A person’s last words seem to be significant to people. The last words of Leonardo Da Vinci were reported to be: “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” Groucho Marx gave one last witty remark: “This is no way to live!” And the last words reported to have been spoken by Winston Churchill were: “I’m bored with it all” – and nine days late he died at the age of 90.
Contrast those last words with those of King David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 23
“The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me; his word was on my tongue. The God of Israel spoke, the protector of Israel spoke to me. The one who rules fairly among men, the one who rules in the fear of God, is like the light of morning when the sun comes up, a morning in which there are no clouds. He is like the brightness after rain that produces grass from the earth. My dynasty is approved by God, for he has made a perpetual covenant with me, arranged in all its particulars and secured. He always delivers me, and brings all I desire to fruition. But evil people are like thorns – all of them are tossed away, for they cannot be held in the hand. The one who touches them must use an iron instrument or the wooden shaft of a spear. They are completely burned up right where they lie!” (2 Samuel 23:2-7 NET).
As David left this world, two thoughts were foremost in his mind: his God and his dynasty. These two were so intertwined that David could speak of them together. And it shouldn’t surprise us that it was Hebrew poetry – he was, after all, “Israel’s beloved singer of songs” (2 Samuel 23:1).
Although David’s reign was not perfect, he knew what a good ruler needed to be. First and foremost he needed to “rule in the fear of God.” Without his reign grounded in God, he could not have been a good ruler. Perhaps he was thinking about his son Solomon who would succeed him. As Solomon began his reign, these words are echoed in his request of God for wisdom.
Notice how David described a fair ruler: he is like the first rays of light on a clear morning and like the brightness after rain. Someone who is fair brings light to those who are around him, a beautiful light, something that is refreshing.
Contrast this with David’s description of those who are evil: they are like thorns. Have you ever tried to grasp a rose bush or a thorny branch? You can’t do it! The pain is too great as the thorns pierce your hand. This, David said, is what evil people are like. Their only use: to be “completely burned up right where they lie.”
David was very aware of his relationship with God. He knew his dynasty had God’s approval because God and made a perpetual covenant with him. Although David did not understand the particulars, he knew that God had everything taken care of. And one thousand years later his descendant who would ruler an eternal kingdom was born in the city of David, Bethlehem.
Although David couldn’t see the details of the Messiah who was his ultimate descendant, he was confident that God could bring it about because “He always delivers me, and brings all I desire to fruition.”
What wonderful last words! Confidence in God and confidence in God’s promises.
May we have the same confidence that God will always do what he says. May we live a life that is refreshing to those around us.
Readings for next week:
24 December – Psalm 147
25 December – No readings for today
26 December – Psalm 148-149
27 December – 2 Samuel 23; Psalm 9
28 December – 1 Chronicles 29; Psalm 150