Yesterday my wife and I attended a funeral in a small community on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. The usual practice there is to conduct family worship and then the minister gives a short address at the local cemetery after the burial.
The hearty singing of the praises of God from the Scottish metrical psalms is worthy of record and being made available to the public.
The opening psalm was the familiar Shepherd Psalm 23:
The main prayer for the bereaved family:
The concluding Psalm 84 sung to the tune Newington.
The presiding minister briefly addressed the bereaved family and mourning friends at the local cemetery from “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”Ps 116:15.
He expanded upon two points in the verse – the description of the godly 1. during their life on this Earth and 2. at their death.
- they are called ‘His saints’. Although the term ‘saints’ has been abused by many, yet it is a biblical term used of the godly in this world, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, where the apostle Paul in his letters addressed the saints in various Christian congregations 2Cor 1:1 and 2Cor 9:1. See also Act 9:13, Act 9:41 Rom 15:25 and throughout the New Testament. It has the basic connotation of being “dedicated to the Lord” and the same Psalm demonstrates this dedication as lifelong love and fellowship with God Ps 116:1-2.
- the description of the saints’ death is “precious in the sight of the Lord”. There are several reasons for this. 1. Freedom – freedom from sin. The saints in glory will be completely free from sin and able to enjoy full fellowship with each other and with God Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. Fitness – the glorified saints are now fully fitted for the worship and service of God throughout the eternity that stretches out before them in eternal blessedness. 3. Fortitude – they are furnished with the strength and ability to love God and their brethren to an extent that was not possible in this world.
Like any good public address the minister concluded with a brief warning about lack of preparation for death and eternity, and more particularly finished with an invitation to seek the Lord by quoting:
“Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.”Isaiah 55:6-7
My concluding thoughts
Death is a sad event but the godly “sleep in Jesus”. Jesus has warmed the grave for His people and He has gone ahead of them to welcome them into heaven.