This morning will be a little different in that we are going to have discussion at the end! Yes, I know that is a surprise but I think there are issues and questions here that are worth our considering together.
1. There is an art to obituaries. I like the funny ones especially.
Danny Lloyd “was a generous man — giving away many of his possessions in the months before he died. He even left his car to twelve different friends…” He was a ticket scalper and broker, or as he called it “a facilitator of supply/demand economics.” If you are attending the memorial service, “please ignore Danny’s scalper friends who might be offering to upgrade your seat for a small price.”
“Robert Clyde Drew, beloved husband, father, and Papa, drew his last breath January 25, 2018, mainly, we suspect, to prevent himself from having to watch the Patriots and Eagles in the Super bowl.”
He despised canned cranberry sauce, wearing shorts, cigarette butts in his driveway, oatmeal, loud-mouth know-it-alls, Tabasco sauce, reality TV shows, and anything to do with the Kardashians
Or the shortest one I’ve read.
2. The same is true for last words:
When Sir Isaac Newton died, he said, “I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
Leonardo da Vinci said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”
Drummer Buddy Rich died after surgery in 1987. As he was being prepped for surgery, a nurse asked him, “Is there anything you can’t take?” Rich replied, “Yeah, country music.”
Surgeon Joseph Henry Green was checking his own pulse as he lay dying. His last word: “Stopped.”
3. David did not have an obituary that looked back on his life but it would have been something to remember, wouldn’t it?
Shepherd boy nearly overlooked
Killed Goliath with one stone while delivering sandwiches
Dodged spears, faked madness, went over to the enemy, and returned to be king.
Adored by tens of thousands
Lost his best friend Jonathan
Poet and musician
Bathsheba and Uriah
His best friend’s betrayal and death – Ahithophel
Absalom’s rebellion and death
Denied the dream of his life – building the Temple
Left a fortune to complete it.
4. But there were also themes to his life – as there are for all of us. David left what we would call today an ethical will. “This is who I am and how I want you to remember me.”
Your legal will establishes facts and requirements for the distribution of your material assets. But what that legal document cannot do is capture the values behind those facts, the spirit behind them—the beliefs that surround and brought about whatever assets you have. Values come from the way you have lived your life out of your beliefs and discovered them to be true. Lord Acton said: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority…Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”
But not all great men are necessarily bad men. They are men with great flaws but great attributes as well.
The themes of David’s life:
The faithfulness of God. Psalm 89:28. “My faithful love will be with him…I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure.” I think it is one of the most significant questions for us to settle in our lives. Do we believe God loves us only when we measure up to a certain standard? Do we believe his love for us in permanent or comes and goes? David was certain of God’s faithfulness.
The opposition of men. Psalm 140:1-5. Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips. Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from men of violence who plan to trip my feet. Proud men have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path.” From the beginning, David intimidated people with his talent, drive, leadership and charisma. He was not paranoid. He was realistic. People were always setting traps for him and hoping to catch him in a snare.
Confidence in his calling. Psalm 57:2. “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.” David knew he had a purpose in life that would be fulfilled. His life was not random. The direction of his life was not determined by him alone. Yes, he made choices but God had a purpose for David’s life.
Awareness of his sin. Psalm 51:1-3. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” David did not believe in “cheap grace.” He did not live in denial of his sin or blaming others. He was not a victim.
Certainty of forgiveness. Psalm 32:1-5. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Confession literally means “saying the same thing” and that is what David believes about his sin. He does not it greater or less than it is. He says the same thing about the sin that God does and then accepts the forgiveness that is available to us all.
5. Not only did he leave an ethical will that summed up his deepest beliefs but he left instructions and tasks for Solomon:
Instructions for living: “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.”
Instructions for building the Temple:“I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, “You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood…He said to me: Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son.”
6. Not only did he leave instructions about how to live but he left very specific instructions about certain people:
Joab: “Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace.”
Shimei: “But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.”
Barzillai: “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.”
7. He also made sure there was no confusion about his intentions.He knew there would be strife over who would follow him as king because it should have been the eldest son – Adonijah – but David had changed the rules and expectations by giving the throne to Solomon. So, to eliminate as much confusion as possible he made Solomon the king before he died and put him physically on the throne for all to see – and he blessed him.
8. But, of all these preparations, here is the one I like the best. It describes the final years of David’s life perfectly. He spent it planning every detail of the Temple even though he would not build it. “He gave him (Solomon) the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the Lord…”All this is in writing, David said, “because the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan.”
This is from a new book by Pete Deison, a minister in Dallas.
Ask God for One More Task
If you’re moving into the latter transition of life, it’s not a time to quit—far from it. Instead, it’s the time to ask God for one more task. Sure, maybe your health is not as strong as it has been, or things have changed in your life circumstances. Still, there is no mention in the Bible of retirement. What retirement means to most people is that you stop doing things that are purposeful, and you just start focusing on coasting, just cruising along.
The Baby Boomer Generation, for example, watched the corrosion of coasting in their parent’s lives, and the statistics are that the person who fully retired from work and really had nothing else to get involved in died on average within eight years. That’s how long people tend to live without some sense of purpose.
As long as you navigate Earth, you have to have some sense of purpose. It doesn’t mean you haven’t stopped doing something you used to do. Instead, you’ve found something else to replace it. God didn’t put you here to coast. That’s why it’s life-giving and vital to ask God for one more task. You finish that one, and you ask Him for another task. As long as you’ve got breath, ask God to give you something to do for Him!
This morning I want us to have a discussion about these things and I want to orient it around these few questions. While this is a discussion for those who were attending this morning, I believe these are good questions for anyone having gotten this far in the lesson.
1. In one or two words, how do you want to be remembered?
Here are some of the responses from class members: Person of integrity, steadiness, kind, loving, giving.
2. What instructions do you want to leave your children?
Here are some of the responses from class members: Trust God, hold on to truth, do the right thing.
3. What might be a task or project you want to take on?
Here are some of the responses from class members: Lead my grandchildren to Christ.