David: Ending Well by—Dying Gracefully

I Kings 2

Part 2 Continued from July 24th

 

 

 

 

As we studied many months ago in the message called “David’s Legacy—what he left behind” we saw that David was perhaps the wealthiest person who has ever lived. He very well may have surpassed all the Pharaohs and other ancient kings in sheer magnitude of wealth. But that is not the key. What amazes me and instructs me is what David did with his wealth.

 

He carefully gathered it, safely stored it and very consciously gave it away to God. The record of that final gifting to God by way of his son Solomon is very touching in and of itself. But seen in the light of all that David experienced and then captured in the Psalms we see a pattern.

 

I am often reminded that wealth is like stored time from the past. My present use of wealth saved from the past is a way to give part of those years now gone—to the Lord. Look at 1 Chronicles 22:14 again. Note that David took much trouble to prepare. This was the premeditated murder of any materialistic desire in his heart.

 

He wanted his stored up time of his life, measured by his wealth to reflect his great love for God. So he was very careful to direct his wealth while he was alive, into the hands of God.

 

David had learned what Jesus spoke so forcefully about in His Sermon on the Mount. Money is the monitor of our heart. At any time in life, our view of our money reflects the condition of our heart. The entire section of Matthew 6:19-24 is all about one area of life. Who owns our material possessions—us or God.

 

Matthew 6:19-24 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

 

This graceful preparation of our personal wealth before our death is a real challenge to each generation of Christ's Church throughout the ages. Once, a wealthy Christian plantation owner invited John Wesley (1703-1791) to his home. The two rode their horses all day, seeing just a small part of all the man owned.

 

At the end of the day the plantation owner proudly asked, "Well, Mr. Wesley, what do you think?" After a moment of silence, Wesley replied, "I think you're going to have a hard time leaving all this."

 

The plantation owner was attached to the world he was in. Wesley was attached to the world he was going to. It is very hard for a believer to die when they have wealth that is not surrendered to Christ's control.

 

Jesus told us that believers who lay up treasures on earth spend their life backing away from their treasures. To them, death is loss.

 

Jesus also told us that believers who lay up treasures in heaven look forward to eternity; they are moving daily toward their treasures. To them, death is gain.

 

Any believer who spends their life moving away from their treasures has more and more reasons to despair. Those who spend their life moving toward their treasures have more and more reasons to rejoice.

 

How are you doing with all of your physical, material, earthly possessions? Are they surrendered as tools given back to God’s control? Or are they treasures held tightly?

 

David died gracefully because he took much trouble to surrender the control of all his material possessions to God as tools in God’s Hands.

 

Is the passing of time causing you and me to despair or rejoice? God's ownership of everything is the reference point for all of us who serve the Lord. Century by century the greatest servants of God in Christ's Church have said nearly the same thing about their wealth. They have each battled with materialism and put it to death by conscious obedience to Christ's claims upon their lives and material possessions—whether little or much. Listen to their voices affirming Christ's words and David’s.

 

And so it is that when a man walks along a road, the lighter he travels, the happier he is; equally, on this journey of life, a man is more blessed if he does not pant beneath a burden of riches. ~Tertullian (155-230 AD)

 

Let temporal things serve your use, but the eternal be the object of your desire. ~ Thomas A Kempis (1380-1471)

 

I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess. ~Martin Luther (1483-1546)

 

Whatever good thing you do for Him, if done according to the Word, is laid up for you as treasure in chests and coffers, to be brought out to be rewarded before both men and angels, to your eternal comfort. ~ John Bunyan (1628-1688)

 

I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity. ~ John Wesley (1703-1791)

 

I place no value on anything I possess except in relation to the kingdom of God. ~ David Livingstone (1813-1873)

 

And finally, from modern times, we often miss something in the 29 year old missionary martyr Jim Elliot’s (1927-1956) famous words, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." We focus on his willingness to go to the mission field. That willingness started when he surrendered all of his material possessions into Christ's Hands, and thus relinquished his hold on things as no longer MINE!

 

God's kingdom and control over all of life was the reference point for David and these saints mentioned. Paul in Acts 13:36 (David’s Epitaph) reminds us that David wanted to fulfill God’s purposes and did. So David and these heroes of the faith saw all else in light of the kingdom. They were compelled to live as they did not because they treasured no things, but because they treasured the right things.

 

David had paid a high price to prepare materials for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. In his lifetime he was generous with his wealth. He gave, encouraged and supported many in his realm. But behind all that he did was this long term strategy to be involved in what God was doing that would extend beyond his lifetime. He distilled down moments of his life into wealth that would be used as he directed in the promotion of God’s goals. He amassed building materials for Solomon.

 

An application for us remains--if we diligently prepare the materials, others after us may build. God asks all of us to live obediently in this life. But within that obedience come choices and David’s choices blessed the Lord and brought an endless reward. The fact that David wrote and sang these 71 plus worship Psalms for the Lord is so powerful.

 

David’s whole life was involved with worship and praise, singing and teaching of God’s wonders.

So should ours.

 

So how can David’s spiritual preparation impact our view death? In I Kings 2 we saw that David calls death “the way of all the earth”—it was a reminder to even young Solomon that death is universal and inevitable.

 

David was saved or redeemed, the first element of his life we see at death. Then he surrendered the ownership of his life and treasures back to God. There is one final element that made David unafraid to end well and die gracefully. Death was the way out of earth for him and into the dwelling God had prepared for him. It was early in his life, most likely as a shepherd boy that the real foundation for dying gracefully was laid.

 

Turn with me there to the last half of the 23rd Psalm. Death to David was not an unknown, it was not a mystery—it was an appointment. The third element we find as we look at David’s final recorded moments is that David sees death as an appointment with his Good Shepherd, who we know is Jesus.

 

Even the greatest enemy—death, was disarmed before David. He could dine (a wonderful picture of his fellowship with the Lord) even in the presence of death, the end of all we know of this earthly part of life.

 

Psalm 23:4-6

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;

For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Forever.

 

David had reservations in Heaven. It was where his God lived, and a place was prepared for him and he was following his guide through life into the valley, through the shadows and safely home,

 

Many times over the years I have stood at bedsides in hospitals, emergency rooms, and hospice arranged homes—and shared these same words.

 

Death is an appointment for all who know Jesus, with their Good Shepherd. Jesus comes to take us through the valley of death’s shadow. We have an appointment already set by Him (Hebrews 9:26) and neither we nor He shall ever be early or late.

 

When a loved one dies whether we make it there in time or not—the Good Shepherd does make it. He arrives exactly on time and takes His beloved by the hand and walks them safely home.

 

So David was not afraid of death, he spoke openly about his appointment with His Good Shepherd Jesus who was coming to get him. But such hope and confidence does not removed from us the pains associated with death—just the fear is removed by faith and trust in Jesus.

 

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

 

All the way my Savior leads me;
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father's house above.

When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song thro' endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;

This my song thro' endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

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