1 These are David’s last words:
This is the declaration of Jesse’s son David,
the declaration of a man raised high,
a man anointed by the God of Jacob,
a man favored by the strong one of Israel.
2 The Lord’s spirit speaks through me;
his word is on my tongue.
3 Israel’s God has spoken,
Israel’s rock said to me:
“Whoever rules rightly over people,
whoever rules in the fear of God,
4 is like the light of sunrise
on a morning with no clouds,
like the bright gleam after the rain
that brings grass from the ground.”
5 Yes, my house is this way with God!
He has made an eternal covenant with me,
laid out and secure in every detail.
Yes, he provides every one of my victories
and brings my every desire to pass.
26 David, Jesse’s son, was king over all Israel. 27 He reigned over Israel for forty years: seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 28 He died at a good old age, having enjoyed a full life, wealth, and honor; and his son Solomon followed him as king.
As we saw last week, David’s life included serious errors, which at times even looked as though they might end his reign as king prematurely. But because he made peace with God (cf. Psalm 51) and honorably picked up his kingly responsibilities, they didn’t stop his service to God and his people. Just before today’s passage about David’s “last words,” the historian(s) who wrote 2 Samuel 22 quoted the lengthy, exuberant Psalm 18.
Lord, thank you for welcoming me, “warts and all,” just as you welcomed David. Keep training me in your ways all my life long. Amen.
* Eugene Peterson, Leap Over a Wall: Earthy Spirituality for Everyday Christians. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997, p. 216.
“These are David’s last words…” the 2 Samuel passage begins. There is a long-standing Christian practice of death-speeches, the last words at the end of life. Christians would ponder throughout their lives upon the words they would say, hoping for a “good death” that would offer the opportunity to praise God out loud at the end. John Wesley’s last words were reportedly, “The best of all is, God is with us.”
Imagining our last words can actually be a very helpful practice for living a faithful life in the present. It quickly clarifies what really matters. When we imagine standing at the end of our lives looking back, we can imagine what we hope to have done, who we hope to have been, how we hope God has shone through our lives. And that imagination exercise of future-retrospective can offer wisdom and courage for the ordering of our steps today. It reminds us of who we want to be. Today.
On the All Saints Eve – aka Halloween – we pause to remember and give thanks for all of our brothers and sisters who have gone before us, shining God’s love into the world, ordering their steps in the way of Jesus.
You might want to try it. Imagine yourself at the end of life. What do you hope your last words will be?
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