David: Ending Well by—Heading Towards Home

Psalm 23:6

Part 2 continued from July 28th

 

 

 

 

DYING GRACEFULLY PSALM 116

 

Now let’s go to Psalm 116 and find that Christ is our Refuge even for Death.

 

As David sang of the Good Shepherd walking him through the Valley of Death’s shadow in Psalm 23—so the Good Shepherd sang of God’s power and grace as He also Himself headed to die the death of deaths as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

 

The first truth we can learn from what Jesus said and did that night is that the pains of death are very personal. It was only Jesus who couldn’t sleep as He faced death—the disciples couldn’t stay awake. So we also notice in Psalm 116 is that it is a very personal Psalm; the 1st person pronoun is used 37x and the Lord’s Name 15x.

 

The second truth we find in Psalm 116 is that death is a time about which we must be very intentional. As David, and as Christ—we must intentionally choose to do and say what pleases God.

 

Eight times the Psalmist says “I will” in Psalm 116:1-19:

 

1.      I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. 2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. 3 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. 7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.

2.      9 I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.” 11 I said in my haste, “All men are liars.” 12 What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me?

3.      13 I will take up the cup of salvation, And

4.      call upon the name of the Lord.

5.      14 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. 16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds.

6.      17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,

7.      And will call upon the name of the Lord.

8.      18 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people, 19 In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

 

The 116th Psalm also reminds us of Christ's favor that lasts for a lifetime. Note that the past, present, and future are all covered by Christ's grace.

 

In the past he “prayed” (v.1, 4); and in the present he “loves” (v. 1); and in the future he “will call” (v.2).

 

Jesus also may have used Psalm 116:13 in the Last Supper Communion as He said in the words of this Psalm, “I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord.” The 3rd cup of the Passover meal may have been this cup.

 

We only drink the cup of salvation because Christ already drank the bitter cup for us taking my sin, my cross, my shame and rising again we bless His name as we drink the cup of blessing.

 

1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

 

John 18:11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

 

Finally, here are the lessons we can draw from the song Jesus sang as He headed towards death. These lessons are for us and can become such a precious source of preparation now and hope as that day draws near!

 

·        We are not lonely at death if we always remember He hears us. Psalm 116:1 I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications.

·        We are not lonely at death if we pour out our fears and needs. Psalm 116:2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

·        We are not lonely at death if we always remember that troubles and sorrows are neither wrong nor avoidable. Psalm 116:3 The pains of death surrounded me, And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Every great saint since the Garden of Eden (except two) have died in pain of one form or another. Jesus died most painfully. It is not wrong or sinful to have troubles and sorrows—it is normal and also a part of God’s plan.

·        We are not lonely at death if we seek the Lord’s aid when life hurts. Psalm 116:4 Then I called upon the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

·        We are not lonely at death if we praise Him for His mercy and goodness that have followed us all through our life. Psalm 116:5-7 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. 6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. 7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

·        We are not lonely at death if we make it a habit to walk with God each day we live. Psalm 116:8-10 For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the Lord In the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore I spoke, “I am greatly afflicted.” The same One who walks through life with us keeps walking and takes us through the Valley of Death’s shadows. And shadows of death are all we get—not death. Jesus said who ever lives and believes in Him will never die.

·        We are not lonely at death if we drink from the cup of salvation. Psalm 116:12-13 What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? 13 I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord. Believers never die!

·        We are not lonely at death if we seek to obey Him during life. Psalm 116:14 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people. Jesus said His sheep hear His voice, follow Him—and He gives them endless life, even when their body dies!

·        We are not lonely at death if we serve Him in life. Psalm 116:15-16 Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. 16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my bonds. Serving God is what saints are going to be doing forever!

