Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 16 2019 - 1 Kings 2:1-12 – David's death

David is approaching death and his son Solomon will soon be king. David tells him, "Be strong, act like a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel’" (1 Kings 2:2-4).

David tells Solomon that the prosperity of the whole nation depends upon his faithfulness to the Lord and the faithfulness of the kings who succeed him. We shall see how this works out in the unfolding history of the kings of Judah and of Israel.

It would have been good if David's advice had stopped there; that would have challenged Solomon to live a life pleasing to the Lord. But David has more to say. As he faces death he calls to mind some who have been a help and blessing to him in the difficulties he faced at various times in his life; he asks Solomon to "show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table" (v. 7). They are to be honoured as part of the king's family. But David spends rather more time telling Solomon to punish those who have harmed him or have brought his reign into disrepute; Solomon is to ensure that, unlike David, they do not go down to their graves in peace. David leaves a deadly legacy for Solomon to administer.

How different is the legacy of our Lord Jesus Christ, David's greater son. He is the one whose faithfulness to God has secured his kingdom for all eternity. But he is also the one who did not seek vengeance on those who tortured him to death but prayed that his Father would forgive them. It is because of him and his atoning work that we can rejoice that we are not treated as our sins deserve. Because of his love for us, when we were rebels and sinners, we can now face death without fear, knowing that he has conquered sin and death for us – our "grey head can go down to the grave in peace". We know that he was raised from the dead for us and that we too shall share in his resurrection life – we are embraced as members of his family and shall feast at his table. Jesus has left us, his enemies, a legacy of blessing and of glory.

And Jesus calls us not to be imitators of David but of himself. We also are to be those who forgive our enemies, who refuse to hit back against those who have hurt us. We are to be more concerned to show love and compassion to others than we are to safeguard our own reputation.

If you knew that you were approaching death and you were able to gather your family around you to talk with them, what would be your final words to them? What instructions might you have for them? What legacy will you leave behind for them? What will the executor of your wishes be required to do in your name? How will you be remembered?

Father, thank you for the matchless legacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. In him we have been made heirs to all the riches of his glorious kingdom. Help us by your Spirit to be more like our gracious Saviour: to forgive as we have been forgiven; to love as we have been loved. May our lives bring others to share in this inheritance. Help us to leave a legacy of blessing which will give life to others.

May 16 2013 - John 8:31-59 – The truth will set you free

Jesus offended the Jews when he told them that they needed to be set free. They considered themselves freeborn children of Abraham; they had never been enslaved to anyone. They seem to have forgotten their own history. They call themselves children of Abraham but had forgotten that their ancestors were enslaved and oppressed in Egypt. They had forgotten that it was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who came down to rescue them from slavery and lead them out into freedom. They cannot see that, in Jesus, this is what God is doing again. Instead they deny the very slavery from which they need to be freed.

Jesus responds by saying, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). No matter their parentage or religious credentials, they remain enslaved by sin and on their way to death. Jesus alone can provide freedom from such slavery. Not only can he break the chains of sin, he is able also to conquer death – “Truly, truly, I tell you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death” (8:51).

His listeners responded by asking, “Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (8:53). Jesus replied, “Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). This provoked a scornful response from the Jewish leaders, "You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!" But Jesus does not back down; rather, he makes the even more outrageous claim, "Before Abraham was, I am!"

What did Jesus mean by saying that Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing his day, and saw it? God promised Abraham a son and that his descendants would be as countless as the stars in the heavens. He also promised him that all nations on earth would be blessed through him – through his son; through his descendants.

It seemed to Abraham quite impossible that these promises would be fulfilled for he and his wife, Sarah, were old and beyond hope of having children. Yet Abraham trusted God with whom nothing is impossible; he rejoiced in the prospect of receiving a son as the gift of God. Not only did he rejoice in the prospect, he saw this first promise fulfilled; he and Sarah had a son, Isaac – the one who turned the hoped for joy into the laughter of realised blessing. In this son, Abraham saw the future fulfilment of all of the promises of God.

Jesus is claiming that he is the one in whom all these promises find their fulfilment. More than that, he is the fulfilment of these promises because he is the God of Abraham; he is the great “I am” come down to set his people free.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we all have flaws of character (we hesitate to call them ‘sins’) which hold us captive, which prevent us being the kinds of people that God created us to be. All too often we are resigned to go on living with them; “That’s just the way I am” we tell ourselves – which amounts to an admission of enslavement. We have given up on the hope of freedom now; we hope for freedom only with death. Yet Jesus promises freedom now, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Lord Jesus, you are the truth that sets us free from all that would enslave us. It is for freedom that you have set me free. Captivate me with your love. Help me to stand firm and strong in you and not be burdened again by any enslaving habit or practice. Help me to live by the liberating power of your Spirit and to keep in step with your Spirit. Lead me out of slavery and into freedom.

Peter Misselbrook