A person’s impending death can bring out a lot of different behaviors in the people around the dying. Death really ought to teach us how to live, how to face our limitations, and how to accept the inevitable. Notice some of the responses of various people in today’s Old Testament lesson concerning the last days of the aged King David.
The servants of David treat the king’s declining health as some sort of problem to be solved in order to avoid or put off his death. Maybe David would be aroused through giving him a beautiful virgin, and he would get back to his old kingly self. David’s son, Adonijah, on the other hand, has just the opposite response; he is impatient to see his father die so that he can pursue his own kingly aspirations. Bathsheba, one of David’s wives and the mother of Solomon, wants to make sure her son becomes king. It seems David is just a pawn who can help her negotiate a difficult situation. Finally, there is Abishag, the young woman who was with David in his final days. It is interesting that we do not have recorded a single word of what she said. She merely serves as a witness to David’s deteriorating health.
Out of these different people, it is Abishag that perhaps teaches us more about death than anyone else. She was simply present and served the king; Abishag was like the ancient version of a hospice volunteer. When faced with the eventual death of a friend or family member, to be present, to listen, and to serve are likely the best forms of dealing with the situation.
The Lord Jesus faced death. He didn’t try to avoid it; he wasn’t impatient to get it over with; and, it was not a difficulty to stoically endure. His death is our life. Christ’s death has brought meaning to both life and to our eventual death.
Gracious Lord Jesus, you faced the agony of death so that I could have life. Thank you for your sacrifice, and for giving my life meaning and purpose. May I live for you in life and in death. Amen.