Summary: After Thanksgiving Sermon. Text selected from assigned lectionary passages.
All scripture marked (NIV): The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 . Zondervan: Grand Rapids
All scripture marked (NLT): Holy Bible : New Living Translation. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House, 1997.
Over the last month, I have attended 7 “change of command” ceremonies. “Change of Command” ceremonies are and important part of Army life as we see the guidon passed from one leader to the next. It sets a time for the change to take place. Everybody knows where they stand before and after the change.
At these ceremonies I have heard many different speeches about how well the units performed during this last year and how well they will perform in the future.
As you look to the future, with new commanders and new situations, what do you find important? What would be your last words of wisdom be to your unit, to your friends, or to your family? Would you forget what was most important?
This morning we are looking at 2 Samuel 23, which you can find on page ____ in the Red Bibles in front of you.
These are the last words of David. This is not to say that he said this on his death bed, rather these are understood as David’s last inspired words for the people of Israel. I think of these words as David’s “Change of Command” speech. He knows that he will be dieing. He knows that he will be turning his kingdom over to Solomon. In I Kings 2:1-9, David gives his last instructions to Solomon. But, in the 23rd chapter of 2 Samuel David is talking to his people.
2 Samuel 23:1 is the introduction to his statement. They were probably dictated to a scribe and this first verse identifies the author; David, therefore articulating that this message is one with the authority of David himself.
These are the last words of David:
“The oracle of David son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
Israel’s singer of songs (2 Sam. 23:1, NIV)
David has an important message for the people of Israel. He wants to be completely sure that the people of Israel know whom it is making this statement.
These wise words of David give us an example of what we should see as important in our lives as well, whether we are new in a position or whether we want to see a revival in our hearts and our mission.
His first message is that
1. The Righteous Receive Honor
2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke,
the Rock of Israel said to me:
‘When one rules over men in righteousness,
when he rules in the fear of God,
4 he is like the light of morning at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
that brings the grass from the earth.’ (2 Sam. 23:2-4, NIV)
One of the most impressive sights in Iraq was the Iraqi Sunrise. I used to enjoy running in the early morning, just in time for the sun to be rising over the FOB. Everything was still and quiet. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Slowly the sun would lift itself over the earth and begin to brighten the day.
David says “When one rules over men in righteousness is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning.” Just as I am recalling the greatness of those clear mornings—those who rule with righteousness would be remembered and honored.
There are times when there is darkness; times when the rain must fall but those who rule with righteous, even in the harshest of times, will be honored.
This is a question of character. There is a tendency to rule with power and force, but David teaches to rule with righteousness and in the fear in God.
Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary defines character several ways. One of these definitions describes character as
“one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual”.
We typically describe character in positive ways, but one can be described with good character traits, or bad character traits.
How do you want your character to be remembered?
There is a wonderful book in the PX called “And you know you should be glad”, by Bob Greene. The book is a true story of the author and his friendship with Jack, a boyhood friend. They had been friends for years; in fact, Jack was Bob Greene’s very first boyhood friend. Jack, near he beginning of the book, receives word that he terminal cancer. While dealing with this illness, Greene revisits their lives as friends.