04/04/16 The Death of a Great Man

READING: 2 Samuel 1-3

What do you want said of you at your death? Perhaps more pointedly, what would others say at your death if they spoke truth about you

Abner had been the commander of the Israelite army for Saul, but he redirected his allegiance to David after Saul’s son had turned on him and accused him of sleeping with Saul’s concubine. In the intrigue of an Old Testament war story, David’s general Joab then turned on Abner and killed him because Abner had killed Joab’s brother, Asahel. The story line gets complicated, but here’s the point for this devotion: Abner, who was now on David’s side, was dead. 

David’s response was to call his followers, beginning with Joab, to mourn the death of Abner. David himself walked beside Abner’s bier during the funeral, and the king openly wept and sang a lament for Abner. Perhaps that was undignified for a king to do, but the emotions seem both raw and genuine. Indeed, David even fasted during his day of grief. The people wept again with him, and he reminded them, “Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day?” (2 Sam 3:38). Abner had previously been David’s enemy, but the king was able to forgive him, see good in him, and honor him at his death. 

What will others say about you at your death? If those who know you best speak absolute truth about who you are, what would they say? If you don’t like the answer that comes to mind, use today to start turning your life around. 

ACTION STEPS: Consider these steps:

  • If today were your final day on earth, what would you do? Determine one action step you would take — and can take today — and do it.  
  • If you have a friend who is a “prince and great man,” make sure you tell him (or her) today. Don’t wait until after your friend has died to give honor where it’s due. 

PRAYER: “God, first, let me forgive those who used to be my enemy. Second, let me live in the light of the reality that today could be my last day.”