This upcoming Sunday the appointed Old Testament lesson and Psalm are Scripture texts that I have commonly used for preaching at funerals.
Isaiah 25:6-9 and Psalm 23 do have a use outside of funerals, but as I prepare for the sermon this weekend I am reminded of how God’s Word has worked through me to comfort the troubled heart. I am humbled by God’s Word and I find that the Word does have the power to preach to my own heart even while I am speaking in the “pulpit.”
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah promises that on the mountain of the Lord there is a rich feast that is filled with food and drink that will nourish us. The host that invites us to be guests at this meal has set the table with His good gifts. It is wonderful that the Lord sets the table because if we set the table with what we have to give it would be filled with death, tears, and disappointment. God takes all that we bring to the table and replaces our poor offering with a rich feast. He swallows up death forever. He wipes away tears. He takes away our reproach (disappointment) from all the earth.
Isaiah tells us what will be said on that day. I want to know can we by faith already start sharing this testimony. On that day it will be said, “Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Can we today, with the confidence of Spirit-filled faith, say, “Let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation”?
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23 is so strongly associated with funerals and dying. In fact, one time when visiting a woman in a hospital I was told to stop reading Psalm 23. I was sharing with her a time of prayer and a reading from Scripture and she told me to stop and pick a different piece of Scripture. She was in the hospital but she wanted to be sure I understood that she was not dying.
Can be honest with ourselves and perceive that we are walking in the valley of the shadow of death. We live in a time of temptation and trial. We must rely on the shepherd to lead us and we rejoice that he does lead us in these last days.