2 Samuel 23
David's Last Words
by C.H. Mackintosh
There is something deeply touching and most consolatory in the last words of “The sweet Psalmist of Israel.” It is good and profitable to listen to the “last words” of any saint of God or servant of Christ. It is well to hearken to the mellow words of the white-haired and experienced, to those who have reached the final stage of life's rough journey. We all know that, upon our first starting on our course, there is a degree of romance about us. We cherish large expectations from men and things. We fondly imagine that all is gold that glitters and we foolishly hope that all the promises and pretensions of the scene around will be fully realized. But alas! as we get on, we discover our mistake. Stern reality cures us of much of our youthful romance and the blasts of the desert heat carry away much of the bloom of our young days. The young believer is apt to confide in everyone who makes a profession; and this simple confidence is lovely. Would that it always met with a more worthy response. But it does not. One meets with much, even in an ordinary Christian career, to chill, to wither, to contract and repulse. Hence the weight and value of “last words,” especially when we get them, not merely as the fruit of matured judgment, but as in David's case, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
“Now these be the last words of David, David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.”
Here, David sets up the divine standard of character for one called to rule over men. “He must be just”; and upon the basis of justice is erected a superstructure of cloudless light, richest blessing and abundant fruitfulness. All this will only be realized when the Son of David, now hidden in the heavens, shall ascend the throne of his Father and stretch forth His scepter over a restored creation.
Not only does David set up the divine standard; he compares himself with it, and it is in this comparison we have the great moral and practical truth which I desire to fasten on my reader's heart. “Although,” says David, “my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although He make it not to grow.”
The only way to get a right view of ourselves is by looking at Christ. This is what David does in these last words. He weighs himself in a perfect balance and declares himself light. He measures himself with a perfect rule and confesses himself entirely defective. He gazes upon the perfect model and exclaims, “I am not like that.” He looks back over the past and sees his failings and faults. He turns over page after page of life's sad story and his eye, enlightened by beams of light from the sanctuary, sees the blots and the blemishes. But, blessed be God, he can fall back upon “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,” and in that well ordered covenant, finds “all his salvation and all his desire.”
There is uncommon beauty and power in the connection between the “although” and the “yet” in the above passage. The former leaves a wide margin in which to insert the words of a convicted and chastened heart, the latter opens the floodgates to let in the full tide of divine mercy and loving kindness. “Although” puts man in the dust as a failing one; “yet” introduces God in all the fullness of His pardoning love. The former is the language of a soul that has learned itself; the latter is the breathing of a heart that had learned something about God.
Oh! beloved reader, is it not a great mercy that, when we reach the close of our history and review the past — when, as regards ourselves, we have only to say, “My house is not so with God” — we shall then fully prove the eternal stability of that grace in which we have found “all our salvation and all our desire!”