August 17, 2017

A Model for Masculinity

Thomas Overmiller
Masculinity is not automatic, but it is God’s designed intention for every man. Properly understood, masculinity avoids both the caveman caricature and the effeminate alternative. It embraces the development of the whole man for the purpose of accomplishing God’s will as a leader and servant. The testimony of David as a young man offers fathers and sons alike a timeless model for biblical masculinity.

“Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him” (1 Samuel 16:18).

David was skillful musician. Musical proficiency requires the cultivation of inner discipline that makes diligent practice possible. This kind of approach produces not only proficiency in a particular instrument, but also increased character, mental focus, and expressive ability. These qualities are more important than the instrument itself, and are definitely important aspects for any man to cultivate. Ironically, David played the harp, not the trumpet (1 Samuel 16:23). Our modern conception of this instrument hardly strikes a masculine impression. Nonetheless, full-orbed masculinity does not neglect an appreciation for the finer things of life.

David was a man of strength and honor. He did not spend full days on the harp. As a shepherd, he learned the discipline of labor and the reward of accomplishment. His personal regiment evidently accommodated physical exercise. However, much of this exercise would have occurred in the line of duty itself, and not in a weight room. He was just as much at home on the farm as he was in the conservatory. Wherever he was, he excelled at his assignments. He fulfilled his tasks judiciously and championed in them.

David was a warrior. No matter how you look at it, killing a wild lion in hand-to-hand combat is an incredible feat (1 Samuel 17:34-36). While not every man may have the opportunity or ability to do this, there are certainly opportunities to develop the mental and physical discipline to compete, in a more controlled way. In other words, masculinity embodies playing the harp and playing tackle football, and doing both for mastery.

David was a discerning thinker and speaker. He knew both how to interpret words and to speak them. The biblical record of his life and his written psalms bear witness to this. Throughout his life, he demonstrated the capacity to think and speak in a profound way. His academic prowess and intellectual discernment demonstrates that masculinity includes proficiency both in labor and letters.

David was well-presented. His countenance was bright and alert, and he did not hide his countenance in a slovenly, grungy manner. He carried himself in a way that conveyed dignity and respect. He was professional in his appearance.

David was in fellowship with God. He imbibed, believed, and obeyed the Word of God. By personally and publicly aligning himself with God, he ensured that he was on God’s side of any matter. His life testimony endorsed God and not himself. It is for this reason that God endorsed him.

“And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man (ἄνδρα) after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:22).

Masculinity is under assault. Every Christian father has the responsibility to cultivate biblical masculinity in the heart of his son. Every son has the responsibility to pursue biblical masculinity in his own life. God is looking for men, like David, who are equipped to serve and lead. He is looking for men who are not lop-sided and out of balance in their pursuits and abilities. Above all, He is looking for men who are in fellowship with Him. Thankfully, no father or son is left to pursue masculinity on his own.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

This same Jesus continuously dwells within the life of every Christian man. He can certainly be depended upon for the development of the whole man.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).


Thomas Overmiller serves as a Bible professor at Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.


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