The end of David’s life

Posted Oct 31, 2018

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Daily Scripture

2 Samuel 23:1-5

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.

1 Chronicles 29:26-28

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.

Reflection Questions

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.

  • Pastor and scholar Eugene Peterson (who just died on October 22, 2018) wrote of the end of David’s life, “David… never got around to loving his enemies the way his descendant Jesus would do it; his morals and manners left a lot to be desired. These aren’t narrated …to legitimize bad behavior but are set down as proof that we don’t first become good and then get God. First we get God—and then, over a patient lifetime, we’re trained in God’s ways.”* Whether you’ve been living your life with God for a few weeks or months or for several decades, think of some ways in which God has changed you, inside or outside. In what dimensions of your life are you currently most actively being “trained in God’s ways”?


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.

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Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Visiting Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

“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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