Serving Your Generation

Thomas Overmiller

There is an interesting statement tucked away in Paul’s message at the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch.

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption; but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption” (Acts 13:36-37).

First of all, this statement proves that Jesus Christ is the prophesied Messiah, when considered in light of the prophecy given in Psalm 16:10 (a Messianic psalm). Paul points out that this prophecy cannot refer to David, the author of the Psalm, because he died (“saw corruption”). Instead, the prophecy must refer to Jesus Christ who resurrected.

Beyond this primary application, Paul makes a statement that I find especially inspiring: “after he had served his own generation by the will of God.”clip_image001

Like David, you have one life to live, and it is given to you for a particular purpose. His purpose was to serve his contemporary generation, especially the people of Israel. But think about this. To say he served his generation is an interesting expression. After all, he was the king of Israel. What does this expression tell us about his life?

Paul uses a specialized word to describe David’s service, one that refers to a free servant. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament makes the following observation:

The special feature of πηρέτης… is that [the servant] willingly learns his task and goal from another who is over him in an organic order but without prejudice to his personal dignity and worth.[1]

First, David was humble before men, adopting the mission of a servant even though he was king. He was concerned about meeting the real needs of his compatriots. Second, David was submitted before God, distinctly recognizing Him as his superior and conscientiously fulfilling his responsibilities in harmony with His desires.

If you are a man with leadership, you would do well to follow David’s example, whatever position you hold. Make it your mission to serve your generation today according to God’s desires. Don’t let a position or title enamor you. Though it may be etched on your epitaph, it will die with you. Cultivate a vision as big as your generation. Make it your mission to bring your generation into the experience of God’s desires for this time. The needs are very big. Though you will inevitably die, like David, the impact you make on this generation will reverberate into eternity.

Thomas Overmiller serves as a Bible professor at Baptist College of Ministry in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

  1. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament , Vols. 5-9 Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 Compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), 8:533. []