Sept. 27: 2 Sam 23

Iain D Campbell
"The best way to die"

The 'words of David' appear copiously throughout the Scriptures. Many of them are in the Book of Psalms, of course, and many of these, in turn, appear in the New Testament, where their ultimate meaning is brought to light, and we are shown how their meaning is fulfilled in the coming of Christ.

But there is something striking about someone's 'last words', and in 2 Samuel 23, the 'last words' of David are recorded. As he approaches the end of his life, how will the great king-poet, the great shepherd-prophet, speak? What will he say? How will he die?

The answer is as moving as it is glorious. Among his last words are these: 'he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure' (2 Samuel 23:5). David has done much for God, but when it comes to his time for leaving the world and departing into eternity, what matters is not so much what he has done for God as what God has done for him.

The covenant with David is recorded in 2 Samuel 7, with its great provision of an everlasting dynasty, in which David's throne will be established, his seed protected, and his name immortalized. These mercies of David are what the Messiah will secure for his people through the everlasting gospel (Isaiah 55:3), so that, like the king, they can also lay their heads to rest on the pillow of God's promises, and on the assurance of a divine covenant.

Covenant theology is many things. It is the storyline of the Bible, the scarlet thread of the gospel; it is the unifying theme of revelation, and the heart of the story of grace. Christ mediates the covenant, his blood secures it, his grace calls sinners into it. There is no hope without it, and no assurance apart from it. It is what Calvin called 'the binding of God' - his willingness to commit to sinners through the finished work of his Son.

When I hear seasoned pilgrims in prayer quoting these words, 'he has made with me an everlasting covenant....', I am reminded that at the end of the Christian life we can rest on nothing more than we received at the beginning: the knowledge that all that God is, he is for us. These last words of David ought to be the constant refrain on our own lips, as we too rest and trust in the greatest of all commitments - God's unfailing, abiding love to his own.