David’s Last Words
Open Your Bible
2 Samuel 23:1-39, 2 Samuel 24:1-25, Micah 1:2-3, John 2:19-22
Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 23:1-39, 2 Samuel 24:1-25, Micah 1:2-3, John 2:19-22
They say that at the end of life, things will become clearer. Our priorities will crystallize and our discernment will sharpen. They say no one ever lies on their deathbed and says, “I should have spent more time at the office.” No one wishes they’d been less generous, less loving, less devoted to forgiveness and reconciliation. The secret, then, is to live now with the end in mind—to live now like we’ll wish we had then.
This is what they say. But what does the Bible say?
Scripture is filled with flawed humans who could have lived life better. Aside from Jesus, you’ll be hard pressed to find a person whose deathbed retrospective is free of wishes or regrets. Come to think of it, the idea of finding a “secret” to outsmarting our humanity is wholly absent in the 66 books of the Bible.
Instead of giving us life hacks, God’s Word gives us a promise: our life here on earth exists within our truer, eternal life with God through His Son.
When we reach the final chapters of 2 Samuel, at the end of David’s life, we don’t find him urging us to be our best selves. We find him composing a final poem—one last expression of what he knows to be true of God and his life with God. In it, David declares:
Is it not true my house is with God?
For he has established a permanent covenant with me,
ordered and secured in every detail.
Will he not bring about
My whole salvation and my every desire?
– 2 Samuel 23:5
David’s dying thoughts don’t hinge on what he has or has not done, but rather on what God has done and continues to do.
God made a covenant with David and He ordered every detail, in David’s life and beyond, to uphold that covenant. The second half of chapter 23 gives us a glimpse into those details—a brief and profound look into God’s provision, for David and for all people of the covenant, through the exploits of David’s “Mighty Men.”
This group of more than thirty men were named and known, both by the Lord and by David. Their devotion to God’s anointed king was no accident, and neither was the bravery and might they displayed on David’s behalf. One, named Eleazar, fought until he quite literally could not go on. Verse 10 says he “stood his ground and attacked the Philistines until his hand was tired and stuck to his sword.” Even so, Scripture makes it clear that God brought about the victory that day (1 Samuel 23:10). Another, called Benaiah, “went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion” (v.20). A trio of men known as “the Three” risked their lives just to bring a thirsty, homesick King David a drink of water from his hometown well (vv.15-16).
I circled their names in my study book—these warriors of the covenant who are known by name to the Lord and now to us so many generations later. It was the name at the end of the list that made my stomach lurch: Uriah the Hethite (v.39). The same Uriah who was married to Bathsheba. The same Uriah who was killed to cover up the king’s own sin. A mighty man snuffed out by a powerful one.
Our stories, like David’s, are complicated. They are filled with things we did and didn’t do, things other people did and didn’t do, and the consequences that followed. We have days when we look like heroes and days when our hearts look as murderous and unfaithful as David’s did with Uriah and Bathsheba. The story told in 1 and 2 Samuel offers us only one faithful Hero—the Lord.
God’s faithfulness is the context of David’s story and ours. His sovereignty reigns over every plot point; His mercy is mightier than our regrets. By faith in God’s Son, Jesus, we can stand at the end of our days and say with David, “My house is with God. He has established a permanent covenant with me, ordered and secured in every detail. He will bring about my whole salvation.”
All glory be to Him.