Second Samuel 23 begins: “These are the last words of David” (verse 1a, NLT). While the next recorded verses aren’t the actual last words of David, they seem to be the last psalm he penned. David is approaching the end of his life and he wants to reinforce the fact that he attributes every one of his successes to his Faithful Master.
“David, the son of Jesse, speaks – David, the man who was raised up so high, David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, David, the sweet psalmist of Israel” (II Samuel 23:1b). David, a young shepherd boy from an insignificant family, “was raised up so high” and “anointed by the God of Jacob.” He was even blessed with the ability to put his words into verse to praise the Lord who had done so much for him.
Verses 8-17 add a list of David’s mightiest warriors, referred to as “the Three” (II Samuel 23:8b): Jashobeam, Eleazar and Shammah. Their dedication to David was so strong that, once when “David remarked longingly to his men, ‘Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem’ …the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem, and brought it back to David” (II Samuel 23:15-16a).
David was so touched by their love for him that “he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out as an offering to the Lord” (II Samuel 23:16b). Knowing these men had risked their lives to fulfill the desire David had expressed for water from home overwhelmed him. No doubt David had merely commented aloud about Bethlehem’s good well water, never dreaming these three men would lay their lives on the line to bring it to him. He wasn’t worthy of their great sacrifice; only God was.
Verses 18-39 list the rest of David’s mighty men, 37 in total, including “the Three.” Abishai, the commander over all these men, is particularly noted for his courage. Abishai, this passage tells us, “once used his spear to kill 300 enemy warriors in a single battle” (II Samuel 23:18b). And then there’s Benaiah. Among his brave deeds, “he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it” (II Samuel 23:20b).
Every single one of us will one day speak our “last words.” And after that, how will we be remembered? David, God’s chosen leader for Israel and the lineage through which the Messiah would come, was flawed. Imperfect. But forgiven. And that’s how he’s remembered. Why? Because his whole life is recorded for us to read.
Our own lives are being recorded, too. In heaven, yes; but also by those around us. I once attended the funeral of a woman who had always complained incessantly, frowned constantly and never spoken a kind word about another person. The preacher read the stark facts about her life: birth date, death date, age, surviving family members and those who’d preceded her in death. And then he read a passage of scripture.
What else could he have done? Lied? “We’re sure going to miss her.” Tell the truth? “She even left a written list of complaints behind in case she didn’t get to voice them all.” That preacher did all he could do with what he had to work with.
What sort of words do you speak each day? What will you be remembered for? Faithfulness? Courage? Compassion? Enthusiasm? Make sure you’re a positive witness for the One you claim as Savior.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates