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My sister, Doreen, celebrates her 70th birthday next January.

Obviously 70 year olds have lived 70 percent of a century - and have also lived 7 percent of a millennium! Mind you, if I related that out of the 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth, she has been alive 3.5 percent of the time, my dear sister would be suitably unimpressed by my fascinating mathematical insights.

How do we make the most of our time on this earth? I remember a story about a man who had only six months to live. His doctor suggested he marry a widow with 12 children. “Will that make me live longer?” the man asked. “No,” the doctor replied, “but it will seem a lot longer.”

In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker argued that human beings try to avoid the finality of death any way theycan, but King David couldn’t deny his own physical decline. He was no longer a fit shepherd strong enough to fight lions and bears, or giants, and no longer was he a healthy, strong soldier. He had become a weary man, shivering in the cold no matter how many blankets his servants piled on him (1 Kings 1:1). David was 70, but his years as a warrior, his family problems, and the pressures of serving as king had all taken their toll on his life.

In 2 Samuel 23 we read the poetic “last words of David.” As death approached, David could still affirm, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me.” Despite his failures and imperfections, David still relied on God’s faithfulness, declaring, “If my house were not right with God, surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part” (v. 5). We have a similar covenant with God, guaranteed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, available to all, embraced by faith, and sealed in baptism. Even at the brink of death, David could confidently affirm God’s intention to “bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire.”

I have a friend who habitually reads a Psalm at night before going to bed. She says it helps her get a good night’s sleep. There’s a sleep aid we can buy at the Chemist’s called Sominex. Perhaps my friend’s spiritual sleep aid could be called “Psalminex.” Sleep is bound to be better when we know our house is in order, and right with God – a simple acknowledgement that the past is forgiven, the present has purpose, and the future is ultimately peaceful and bright.

David “died at a good old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth and honour,” according to the Chronicler (1 Chron. 29:28). He wrote psalms of praise while on earth, and now he abides in the eternal presence of God where praises never cease.

We think death is the final benediction, but actually it is the opening call to worship.