1 Chronicles 29:28
And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.
This was the case with King David. "He died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour." With the reverent love of a whole nation round him, they bore him to his royal tomb. "David died, according to Josephus, at the age of seventy. The general sentiment which forbade interment within the habitations of men, gave way in his case, as in that of Samuel He was "buried in the city of David," in the city which he had made his own, and which could only be honoured, not polluted, by containing his grave. It was, no doubt, hewn in the rocky side of the hill, and became the centre of the catacomb in which his descendants, the kings of Judah, were interred after him." "The only site which is actually consecrated by traditional sentiment as the tomb of David, is the vault underneath the Mussulman Mosque of David, on the southern side of modern Jerusalem. The vault professes to be built above the cavern, and contains only the cenotaph usual in the tombs of Mussulman saints, with the inscription in Arabic, 'O David, whom God has made vicar, rule mankind in truth.'" Observing how honoured in death King David was, and how honoured in memory King David is, though his life was so checkered and so seriously marred with wilfulness, indulgence, and sin, we are reminded of the lines often quoted from our greatest national poet -
"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;"
and we ask - Are these lines, in any large and important sense, true; and must we so invert our fixed notions as to admit that the good in our lives is temporary and fading, while the evil is permanent, and must go on, with its mischievous influences, when we have passed away? We cannot think this. What is true about men - especially such public men as David - may be stated under three headings.
I. EVERY MAN'S LIFE, WHILE BEING LIVED, IS SUBJECT TO CRITICISM. We must all accept of this condition. We must not wonder if the criticism finds out and unduly magnifies the evil that may be in us. Though often a source of much bitterness and trouble, and often painfully depressing to the earnest man, it is, on the whole, healthy that public men should be thus exposed, and must take count of the fact that their fellows will never let their wrong-doings or wrong teachings hide away or work in secret. It is more true that the "evil of a man" lives while he lives.
II. IN THE TIME OF A MAN'S DEATH CRITICISM IS DISARMED. Such a time has a strange calming and solemnizing influence even on political and theological opponents. The "other party" will write sketches of the dead man's life without a trace of bitterness or reference to a disputed topic. Perhaps this was never more strikingly illustrated than at the death of the good Dean Stanley. Touchingly tender and beautiful were the references made to him, and all vied in saying good or saying nothing. The good, not the evil, lived after him. And so in David's death-time, all the evil and the enmity were put aside, that the nation might do homage to its great and good king.
III. AFTER DEATH CRITICISM IS KINDLY. By common consent men try to forget the evil, and fix their thoughts only on the good. Biographies scarcely even hint the natural weaknesses, the stumblings, or the stains. Nay, a kind of glory-halo gathers round the heroic dead, in which we even lose sight of their infirmities; and so it is the good in a man that lives after him. Then comes the question - Does our homage in death to a man necessarily imply approval of his career? Yes; it does of his career as a whole - of the great features of it. Though this must be admitted, that the homage is far oftener rendered to genius than to character. R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.
WEB: He died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor: and Solomon his son reigned in his place.