Now these are the last words of David. David, the son of Jesse, declares, the man who was raised on high declares, the anointed of the God of Jacob and the sweet psalmist of Israel said, ‘The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me and His word was on my tongue.’ 2 Samuel 23:1-2
These verses are commonly called David’s Last Words but no one really knows whether or not they really are his last words. Rather, it is more likely that this passage is David’s final legacy to his people. There is wonderful encouragement in the entire passage – 2 Sam. 23: 1-7.
In the first section quoted above, David testified how God used him. How blessed he must have felt, knowing well his own frame and the weaknesses to which he had succumbed, yet so aware that despite his failures, the Holy One of Israel had indeed used him. How well we can all identify with this sentiment! Are you not amazed when God uses you to bless another person?
Some forty years earlier David had written what we know as Psalm 18 after God had delivered him from the hand of Saul. He would have been approximately 25 years old at the time with his whole life ahead of him. And it was that psalm which the writer of 2 Samuel included in his book, in fact just before what we call ‘David’s last words.’ Psalm 18 tells us about David’s early experiences with God. It is the testimony of a young man before the serious sins of adultery and murder. At that time he could truly say, ‘I have not done evil by turning from my God.’ (vs. 21 of Psalm 18)
By contrast, what we read in 2 Samuel 23 are the words of a man soon to meet death, a man who was reflecting on his life and on the amazing goodness of God towards him.
The second section of this chapter extols the covenant he had with the Almighty and the principle that guided him throughout his reign: He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. (vs. 3) He left a warning to leaders of all kinds in every generation that authority requires of the one who possess it that he live a godly life and rule with justice. He follows those words with a tone of regret: ‘although my house is not so with God…’ He is not too proud to admit his failures. He confesses that he had failed as head of his family. This is not the David who said in his youth, ‘The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness’ but a David who acknowledges, Would to God that I had always lived righteously!’
There is not a one of us who does not have something to regret for we have all failed in our walk with God. As David approaches the end of his days, however, it is not his failures that he focuses on, though he does acknowledge them. His attention is on the covenant which God made with him.
He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure. 2 Sam. 23:5 David knows not to trust in his own righteous deeds but in the covenant of God whose promise never fails and whose mercy is without end. David foresaw the day when God would send the Messiah through David’s human ancestry. He also knew that his own hope of eternal life rested solidly on the covenant God had made with him and not on his own good works.
The third section of David’s last words issues a warning to the enemies of God. David knew by revelation and by experience that God’s enemies NEVER have the last word. God does!
David lived to the age of 70; his friend Jonathan died in the prime of his life. Death does not respect age or position. Not a one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. The people I have known throughout my life who stand out as deeply spiritual and highly worthy of imitation are those who live with eternity in view. They have a deep awareness that death is not an end; it is simply a passage into the next world which will last forever. To live in light of the reality of the world to come is to live with wisdom, humility and dedication; it is to live confident that despite our many failures, the covenant God has made with His people stands for the only thing God cannot do is fail.