Week 3 Day 3

1 Kings 1:1-4
Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with clothes, but he could not keep warm. 2 So his servants said to him, “Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king, and let her attend the king and become his nurse; and let her lie in your bosom, that my lord the king may keep warm.” 3 So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The girl was very beautiful; and she became the king’s nurse and served him, but the king did not cohabit with her.

1 Kings 2:1-4
As David’s time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. 3 Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 so that the Lord may carry out His promise which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons are careful of their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
The Christian poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.”  This sentiment rings true individually for so many, and it certainly does at the end of the life of King David.  All of the brilliant hope of his kingship slowly unraveled and our text today examines the final threads of the great man’s life and rule.  

His physical decline is clearly evidenced as 1 Kings opening with the line, “Now King David was old and advanced in years.” And despite his attendants’ best attempts to cover and clothe him, “he could not get warm.”  Oh, the frustration and disappointment and discouragement of old age!

The collection of beautiful liturgies in Every Moment Holy II includes the following poetic prayer,

To endure so long the indignities of
decline, when the end is already known;
to feel the forced surrender of strength
and faculty by degrees, to be progressively
confined, senses dulled, thoughts awry and
harder to grasp, aware that you are losing step
with life–this all must accrue as a weight and
a fatigue upon the mind and spirit, as well as
on the body.

(From “A Liturgy of Intercession For One Slowly Losing Function”)

Thus has been the slow end for many–including King David.  At his life’s close, he told his son Solomon, “I am about to go the way of the earth” (1 Kings 2:1).  And as David’s death draws near, he gives words of advice, encouragement, and instruction to his son. Though discomfort, pain, and indignity often accompany aging, clarity and conviction as to what is truly important can be present as well!  In fact, scripture speaks clearly and frequently of the benefits of having lived a long life–Job 2:12 says, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  

In the economy of the Kingdom of God, someone’s value and worth is not determined by his or her physical strength, mental acuity, or other capabilities, rather by God’s own care and love, which does not depend on human capacity at all!  Through aging, all humans have an invitation to apply this truth to our hearts in a unique way.  As we all inevitably become less “productive,” self-sufficient, and independent, we experience the tender patience of God’s lovingkindness extended to us despite (indeed, because of) our lack.  

The intercessory prayer quoted above continues:

Let their long decline be as a sermon
preached to their own heart.  Let it be
a last, wild beckoning to reinvest all hope,
not in their own fading strength,
but in your divine love.

After his 40 year reign in Israel, David died–just as the mighty Saul and Jonathan had fallen before him, and just as all kings to follow him would fall as well.  

Until Jesus. In every way, the Greater David. The Greater King. The Greater Human. Who delivers us from the fear of death and dying and allows us to proclaim, “So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Reflection and Prayer

What fears most often accompany aging? How does Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection bring hope and comfort to these fears?

What benefits accompany aging (for the believer especially)? How can you celebrate these benefits as you experience aging yourself and/or in your relationships with older men and women?

Father, you are the giver of every breath and day of our lives.  Thank you for that grace and kindness to us–for allowing us to age and mature and experience your goodness in different seasons of life.  Reassure me of your love, which does not depend on my ability to produce or impress.  Thank you for Jesus, who delivers me from the fear of death because of his resurrection and the promise that I will rise with him to eternal life.  May I find peace always in Him, even as I face the years ahead–whatever they may bring.  Amen.

Faith Bible Staff