DayBreaks for 9/15/14 – A Dying Psalmist’s Final Message
Harp at the entry to the City of David archaeological site, Jerusalem. Galen C. Dalrymple, August 2014
I suspect that we have all imagined the end of our lives: what will it be like? What will I feel? What will I think? Where will I be? What will be my final words? What will the legacy I leave behind be like?
We are probably less prone to think about the last days of the lives of others – especially those we have never met and who may have lived long before us. What were the final days of Adam like as he looked back on his life? Noah? Abraham? Moses?
We don’t really know in may cases, though we have a hint with some of the ancient Bible characters. We have some of Moses’ final words in his charge to Israel – and the same is true with his successor, Joshua. We know Jesus’ last words. Whether or not you realize it, we have something close to that with the Psalmist, David.
As he sat down his harp and quill for the last time, as he contemplated his life in the rear-view mirror, what might he have been thinking? I would imagine his mind swept back over the decades to the early days in the field with the flocks and with battle with wild animals he killed while defending the sheep. Certainly, he would have thought of the famous encounter with Goliath…the first person he killed and a great victory by any measure. He may would have perhaps relived the pursuit by Saul, the first stirrings of love for his first wife. And, then, things would have changed.
His mind would have replayed the infidelity with Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah, the death of the son, the rape of his daughter by her brother, the rebellion of Absalom as he tried to wrest the throne from his father. David would have considered the suffering and deaths of thousands that God visited upon Israel for David trusting in the might of the army instead of God.
So, what would David’s final Psalm have to say? Psalm 145 is believed to be the last of the psalms that were written by the shepherd-singer-warrior-king. Does David bemoan his mistakes? Does he confess to God his wrong-doings and plead for mercy?
No. Assuming that David wrote this very near the end of his long life, he doesn’t have time for that. As he senses the coming inevitability, there is only time for what is most important and the words begin to flow from his pen: Psalm 145:1-3 (NLT) I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.
The scarred and weary king has only one thing on his mind: the greatness of God. And he should know. David doesn’t seem to have a shred of a doubt about God and about what would happen to his own soul, in spite of his failure and sin. Why? Because he knew this God – a God of greatness, a God full of compassion and mercy (read on in the psalm to see these things).
I can only hope and pray that I, when my time comes, will be able to look back at my life and see it in its full sweep and know that, in spite of my failings, God will not fail me when I draw my last breath. I only hope and pray that I will know Him well enough that I will rest easy in His promises to be faithful, in His love for me, and the truth of His forgiveness. As with David, it won’t be because I deserve it, but because of one thing and one things only: He is good!
PRAYER: God, how great and wonderful You are! May our final hours be filled with Your praise and let us proclaim Your goodness and greatness with our final breath! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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