin in your life. When you walk with purity of heart, there will be brightness in your eyes and your countenance will reflect the glory of God. That is the thing that will be very attractive to God and other people.
4. Remember the Lord Looks on the Heart
In verse 12 it says that David was “good looking”. I believe, David, that God has designed you with handsome features. This design and these features are not to be used for your own purposes but are to be used for the glory of God. You will discover that God will open up unusual doors of opportunity as you present your body a living sacrifice for Him. You must never forget the truth of I Samuel 16:7 which says, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” David, God is interested in a pure heart, a loyal heart, a servant heart, an undivided heart, and a heart that thirsts for Him.
5. Be a Man of Praise and Worship
In verse 18 it says that David was “skillful in playing.” He loved music. He wrote many psalms. He was a man of praise and worship. As you may know, music and worship is to play an important part in the life of a man of God. I exhort you to listen to and play music that glorifies the Lord and refreshes your soul and spirit as opposed to music that is oppressive and distressing to the soul. It is interesting in verse 23 when David played for Saul it says that Saul would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from Him. Be a man of praise and worship.
6. Be Strong, Be Brave, Be Courageous
In verse 18 it says that David was “a mighty valiant man” or a man of valor - a brave man. I exhort you, David, as Paul exhorted Timothy, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus ... endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”(2 Timothy 2:1-4). There will be times when the enemy of your soul will seek to make you afraid, but I exhort you be strong, be brave, be courageous, and don’t give into the lust of the flesh, the callings of the world, or the oppression of the wicked one. Take a stand and don’t yield to the pressure that will constantly and relentlessly come upon you. Be willing to stand alone.
7. Be a Man of War
David, as I mentioned it will be critical for you to learn how to war against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). You certainly know well that there are three constant enemies against our soul: the world, the flesh, and the devil. You will discover that these three enemies never stop. They will always be attempting to conquer you, but you must daily and continuously war and triumph in Christ. I Corinthians 15:57-58 says, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.
8. Be a Prudent Man
Verse 18 says that David was “prudent in matters.” The word prudent means “to separate mentally or to distinguish, to understand.” In other words, David was able to discern and distinguish between good and evil in many matters. I exhort you as well to be a man of prudence, a man who will be able to separate right from wrong, a man who is full of wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Your source of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding will come from and through the fear of the Lord. Spend much time alone with the Lord in His Word. Daily ask for wisdom and understanding in all you do.
9. Never Forget --The Lord is With You
I believe, David, this is the most significant characteristic of not only King David, but of every man of God through history who has been and is being used by God. They recognize the Lord is with them. If you do a careful study of great men of God, there is a keen awareness of the presence and the power of the Lord in their lives. As you may know, Joseph, in Genesis, is one of my favorite leaders and what it says of him in many different places is “the Lord was with him” (Genesis 39:2,3,21,23). Invite the Lord to be an active part in everything you do and your life and ways will prosper.
David, as you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God all the days of your life, determine to always give God the glory, and as you live your life in dependence upon His grace and power, God will do exceeding abundantly above anything that you could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). Trust Him for it.
I welcome you and challenge you to this new stage of biblical manhood.
I love you deeply,