Last Words

quotationI hope my last words spoken on this earth are poignant and heart-warming, perhaps even quotable.  I don’t want my last utterance to be something like, “Don’t forget — the garbage goes out on Wednesdays” or “Did we get pre-authorization from the insurance company for this?”

You can tell a lot about a person by their parting remarks.

When Lady Nancy Astor saw all her children standing by her bedside, she said, “Is it my birthday or am I dying?”  I wonder how they answered that question.

Groucho Marx quipped to his tearful wife, “Die, my dear?  Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do.”  Are you kidding?

Trailblazer Kit Carson was quoted as saying, “I just wish I had time for one more bowl of chili.”  That must have been some crazy good chili.

Conrad Hilton left a bit of advice with his last words: “Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub.”  No comment.

Mother Theresa spoke from her heart, “Jesus, I love you.  Jesus, I love you.”  Just what I’d expect.

And then there was Steve Jobs — “Oh wow.  Oh wow.  Oh wow.”  Indeed.

After four months of preaching on David, PB wrapped things up on Sunday with the King handing over the reins and the reign of Israel to his son Solomon.  True to form, David prayed, “…You test the heart and are pleased with integrity….keep this desire in the hearts of Your people forever…..give Solomon wholehearted devotion….”  David was all heart — a man after God’s own heart.

David’s last recorded words in the Bible were spoken to the great assembly:

“Praise the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 29:20)

Now those are good words to go out on.

Rewriting the Psalms

I love the book of Psalms.  It’s the first place I turn when I am sad, burdened and in need of comfort.  Sometimes I go to familiar verses, the ones I can count on time after time to express exactly how I am feeling.  Sometimes I am surprised by a new thought that never occured to me in a new verse I’d never noticed before.

In an effort to really understand the depth of these beautiful writings, I decided to rewrite the Psalms.  The Book of Psalms According to Dinah.  Phrase by phrase, I had to think about each word and how I would express the same thought.   For instance,  Psalm 30:1-5 says,

“I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.  O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.  O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.  Sing to the Lord,  you saints of his; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  NIV

Now the DPR version (Dinah’s Personal Rendition):  “Because You lifted me up out of the hole I was in and kept others from kicking me when I was down, I will now hold You up for all to see.  Here’s how it happened: I cried ‘help’ and You made it all better.  Honestly, Lord, it’s like being buried alive and having someone dig you up just in time.  This calls for some singing and praising, everybody!  God may show a flash of anger from time to time, but what rules the day is His loving acceptance.  I can cry a river at night, but as sure as the sunrise, things will look better in the morning.”

I hope David doesn’t mind me putting my own twist on his poems.  I’m not attempting to change them, just relate on a deeper level.  Just trying to get into the psalm writer’s head and get the ancient words into my heart.

More Treasure

Remember Hushai the Arkite? (See my last post if you have no idea who Hushai the Arkite is.) It seems that Hushai was not one of those obscure biblical names that gets mentioned once and is never to be heard of again. Although I’ve never heard a sermon on Hushai, and he wasn’t in the Sunday school material, and I doubt if he’s on the list of great men of the Bible, Hushai actually plays pretty big in the saga of King David. (Read the biblical account for yourself in 2 Samuel 15-17.)

When David’s son Absalom attempted to usurp his father’s throne, David decided to leave Jerusalem rather than go to battle against his son. It was a tearful departure from the royal city and “the whole countryside wept aloud” as David and his entourage march out. “David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went.” “When David arrived at the summit…..Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him.”

I love Hushai for that. He was there in the glory days of David’s reign when it was an honor to be on the king’s list of insiders. And he was a faithful companion in David’s saddest, darkest days. I imagine David was comforted to see his friend’s face up on that Mount. There are friends you can call on in times of need, but then there are friends who just know when to show up at your door.

Hushai went on to enter the service of Absalom in order to be a spy for David and he played a key role in undermining Absalom’s plans to attack David. The name Hushai pops up one other time. David’s son Solomon followed his father as king and he appointed twelve district governors, one of which was Baana, son of Hushai. (1 Kings 4:16) It seems that while their fathers were at work in the palace, Solomon and Baana were forging their own friendship.

Friendship is a true treasure. Thank you for being a friend.

 

Treasure

My reading this week took me through four solid chapters in 1 Chronicles that consisted of lists of names like Meshelemiah and Zabdiel and Joshbekashah and Happizzez (kinda like that one). There were lists upon lists of priests, singers, gatekeepers, treasurers, officers and overseers. I thought, “Come on. Really? What’s the point of pages of kooky names from 450 B.C.?”

Perhaps as a reward for muddling through those boring chapters, God saved a treasure for the end of the lists. After naming all the “officials in charge of King David’s property” and recording all the individuals in “the book of the the annals of the King”, there is a pause at the end of chapter 27.

The final list is short – only five people. These men weren’t in charge of the temple or the music; they didn’t stand watch at the gate or do an inventory of the temple treasury; they didn’t lead a division of soldiers or tend the vineyards. These men took care of the King.  They were:

1) Jonathan – (a sensible name) David’s uncle, “a man of insight and a scribe”. David needed an older family member, someone who had known the King when he was just a wee boy and young shepherd. David relied on this man, who had wisdom and knew the scriptures.

2) Jehiel – “took care of the king’s sons”. Not an easy job, as there were at least 19 sons, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 3. Jehiel must have been quite a man to be put in charge of that rowdy crew.

3) Ahithophel – “was the king’s counselor”. We all need counseling.

4) Joab – “the commander of the royal army”. David’s right hand man and confidante.

Here’s the best part:

5) Hushai – “Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend.”

Herein lies the treasure. Even kings need friends.