Thought for the Week - 27th JanuaryPastor Gareth Watkins
1 Kings 2: 1-4
1 Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying:
2 “I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man.
3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn;
4 that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’
This week saw the International Holocaust Memorial Day. If we read stories about the Holocaust, we can see how depraved men can become because of sin. These were normal people doing awful things.
I listened to the radio with a man singing what he called “Songs from Hell”. They were songs that were sung in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It was his job to remember and recall the sons sang by the inmates. He recalled over 700 songs, which he then recorded for history. You can hear then now on the internet. They are harrowing. The eeriness that comes out of those songs is astounding. He said that when the allies were coming, they took 15,000 of these poorest people and put them in German uniforms before loading them into a van. They then burned them alive. That’s how they ended their war.
This is just one small part of what happened. Dachau Concentration Camp had 60,000 men. These are just two camps of many scattered across the whole of Europe. We see the evil that man is capable of. It’s important that we remember it.
Sin is still in this world. The rampant effect of sin is all around us. The effect of is in countries across the world, and it’s also here in our country.
Last week, I wrote of King David. He knew he couldn’t help himself. If we choose a life of sin, we get that life of sin in abundance. The effect of that sin will be multiplied. That life brings its own rewards. David accounts where he is – his soul is far from God, he’s lost in his sin, his joy and peace is gone, his goodness has gone, and his eternal hope has gone.
Why do people keep on choosing sin? And when people group together do they multiplying sins in terrible ways? Put a gang of sinners together and you see some dreadful sins occurring. That’s what we saw with some Germans in the Second World War. These people thought of an evil plan, and they multiplied that evil plan. And we think we’re good. We’re just ordinary people just like them, but sin comes in. The only hope that we have to restore us and to keep us, and to change us, is that Christ will take these sins, cleanse us and restore us.
David knew that. He knew he couldn’t do it himself. He knew only God could restore his hope of eternity. Only God could bring him into God’s presence. In himself he couldn’t demand God to let him into His presence. God Himself allowed David into His presence and to be restored. And it all happened before Christ (BC).
Last week I also wrote about David Hamilton, who we’d seen speaking in the week. He was another sinner. He was involved with paramilitary work. God is still doing the same work because of Christ after Christ’s death. All of those in the Old Testament were saved with Christ coming. We are saved after Christ has come. God still changes people’s lives after Christ has come.
David Hamilton perhaps typifies the extremity of sin. Perhaps we haven’t done some of those things. But this man was a hopeless case, even his mother said it. He was a hard, bitter, nasty man when he was younger. But 39 years after God spoke to him, he’s still a changed man. God has kept him.
He was the main man they went to in order to create the prison riots. He had the potential for a great deal of wickedness that would last. But God came into his life and changed him for the better. He still talks of it to this day. He’s had many health challenges in the natural sense, but spiritually he’s still alive because of Jesus Christ. He’s no longer the hard, bitter, nasty man. He’s a different person.
How did life end for David? The man who had so much blood on his hands that he was unable to build the temple. Is it possible to die a good death? Is it possible to die well?
In the verses above, David is about to die. He knows he’s about to die. Such things come to us at different points in life. David calls his son, Solomon, who’s going to be the next King. David says to him the things he knows in his heart. David is explaining to his son the things that are right in his eyes because he’s learned them inwardly in his heart. He tells him to be strong and to prove himself a man. When it comes to that point of passing, he has to be strong and courageous. It must be a difficult time. Outwardly, everything might be crumbling physically etc. But David knows that inwardly one has to be courageous and strong. David is telling Solomon that whatever is happening mentally and emotionally, to hold on.
David is telling Solomon that when things are not going right, to stay to the course he’s on. God had told him the path he was in, as it was written by the Law of Moses. He’s showing him that if he follow’s it, he will prosper in all that he does. If you follow the laws of God, even on your death bed, these things will follow on afterwards, and come into your family. The prosperity – not the financial things – but the wellbeing of God. You will prosper in all that you do. David knew all those things even as he was coming to that point of passing over.
Sin didn’t have a hold on him.
The sin that had hold of him before didn’t have a hold of him now. That sin that robbed him of his joy, robbed him of his eternity, and stole his inheritance in God, wasn’t there anymore. He knows his future lies before him and that he has to hold on, be strong and courageous. The next steps are going to flow onto his children and the children after that. He’s called Solomon to his side to explain.
That lineage, that promise, run right up to the time of Christ. David when he spoke of these things, spoke a wonderful prophetic story. He spoke of what happens when you’re free from sin, when you’re right with God, and you keep on going until the end days.
Do you think it’s possible that other people have wrote about having a good death? Charles Wesley wrote about it. In 1778 he said that those engaged in holy dying demonstrated their assurance of salvation to themselves, their families and friends, and to God. And when he passed he made various exclamations about these things.
The reality of life takes us through our lives up to the end where we are passing over. And what then? David gives us his testimony. He tells us how it should go. He knows the salvation of God. He knows that from that time on, he’s cleansed from his sin and that salvation doesn’t end when he passes over. It takes him right on into eternity. He will be in the ground, but his soul will pass over under the salvation of Chris, unto eternity where’ll he’ll be safe with God. He’ll be in heaven forever with God.
It’s not just the gospel for the here and now. It’s a gospel that’s for all our days. God is going to be our portion forever and ever.
I was given a scripture during the week. It’s a verse from Psalm 73: 6
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
David knew that whatever was going on in terms of being saved under God wouldn’t just be for the here and now. But God is going to be his portion forever. That salvation isn’t just for this moment. How many people live for the here and now? They live for the quick fix now. We’re talking about the things that last forever – so much different to the quick fixes that are soon gone.
The effects of sin have been taken away from David. He’s able to speak to his son, and speak these blessings into his family. He’s able to know that in God he’s in his rightful place, and that lasts forever. That is such a precious thing. That blessing lasts right into eternity, where God is Himself.
What are our options? Either we go the way of God, or we don’t. And if we decide to go our own way, we can read the consequences in Romans 1: 26-32:
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Every single kind of evil was found in the concentration camps at the time of the Holocaust. That is what happens when people turn away from God. If we choose to walk with God, we get the blessings, the covering, and the longevity. It we choose not to, we need to be aware of what is written in Romans 1. God can give people over to their own debased minds. If we have no morals, then where can our minds wander? God will let us carry on for as far as we want to go. He will allow us to go on whatever road we want to go on.
We have to choose. If we choose to go the way of David we can say our flesh and heart might fail, but God is the strength of our heart and our portion forever.