Show Yourself a Man
“I am about to go the way of all the earth. So be strong and show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.”
-1 Kings 2:2
“Be watchful. Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. Be strong.”
-1 Corinthians 16:13
In the time of David and the early Israelite kingdom, there were two invasion routes that the Philistines generally followed if they wanted to penetrate the central hill country, considered the heartland of the Hebrews. These were the Elah Valley and the Rephaim Valley. That general area was referred to as the Pasdammim, or the “Palm of Blood.” Some translations render it as “Boundary of Blood.”
This was where David fought Goliath. It was where innumerable invasions from aggressively violent armies had to be stopped. There was no ability to negotiate for truce or turn the other cheek.
If the enemy had penetrated that far, the commanders of the Israelite armies knew that they were about to face a last stand situation. It was the place men went to die.
That morning a husband and father would eat breakfast with his family. That night, his wife would be a widow and his children fatherless. If the battle itself was lost, the chances were high that she would be raped repeatedly in front of her children before being slaughtered, and the children themselves sold into slavery. (I don’t write with politically correct “trigger warnings,” just a head’s up).
When the men got orders from tribal elders to appear at the Pasdammim, everyone in the village knew what that meant, and there is no evidence of any kind that they thought, “We need to send our wives and mothers out there.” It would have been unthinkably evil and cowardly. (They did, however, expect their wives to fight to the death if the enemy made it to the village).
In the Old Testament and New Testament we see the emphasis of two words when it comes to understanding what it means to “be a man:”
Some through the years have wrongly used them to denigrate the value and importance of women, which is complete nonsense.
Instead, what we are looking at is two words from two different languages, separated by time and culture but one in meaning:
Both refer directly to manhood. There’s no way around it, despite the painful wrangling from revisionist linguists who are determined to prove their worldview instead of understanding the plain textual meaning of the original writers.
There is a direct correlation to between becoming a man and having the duty to be watchful, stand firm, and be strong, as the apostle Paul wrote and King David charged his son Solomon.
Does that mean women cannot be those things? The answer, of course, is no. They can be those things and are. The Bible has multiple examples of courageous women. My wife is a courageous woman and I learn a lot about valor by watching her in action. That’s a nonstarter and a straw man attack only used by those who have an opposite agenda and want to avoid engaging in deeper discussion on the matter.
The meaning represented in those words as they appear in the Bible is that there is something explicitly masculine in stepping out, shielding, and protecting in a manner that assumes first absorption of any arrows that are flying, any threats that are emerging, and any suffering that must be done. It’s the dad who gets up and investigates the bump in the night. It’s the boyfriend who throws himself on top of his girlfriend when a maniac is shooting up a movie theater.
If, in the name of equality, the men had cast aside the women and children on the Titanic and filled up the lifeboats, there would have been generational outrage. People know this by instinct. They just choose to ignore it when it’s convenient to their agenda.
Based on those Hebrew and Greek words, manhood can be understood in a few ways, although the list is not exhaustive:
It is not a macho shout for more beer to the woman in the kitchen. It is a heavy, iron-sharpened resolve to humbly declare to the Evil that seeks to devour the innocent, “This far and no further.”
It is not loving violence and destruction. It is the willingness to suffer through it on behalf of others.
It is not selfish ambition to climb ladders. It is the engagement of your skill set to achieve the position from which it is best to serve the Lord with whatever time you have.
It is not demanding submission from a woman. It is inviting one of them to be your battle partner in life to threaten the Enemy alongside, to share the victories and defeats, the triumphs and sorrows, and if you are so called and blessed, to raise up young ‘arrows’ who also threaten that Enemy.
I have stared into the face of the dragon. A dragon who devours young girls trapped in prostitution and appears on the face of a man selling them while smiling and putting down a tequila shot. A dragon who rages through the hearts and minds of men addicted to pornography. A dragon who fights in the sunlight under the banner of Achievement and Success, and who fights in the shadows cloaked in the darkness of our own lust for destruction.
As the great warrior Joshua once said after a lifetime of serving a selfish and stubborn nation who almost certainly did not appreciate what he had done for them, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Brothers, may we be willing to march to the Boundary of Blood. May we be willing to watch our own be shed defending the last rock between the Enemy and what we love.
Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.