Some words or phrases don’t seem to go together. For example.
We call these expressions either an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms.
In today’s Bible reading, there are two words used together that in our modern way of thinking don’t seem to fit. Precious and death.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.
What’s precious about death? When we come to bury a loved one–a father, mother, brother, sister, a close friend, a beloved fellow Christian–what’s precious about that?
When our daughter Rachel was a little girl I called her “little precious.” And she would grin from ear to ear. In fact, I still do sometimes.. And she still grins. We speak of a baby being precious. A cute little girl with a frilly dress. Two little cousins hugging each other.
Death brings separation. Heartache. Hurt. Tears. Grief. Loneliness. Empty homes and hearts. That doesn’t feel precious.
When someone dies, we often respond with shock and exclaim, “Oh, no!” Our words associated with death are tragic. Loss. Sad. Unfair. Too soon. But not precious.
So, how do we understand this passage?
(1) The Lord sees life differently than we do.
God sees from a greater perspective. A loftier outlook. A deeper insight. A heavenly vista. And an eternal viewpoint.
God sees people differently. Just like He saw something in the Shepherd boy, David, that neither His father, Jesse, nor the prophet Samuel saw.
God sees life differently. He sees it as eternal. Earth life, in His plan, is but a preface to life beyond the grave. Death is not the end, but just the beginning. It’s a transition to another phase of life.
(2) How death is precious.
Spurgeon writes that the Hebrew word means “honorable.” “Dear.” “Splendid or glorious.”
The late American film director and producer, Cecil B. DeMille, once shared this wonderful experience that speaks to this point.
“Many years ago I was commissioned by David Belasco to write a play, ’The Return of Peter Grimm.’ The play was being written for David Warfield, and the story hinged upon the continuation of life after death.
“I got the inspiration for that story from a water beetle. I was up on a lake in the Maine woods. The Canoe was drifting. I was reading-resting-searching for an idea. I looked down in the water, for my little craft had drifted to where the lake was only about four inches deep. There in a world of mud and wet, were water beetles. One crawled up on the gunwale, stuck the talons on his legs into the woodwork, and died.
“I let it alone and turned to my reading. The sun was hot. In about three hours I looked at my water beetle again. He was parched. His back was cracking open. I watched and out of the back of that dead beetle I saw crawling a new form–a moist head–then wings. A most beautiful dragonfly. It scintillated all the colors of the rainbow.
“As I sat watching, it flew farther in a second than the water beetle had crawled in days. It hovered above the surface, just a few inches from the water beetles beneath. They did not know it was there.
If God does that for the water beetle, what will He do for you and me?
God promises that we will be given a glorious body. Immortal. Incorruptible. Undefiled. And eternal.
Think about it? A better body. A better home. A better inheritance. Free from sickness. Suffering. Sorrow. And sadness. We will be soaring to new heights unimaginable on the other side of eternity.
(3) The death of His saints.
Not all deaths can be deemed precious. Sadly, we witness the death of those unprepared. Outside of the Body Christ. Unfaithful to the Lord. Or in denial that there is a God.
The text speaks of “His saints.” There is a special place in the heart of God for His people. One version renders this verse. “The Lord values the lives of his faithful followers.”
The verse suggests a unique relationship we may enjoy with our Creator. A familial fellowship. A divine association. A valued connection. And a place of special endearment.
While we may not understand the depth of God’s feeling when our loved ones die, or when we walk the valley of death, we can take comfort in His loving care. In His immutable promises. And in the eternal hope and soothing peace that His presence provides.
Indeed, “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman