In their younger days (and sometimes in their later ones), would flex their muscles, and show off the bulge (even if it was small) of their biceps to their friends. Males, as a general rule, spend much of their lives trying to show their strength. The reality is that for many men, strength is where they find their validity.
Females may not understand that, and that’s okay. Sometimes, guys look at other guys and just shake their heads.
We have carried forward one of those displays as a word-image: saber-rattlers. The basic understanding is that an army would stand before another army, and rattle their sabers in the sheath. As sabers (or swords) did not fit snugly in their sheaths, the gathered rattle of hundreds or even thousands of sabers all at once would make a loud noise.
This display was meant to…avoid battle. Much of the flexing and such that men display is to not fight (physically, at least). The goal is for the other to decide that it’s not worth it. As we all know, physical strength is not everything. Often it is not your strength, but the strength of the ones around you that truly decides the next steps. This is much of the effect of saber-rattling.
Solomon took over the throne of Israel. The military, political, and economic strength he started with wasn’t his. His father, David, had built up the nation mostly with the sword. God determined that the Temple of the Lord could not built by such a person, despite David’s heart orientation toward God.
Solomon had the option to take the same path, but even without the wisdom God bestowed, it seemed that there was an underlying truth that Solomon wasn’t the warlike person that his father was.
Often we model those that appear successful. This is why males tend to continue saber-rattling and flexing…it works.
We often choose to model the behavior that appears successful, or model what we think is the behavior that achieved success. Other times, we are confronted with the fact that we are not that person. Their way of success is not ours.
Solomon did not follows his father’s way of success. He chose a different path.
Peter, James, and John changed their lives, and followed Jesus. They couldn’t recreate the miracle of a fishing trip so successful that it threatened to break the nets.
As part of their following of Jesus, they even lost their way and ran away. Yes, they came back, and then…they chose their path.
Following the heart of Jesus, rather than trying to replicate Jesus. Granted, no one wanted to be crucified. Certainly, though, the miracles they experienced post-Jesus…wouldn’t that be great?
Through those 3, and others, we know who Jesus is. Through those 3, we have the church. Were they alone? No! Yet, in many respects their story is our story…or it should be.
- When have you followed a bad (for you) path of success or acknowledgement?
- How do you balance the modes of success that we have been trained and nurtured in with what your heart, soul, and skills provide?
- How we succeed deeply affects those that follow us. What are ways we as both church and culture need to improve our paths of success to aide those that follow?
Lord, in far too many respects, the signs of your success are beyond are capabilities. Thank you for not calling us to that, but instead to the ways you have designed us for. Help us to honor both the call and the path that you have put before us. Amen.