It is with no little trepidation that I stand here, as I know I am among friends who knew David for longer and in a far more intimate way than I ever did. It was my privilege to meet him on only a few occasions but you had many dealings with him and I am sure you can, and would want to, tell me a thing or two about him.

However in those few times that we did meet it became quite clear to me that there were ways in which we were quite similar but also in those similarities quite different. You see there were things that we had in common with each other. So I want try to illustrate four things for us: his origin, his life, his change and his future.

Now as the very first thing of course you need to know is where he came from. You all know how forthright David was – he was never afraid to call a spade a spade. I would put that down to his origins.
And in imitation of him I shall be forthright also: David’s origins were in the promised land – that might explain something else I shall come to later – so I repeat: David’s origins, as everyone who was born there will understand, were in the promised land and so is his future. This is one of the things we had in common.

We were both Yorkshire born – and therefore as is well known about Yorkshire men, we have very deep pockets. So deep indeed that most of us cannot reach the bottom, but David had unusually long arms, and was generous in his spirit. So two Yorkshire men, but David had this over me, he was born in Zion, not one of the ridings of Yorkshire, but York itself. He was a Yorkshireman of Yorkshiremen. And you might add, and it showed!

Secondly in his life, he went to school in Harrogate, but being a bright pupil they sent him away for a better education elsewhere. He was trained as a proof reader – now part of my training involved proof reading as well. This is no mean task. It requires great care and concentration and a huge attention to detail. Now I was really only ever an amateur, and the proof reading we were taught to do was of a fairly rudimentary nature – enough for sets of company accounts. David’s work for the National Library for the Blind meant dealing with whole books – a monumental task.

Thirdly he also came from good socialist stock. For him that led to service as a councillor for Egremont for several years. He wished to serve his fellow men, and in this he is to be applauded. Another way in which this could be seen was in his love for Israel. That was a political love by the way. I know hardly anything about that so must say nothing more and not speculate on what it actually meant in practice.

Then fourthly a change came about in his life. As it did in mine. The change for me came at a rather younger age than for David, but it was just as radical for us both. Let me tell you more about this:

Now you know I was being a Yorkshireman when I said earlier that David had been born in Zion, but let me now be serious about it, and be an elder of the church in Putney. David was really born in Zion you know. And that we have in common too.

You may know the hymn better than the Psalm from which it comes:

Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion city of our God!
He whose word cannot be broken formed thee for his own abode.
On the rock of ages founded, what can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s wall surrounded, thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

See the streams of living waters, springing from eternal love,
Well supply thy sons and daughters and all fear of want remove.
Blest inhabitants of Zion, washed in the Redeemer’s blood.

Saviour since of Zion’s city, I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in thy name.
Fading is the wordling’s treasure, all his boasted pomp and show.
Solid joys and lasting treasure, none but Zion’s children know.

David lived for sixty years as an atheist. But he came to Pocklington Court. Here he met Maggie, and when he met her and she told him that she is a Christian his response had to be that her Christianity would do nothing for him. But slowly he saw what this really meant. He had lived a good life of service, but one day he asked the question, was it all for nothing?

He had lived 60 years of vanity. His atheism and his socialism did nothing for him. He saw that the treasures of this world are indeed fading. He began to see his need of a Saviour. He was a sinner, who stood condemned before God. But there was a Saviour, and his heart began to cry out for him. One day at a service in Putney Peter Bines was speaking and David’s questions about John’s gospel were answered. A few days later he asked for Ernie Heron, who was our LCMary at the time to visit him for a talk. Ernie only had half an hour to spare the next day, but Ernie found he had far more important work to do than that which he had otherwise planned. Here was a sinner, David, wanting to get right with God. They talked. They prayed. David’s heart was opened. Understanding came and before Ernie had left he became reconciled to God through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He became a believer. He became a Christian. He was born of Zion. He began to know solid joys and lasting treasure.

He was soon to be tested! He fell and broke his arm. But what a change there was. The old man who would have raged against this injury and inconvenience now accepted it humbly from the Lord. That is not to say that it was easy for him, but instead of anger there was acceptance.

This could also be seen in his future. He was not ready to retire, but there was the prospect of redundancy as his employer planned a merger with another organisation. Would there be room for him in the new one? Many would worry over this, and the old David would have done so, but again he saw the Lord’s hand at work and was able to rest in him, who knew what the outcome would be and look to the Lord to provide for the future. He was beginning to learn that the provision of God removes all fear of want.

Of course as this change was taking place in David, he and Maggie were getting to know each other and had found in each other companionship and mutual affection. You would have seen they way they pulled each others legs. They certainly did not pull any punches when it came to correcting each other. When David was converted, this could now be given much freedom of expression. Of course David was still a Yorkshireman, and as they are want to be quite blunt about matters, he got down on one knee and proposed to Maggie. Well, Maggie, typically in a fit of pique decided that if this Yorkshireman were daft enough to ask her, then he would just have to live with the consequences of her saying yes. And so they
were engaged.

Shortly after that David asked to be baptised. It was thrilling to hear from him how the Lord had worked in him and brought him from atheism to Christ. He was a changed man. We laid some plans for classes to consolidate his knowledge and understanding. But it was not to be.

Soon afterwards the Lord took David home. Maggie blessed the Lord, who gives and takes away. There was no baptism and no wedding. But David was at home in Zion with the Saviour whom he had come to know and love.

It is in Psalm 87 that we read: The LORD records as he registers the peoples: This one was born there [in Zion].

David was privileged to have been born a Yorkshireman of Yorkshiremen, but he was reborn of the Spirit of God through the work of Jesus Christ a child of Zion. His future is indeed in that land of glory which shall be revealed when Jesus himself returns for David and his people.