Authentic Last Words | Life Group Series 8/8
It was recently reported in the Evening Standard newspaper that you can buy a private dinner date with Oxford atheist Prof. Richard Dawkins for $100,000. Bargain? Personally, I don’t think so. He may know a lot about evolutionary biology. He may even have come up with the controversial concept of the “meme” but how many giants has he killed, or nations has he ruled?
David’s bio by way of comparison is a little more interesting. He fought with the giant Goliath and won. He was persecuted by a king and lived on the run in the wilderness, where for a time he was a cave dweller. When he became king, he defeated many of Israel’s enemies, advancing her borders from 6,000 to 60,000 square miles. He even silenced the Philistines for all time to come. He wrote many Psalms of praise to God. He gathered vast stores of stone and iron, brass, and cedar for the building of the temple of God. But don’t forget his dark side. He backslid in Ziklag, deceitfully killing many innocent people. He disobediently amassed numerous wives and concubines. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and had Uriah, her husband, killed to cover up his crime. He was an absentee father, which resulted in incest, murder and rebellion within his own family.
How much more would you pay for a dinner date with David? Think of the stories he could tell you, and the wisdom he could pass on from both his successes and failures.
Here in Scripture, we are fortunate enough to have the last words of one of the most quintessentially authentic men who ever lived, David, “the man after God’s own heart” given to us by God. The only cost: the time it takes to read and study them. What a bargain! We would be wise not to allow such a towering pillar of faith to pass from our midst without gleaning from him all that he learned and intended here to pass on, for otherwise the loss to us and our generation could be tremendous.
His last words are real-life wisdom earned in the coalface of life (not just in the library). They major on the grace of God. ‘Without God I am nothing’, is the tone David sets for this, his closing Psalm. His last words emphasise the call to be a worshipper of God above seeking position, power or prestige. They exhort Christians to live by faith in the promises of God to the end; to die looking forward to the coming glory of Jesus Christ who will one day fully bring in “the most perfect new day imaginable” that will more than surpass Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ or U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’, causing “everything that is good and right to flourish and grow.” (Motyer, Treasures of the King). And they close with a warning of the doctrine that is so often denied – ‘judgment’ – that we dismiss at ours and other people’s peril; a timely challenge in light of recent attempts to undermine the terrifying reality of hell (see Rob Bell’s Love Wins).
These authentic last words challenge their reader to consider what you would like your last words to be. And, indeed, if you were to reverse engineer your life, what you would need to change, so that your last words might be as authentic, wise and hope-filled as David’s are.
John Bradford’s last words, as he was burned at the stake in Smithfield were “I am going to have a merry supper with the Lord tonight.” The Puritan Dr Goodwin said, “Ah! Is this dying? Have I dreaded as an enemy this smiling friend?”
What will your last words be? What authentic wisdom will you pass on to the next generation?