Reading: “Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat.” 1 Kings 1:1
In World War I thirteen- and fourteen-year-old boy soldiers were common. While families lobbied against it and governments tried to stop it many recruiting officers promoted this because these young soldiers would go “over the top” with no fear; they thought themselves invincible. Their glory was in their youth and vigour.
The reading today presents to us the reality that the once virile and active king is now going the way of all the earth: his natural strength failed and he was no longer able to attend to public affairs. Though not yet quite seventy, he is described as “old and well stricken in years.” Though blest with a vigorous constitution, the king was thoroughly worn out: among the contributing causes, we may mention the strenuous life he had lived and the heavy domestic grief which had fallen upon him.
Consider years earlier when in youth he stood before the bear and lion, the giant Goliath, the deceitful Saul, and the unrelenting Philistines. But this verse reminds us of what Isaiah said in his prophecy: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall” (Isaiah 40:30).
The day is coming when the strongest will be made weak, the fastest will be made slow, and the sharpest will be made dull. Then we will know the smallness of human strength. Therefore Jeremiah reminds us, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace! —Charles Wesley