By David Faust
My wife, Candy, recently celebrated an important birthday. I shouldn’t identify the milestone she hit, but it rhymes with “mix tea.” I hit the same milestone a few months earlier, so I felt it was my husbandly duty to tease her about it.
Obviously 60 year olds have lived 60 percent of a century—but they have also lived 6 percent of a millennium! In fact, I reminded Candy that out of the 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth, she has been alive 3 percent of the time! (My sweet wife was unimpressed by these fascinating mathematical insights.)
How do we make the most of our time on this earth? Bob Russell told a story about a man who had only six months to live. The fellow’s doctor suggested he marry a widow with 12 children. “Will that make me live longer?” the man asked. “No,” the doctor replied, “but it will seem longer.”
In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker argued that human beings try to avoid the finality of death any way we can, but King David couldn’t deny his own physical decline. No longer a vigorous shepherd strong enough to fight lions, bears, and giants, he had become a weary veteran, shivering in the cold no matter how many blankets his servants piled on him (1 Kings 1:1). He was only 70, but his years as a warrior, his family problems, and the pressures of serving as king had taken their toll. It’s been said, “You’re only young once, but it makes you tired for the rest of your life.”
At the urging of his wife Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan, David made sure his son Solomon would succeed him as king (1 Kings 1:11-53). He gave Solomon some final instructions and charged him to be faithful to God (2:1-12). In 2 Samuel 23 we read the poetic “last words of David” (v. 1)—even as death approached, David could still affirm, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me” (vv. 1, 2). His last words were God-guided words.
Despite his failures and imperfections, David relied on God’s faithfulness. He declared, “If my house were not right with God, surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part” (v. 5). God has prepared a covenant for us too—guaranteed by the blood of Jesus, available to all, embraced by faith, and sealed in baptism (Hebrews 9:15; Galatians 3:26-28). As death approached, David confidently affirmed God’s intention to “bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire” (2 Samuel 23:5).
I have a Christian friend who habitually reads three Psalms at night before going to bed. He says it helps him sleep better. There’s a sleep aid you can buy at the pharmacy called Sominex. Perhaps we could call my friend’s spiritual sleep aid “Psalminex.” Any of us will sleep better when we know our house is right with God—the past is forgiven, the present is purposeful, and the future is bright.
David “died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honor” (1 Chronicles 29:28). He wrote psalms of praise while on earth, and now he abides in eternity where God’s praises never cease. Can you picture him playing his harp and singing at the top of his voice?
We think death is the final benediction, but it’s actually the opening call to worship.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for May 31, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
2 Samuel 20, 21
2 Samuel 22
2 Samuel 23, 24
1 Kings 1
1 Kings 2, 3