Pa James had spent his life serving God, especially in soul winning. He was about 100 years old when God told him it was time to die and come home.
“Lord, give me two more years so I can win 200 more souls for You.”
God was impressed with the deal. He was going to get 200 more souls into the kingdom if James was kept alive. He was granted his request. Pa James died around 103 having won the souls
Everyone desires to live long. We all want to see our grand and great-grandchildren. It’s why we often use Psalm 118:17 against death. This verse is one of the most used verses of the scripture against death or anything related to it. Anytime there is anything threatening our lives, we are quick to say,
“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”Psalm 118:17 NKJV.
Recently though, I began to think about this verse especially looking at the way we use it as if it confers immortality on us. I am sure you know that many who used this verse are now dead. And deep in our hearts, we know, as we quote this scripture, that we shall die one day.
I came to this conclusion, though you may not agree with me, that quoting Psalm 118:17 doesn’t necessarily give you immunity against death. Or perhaps, there is a context in which it might bring that immunity if we understand it.
Well, you might say that it is unconsciously or indirectly used against untimely death; people meant “untimely death” when they say, “I shall not die.” I agree with you but we should have said, “I shall not die untimely” or find another scripture that deals directly with an untimely death.
All the same, the point is we should stop quoting Psalm 118:17 as if it will confer immortality on us.
Indeed, Psalm 118:17 can be used to deal with untimely death. As a matter of fact, when you fully understand that verse and you allow it to penetrate your spiritual system, untimely death will be far from you.
But I need to correct this first; the incomplete citation or quotation of this verse. The verse didn’t say, “I shall not die” or “I shall not die, but live”. This is what most people quote. The verse actually says, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (KJV).
We often leave the latter part which I consider as the more important part.
The ultimate issue in the verse is not seeking refuge against death (as most of us do) but a commitment to the declaration of the works of the Lord.
The Psalmist was simply saying that he cannot die because he is committed to revealing and declaring the works of God. The reason he won’t die is that there is a work of God he must live to declare. God was bound to preserve his life because his life is an asset to God.
The ultimate antidote to death is a life of purpose. When you are on course for God, He will do everything to preserve your life.
Frivolously shouting, “I shall not die” without a commitment to the works of the Lord will amount to empty, powerless religious pronunciation.
Find and start fulfilling the purpose of your creation and see how God will jealously preserve your life until you are through with your assignment. Security and longevity are apart of the allowances God gives to those who serve Him.
“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”Malachi 3:17-18 NKJV.
This post doesn’t mean that everyone who has lived long is fulfilling God’s purpose. Nor does it mean that everyone who died prematurely (in our own judgment) wasn’t fulfilling God’s purpose.
The point is, in a situation where God would have to choose one of two persons who should be spared of death, He would prefer to keep alive the man who is bringing profit to His kingdom. Sparing the profitable life of death then becomes the distinction between the man that’s serving God and the one that’s not. Of what use will a fruitless tree be to Him?
Remember the parable of the barren fig tree?
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’Luke 13:6-9 NKJV
God is counting the cost. He is taking stock. He is trying to find out whether the profit from our lives justifies the investments He has made. If the result is not commensurate to the investment, the verdict might be, “Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?”
As far as God is concerned, anyone who is not deliberately committed to His purpose is simply using up the ground. He might be moved to cut it down if He is not sure He would get returns from the job, family, opportunities and graces He has given to the man. Perhaps, some of the mysterious and untimely deaths are the aftermath of a decree in heaven to “Cut it down.”
The question is this; if a wave of death is moving around and killing people, can God find a reason to preserve you? Can God stop the angel of death that’s about visiting your house and say, “Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it,’ (Isaiah 65:8)?
The Psalmist was very sure he won’t die because there are works of the Lord to declare. Psalm 118:17 was an expression of that confidence. He was not really praying against death as most of us do. He was expressing a conviction in his spirit.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. It’s about time you stop living in fear of death and find the reason for your creation. This is the best way to prepare for death. This way, you won’t be afraid when death comes. You will be ready to meet your Creator.
Perhaps, most of us are still alive because of God’s mercy and hope in the possibility that we will wake up and begin to bring forth fruit. Maybe this is someone’s “one more year” after which there will be no more. It could be that reading this is God’s show of grace reminding you to get back to what you are created to do.
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