Precious in the sight of the LORD
Is the death of His saints.
Psalm 116:15 NKJV

Sitting at my elderly friend Althea’s bedside, as she prepared to step out of this world and into the arms of her Savior, I couldn’t help but think what a privilege it was to walk this journey to the river’s edge with her. As I reached under her shoulders, gently lifting her to adjust her pillow to make her more comfortable, my friend rested her head against my chest, gently grasped my hand with hers, and with her eyes said, “I love you.” It was a sweet, sacred moment that I will never forget. Such an act of trust to let me share in this last part of her life journey.

Althea wasn’t the first person I’d had the privilege of sitting with, nor was she to be the last. Now, as I find myself once again walking through a season of end-of-life experiences with loved ones, this verse seems even more poignant to me and the memory of my friend even more vivid.

Today’s verse is often used to comfort the dying and those who find themselves left behind. It’s a reminder that death isn’t the end, but a transition—not a cessation, but a separation. A separation of life from our earthly body and from those we love to a heavenly kingdom. (But without Christ, the tragic separation of one’s spirit from God.)

The warning and promise of death first came way back in the Garden of Eden when God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would die. With the first bite, they instantly died spiritually. They hid from God and from each other. They were now separated and for the first time experienced shame and guilt and fear. They had firsthand knowledge of sin, of good and evil.

Their physical death came much later. They would live out the horror of death over and over and over, starting with the death of their son, Abel, at the hands of their other son, Cain. Death would now be passed down to every person ever to be born.

Even the easiest of deaths is not a pretty thing. Death is called the last enemy for a reason. It wracks the body and strips every dignity. And for those left behind, it leaves horrendous pain, grief, and destruction in its wake.

The word “precious” means “brightness, clear, costly, excellent, honorable, of reputation.” So, I ask myself: how could God possibly view such an ugly enemy as death as “precious?”

First of all, the answer lies in whose death He considers precious. For the ones who have rejected Christ, death ushers them from the temporal into permanent separation from God and into His eternal wrath. For them, death is an enemy, the just payment for their sin and their rejection of the salvation purchased by Jesus Christ. Clearly, that is not “precious” to Him; He came to seek and to save those who were lost.

For the believer, death is the promise that we will not be locked in these sinful, decaying bodies forever. Death ushers us into God’s eternal presence, rewards us, and reunites us with those dear, missed saints who have gone before us. Those who have put their faith in what Christ has done are the ones whose death is “precious” in the sight of God.

Yet, as I ponder this, I find another meaning, another kind of death that could be alluded to here as “precious.” The death when our old self dies and a new creation is born. That’s the death when multitudes in Heaven shout, celebrate, and rejoice! It’s that moment we agree with God that we are sinners, lost and in need of a Savior, when we surrender our lives to Him to transform and change us, when He moves in and takes up residence within us. We know it as the moment of our salvation. “‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ now lives in me …’” (Galatians 2:20a NKJV).

And still, I see another death that is “precious” to God, the dying to self that the believer does over and over again every single moment of every single day, as we yield ourselves to Him. Every time we set aside our wants for what He desires, we die to self and live to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 NKJV).

Without the grace of God and the working of His Indwelling Holy Spirit, we would all be dead in our sins for all eternity. But because of His great love toward us, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “‘ … and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’” (Galatians 2:20b NKJV).

“The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” This is the most priceless, precious death of all, that God would come down, take on human flesh and give His life as a ransom for lost sinners like me and you. He was willing to do this so that we would only have to go through physical death one time and then come out on the other side more alive than we’ve ever been—more in fellowship with the Father than we’ve ever experienced. This death enables the old self to die and the new creation to die to self. It is this death that Jesus found joy in marching toward because of the reward at the end of the cross and the other side of the rolled-away stone and the empty tomb. It is what makes the death of His saints precious in His sight.

Be still my soul; the hour is hast’ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

—Katharina Von Schlegel (translated by Jane Borthwick 1855)

Father, Thank You for dying for me—in my place. Thank You for new life in Your Spirit. Give me the strength and desire to lay down my life for You every moment of every day without reservation. Thank You for the hope of Heaven. I can’t wait to see You face to face. I love You, Lord!

Safe in His care,
Donna Perkins




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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