The kingdom of Israel is safely in the hands of Solomon. David delivered his last instructions. And now he can die peacefully. David’s death is welcome.
The passage for today is very short and succinct but it wasn’t a succinct affair when it happened. My imagination wouldn’t be far off if all Israel came to say farewell to him and to pay their respects to Solomon.
According to custom David would have been buried the same day as his death but the mourning rituals would most likely last a month. Moses was mourned for 40 days, possibly one day for each year in the wilderness. David may have been mourned for 40 days, one for each year he ruled.
Can you picture the events of that day? The professional mourners were drowned out by the people who actually knew David. Barzllia probably stood guard over David’s body until his tomb was secured with a seal. The line of people following the body to the tomb stretched for miles. It encircled the city. Solomon would have chosen the longest route to the burial tomb to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to view the procession.
David’s burial shroud would have been of the finest linen, possibly dyed deep purple for royalty. He would have been wrapped with the most aromatic spices available. His skin and hair carefully washed before anointing and wrapping. He probably wore nothing but his shroud when he was finally laid to rest.
David’s mighty men would have carried him to his final resting place. Those without a hand on the actual brier would follow close behind or proceed it to offer protection during the procession. Solomon and Bathsheba would follow next. The remaining sons and wives of David would be next in the procession. The Cherethites and the Pelethites would follow next. These men had followed David since leaving Ziklag. The rest of the procession would be filled with the people of Israel. Those who David’s life somehow touched, those who wished to honor their king, and those who were curious.
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A boy who would be king. Chosen in his youth by God, for God looks at the heart. He honored God his whole life. He taught his sons and the nation to do the same.
Anointed: Anointed as a youth by Samuel before his brothers and father. Anointed over the tribe of Judah as king. And anointed by Israel’s leaders as king over all Israel.
Servant: David first learned service in the home of his father. He tended the sheep and kept them safe from all that sought to harm them. He was loyal to king Saul even when he sought David’s life. He refused to lift his hand against God’s anointed. He served those who followed him from his wanderings to his throne.
Leader: David grew into the role of leader. When leadership was thrust upon him he was willing to accept guidance from those who had experience. He was a leader by example as he fought side by side with his men. He asked nothing of them that he was not willing to do himself. He received the highest honor a leader can ever hope to command; the loyalty of his men and his subjects.
Humility: David was a humble king. He never forced his rein upon the people. He waited to be called upon. He did not Demand respect but earned it instead. He also humbly served the Lord. Whatever circumstances he found himself in, he knew the Lord had brought it about for a reason and he would walk through it without complaint.
Warrior: David first fought for the lives of his sheep against a bear and a lion. His first military victory was over the giant Goliath. He went on to serve in Saul’s army as one of the most successful soldiers. He served as a commander and his troops stood against incredible odds. While on the run from Saul, David’s victories were innumerable and often miraculous. While serving as king, David’s battles against the nations surrounding Israel resulted in numerous victories and abundant spoils, including land, being added to Israel’s coffers. The hand of God was seen upon David’s battles from first to last. And he credited the Lord with those victories.
Worship: David loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul. His greatest joy came from worshiping Him and singing songs to Him. His harp and heart poured forth with songs of praise, prayer, and every combination thereof. From David’s pen came verse and prose that have touched the hearts of men for centuries. No truer words have ever spoken of God’s faithfulness in every circumstance than those recorded in the psalms of David. His heart is laid bare before God and man, and his words give voice to my cries too.
Flawed: For all his wonderful attributes, David was still a flawed man. His greatest faults lie in his personal life. He took the wife of another man and had him killed in order to keep her. And his discipline of his children was very lacking. These areas caused him and the nation great distress but he was STILL used by God in a mighty way. He was willing to admit when he had sinned and to seek forgiveness.
He was loved by those he ruled. He was feared by those who opposed him in battle. He was favored by God. And he was a king who set the stage for the King.
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David is a man I would very much like to meet in Heaven. I would like to hear him sing to the Lord and hear stories that are absent from our list of his accomplishments. I’m certain there are many. David also gives me hope. Not hope that I could one day be a ruler but hope that with all his faults, God STILL used him mightily. I believe his biggest virtue is his willingness to repent and start again. That is the place I always want to be. I would prefer not making any big blunders but I know myself better than to look at that as a probability. I make mistakes. I mess up. I sin. But I also bring it to the Lord. And like David, I’m forgiven and can walk anew with Him.
Father God, keep my heart soft towards You. Let me NEVER feel I can handle anything this world throws at me without You. Keep my heart always willing to admit my sin and bring them to You for forgiveness. Help me walk a little closer with You every day. Hone in me the characteristics You want to shine in my life.
I wonder what my eulogy will contain. As long as it says I loved You with all my heart, mind and soul, the rest doesn’t matter.