·        We are not lonely at death if we thank Him through life. Psalm 116:17-19 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord. 18 I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people, 19 In the courts of the Lord’s house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

 

One last area we need to consider and that is the question—does all this work? The answer resounds through the centuries, yes! This is the best way to live and the best way to die, is what we saw in Hebrews 11.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR AS WE PREPARE TO GO HOME

 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13, emphasis added

 

Remember the precious truth about the church at Smyrna—the saints who experienced martyrdom for Christ’s sake in Revelation 2? Their faithfulness unto death was such a sweet-smelling savor unto God. Unless Christ returns soon, all of us face the inevitability of death. Are you ready? Have you planned for the testimony you’d like your funeral to be?

 

By a few simple preparations, you can really bless your family and friends who stay behind after you’ve gone home to be with Jesus. If you have never done this, I encourage you to take out a sheet of paper and label it: “My Home Going Celebration.” Write out a brief description of how you came to Christ, and of your hope in His salvation. Then share some of your favorite verses, songs, and hymns—and even a word to bless those you leave behind. Do this and, like Abel, you will “speak” even after you’ve died (Hebrews 11:4). To further prepare, consider once more the seven godly examples in Scripture of how to die with grace.

 

Jacob looked for the Land of Promise to the end of his life. When he was close to death, Jacob called Joseph to his side and said, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, … deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers …” (Genesis 47:29-30). When Jacob was a young man, God had promised that his people would someday have a Land of Promise, but Egypt was not that land. Jacob therefore asked to be laid to rest in the actual land God was giving to his descendants. He had followed his Shepherd all the way, and trusted his Redeemer to save him from his sins (Genesis 48:15-16). Have you thanked the Lord lately for His grace that is greater than all your sins?

Joseph died pointing to the faithfulness of God. He told his brethren, … “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Genesis 50:24). In the ancient world, when someone was failing in health and was coming to the end of life, the family would gather around and listen to their last words. Inheritances were then divided up. Joseph died pointing his family to the Lord’s promises: “God will surely come to your aid, for He is faithful and will do what He said.”

David died exhorting his family to follow God. When he was about to die, David charged Solomon his son saying: “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” (1 Kings 2:2-3, NIV). David earned the right to exhort his family spiritually because he had lived a godly life. Lot, however, did not. His family laughed and mocked him, saying that he was scoffing (Genesis 19:14). To make our last moments on earth really count, it is so important that we get ready to die by first living for Christ.

Stephen died praising God. While he was being stoned, he prayed, … “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:59-60, NIV). What an incredible testimony of dying faith! Stephen was radiant, worshiping, and offering his spirit into the presence of the Lord!

Peter died reminding the saints about the Word of God. He said, “I will always remind you of these things, even though you … are firmly established in the truth you now have. … It is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside … (2 Peter 1:12-14, NIV). Jesus had told Peter that some day his hands would be stretched out, and he would be crucified (John 21:18). History tells us that he was crucified upside down because Peter had declared that he was not worthy to die like Jesus did.

Paul died finishing the plan laid out for Him by God. When death was near, he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord … will award to me on that day—and … to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NIV). Paul faithfully followed the course that God had laid out for him. His last days were spent in the maximum security Mamertine Prison in Rome. He did not protest or try to get out; he placidly sat there and wrote letters, knowing that he had faithfully completed what God asked him to do, and was prepared to go to heaven.

Christ died pointing the way for another to come to God. Jesus told one of the criminals being crucified, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Is Jesus your hope? If you died today, would you be with Him in paradise? Are you ready to die?

 

As we ponder the direction of our life and seek to point it towards our home in Heaven—you might regretfully say, “I wish I could do that over and start my life pointed the right way sooner.”

 

In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul said to forget what is behind and live for the Lord from today on.

 

Philippians 3:13-143 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. NKJV

 

If you have not been as faithful as you need to be, start now.

 

Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

 

Choose to like Paul (II Timothy 4:7-8) to finish the course Christ has laid out for you, and you will experience a great calm as you follow God’s will daily. This is the very best approach to being ready to go “home” any day—and not just when your “to do” list is complete. Consistently living like this is a wonderful way to die!

 

Remember that David ended well by heading towards home—and so should we. Then we can echo the words of John as he closes God's Word when he says—

 

Revelation 22:20-21 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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