Tuesday, May 17
Reader: “Why were you not afraid”
Response: “to kill the Lord’s anointed one?”
Scripture: 2 Samuel 1:4-27
“What happened?” David demanded. “Tell me how the battle went.”
The man replied, “Our entire army fled from the battle. Many of the men are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.”
“How do you know Saul and Jonathan are dead?” David demanded of the young man.
The man answered, “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear with the enemy chariots and charioteers closing in on him. When he turned and saw me, he cried out for me to come to him. ‘How can I help?’ I asked him.
“He responded, ‘Who are you?’
“‘I am an Amalekite,’ I told him.
“Then he begged me, ‘Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.’
“So I killed him,” the Amalekite told David, “for I knew he couldn’t live. Then I took his crown and his armband, and I have brought them here to you, my lord.”
David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.
Then David said to the young man who had brought the news, “Where are you from?”
And he replied, “I am a foreigner, an Amalekite, who lives in your land.”
“Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” David asked.
Then David said to one of his men, “Kill him!” So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. “You have condemned yourself,” David said, “for you yourself confessed that you killed the Lord’s anointed one.”
Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, and he commanded that it be taught to the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar.
Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills!
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen!
Don’t announce the news in Gath,
don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice
and the pagans will laugh in triumph.
O mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fruitful fields producing offerings of grain.
For there the shield of the mighty heroes was defiled;
the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil.
The bow of Jonathan was powerful,
and the sword of Saul did its mighty work.
They shed the blood of their enemies
and pierced the bodies of mighty heroes.
How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan!
They were together in life and in death.
They were swifter than eagles,
stronger than lions.
O women of Israel, weep for Saul,
for he dressed you in luxurious scarlet clothing,
in garments decorated with gold.
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead on the hills.
How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan!
Oh, how much I loved you!
And your love for me was deep,
deeper than the love of women!
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen!
Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead.
Today’s passage contains an interesting story revealing a unique insight. You’ll recall the boy, David, was anointed king of Israel by Samuel while Saul was still the reigning king. In spite of Samuel’s anointing, David did not usurp Saul’s position, but continued to honor him as God’s anointed. David was willing to wait on God’s timing for his own ascension to the throne of all Israel.
In our story, David and his men had just defeated the Amalekites and Saul and Jonathan had been in a battle with the Philistines. Saul’s war was about 100 miles from where David was so that would be about a three day journey by foot for one person. Coming from Saul’s battle field, the messenger arrived in David’s camp to tell him the news of the death of Saul and Jonathan, thinking it would please David to know his way to the throne was now cleared. (Another of Saul’s sons, Ishbosheth made himself king of Israel for a few years as David was king of Judah. But over a seven year period his power diminished and David became king of all of Israel and Judah.)
Unfortunately for the messenger, he was lying to David apparently hoping for some kind of reward. He did not actually kill Saul as Saul committed suicide. (I Samuel 31:4-6) Chances are he was pillaging the dead and got to Saul before the Philistines found him. “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa . . .” Happened, really? His third lie was that Saul begged “me to kill him.” Saul did not beg him but rather fell on his own sword.
That David had highest regard for the Lord’s anointing is evidenced by his next question to the messenger, “Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” In David’s view, to do so was an affront to God’s choice of a leader. He ordered the messenger killed. David’s life was consistent with this view as he had several opportunities to kill king Saul himself as Saul made multiple attempts to take David’s life, yet he was continuous in his support of Saul as king of Israel.
Out of love and honor, the poet king wrote a funeral lament in honor of Saul and his son, Jonathan. Not surprisingly you’ll notice his comments on Saul had to do more with his position and warrior skill than with his character. His comments on Jonathan have a different tone. Though Jonathan had rights to Saul’s throne, he acknowledged that David was God’s anointed one to succeed his father. David and Jonathan had become very best and very close friends to Saul’s chagrin. From Jonathan’s perspective, his love and friendship with David involved personal loss and risk. At one point, Saul even threw a spear at Jonathan attempting to kill him for this friendship. David’s expression that “your love for me was deeper than the love of women” in no way implies a homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan though modern day advocates for homosexual life styles in religious communities choose to misinterpret and twist this and other passages to support their erroneous and false argument. David had multiple wives and Jonathan was likewise married. All the biblical references to David and Jonathan’s relationship lack any use of sexual language in describing their close friendship. They were simply two men with a very close and deep friendship who loved each other as brothers would. In fact, David virtually adopted one of Jonathan’s sons as part of the royal family following Jonathan’s death.
There is a powerful word here about honoring those God allows in leadership positions.
“. . . all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. . .” (Romans 13:1-2) As a person, Saul was certainly not worth honoring, but David honored him anyway, living out Romans thirteen! What else did David do? He focused on the Lord. Read Psalms 57-63 to see his thoughts as he was running from Saul’s murderous attempts on his life. What do we do in such a situation? Do what David did. Empty your soul before the Lord and pray for the leaders and for God’s glory to be revealed.
Music: “Death Shall Not Destroy” Washington Master Chorale (arr. Shaw-Parker)
Prayer:O Thou Desire of all nations, in the knowledge of whose love and power there is salvation for all the peoples of the earth, hasten the day, I beseech Thee, when all men shall acknowledge Thee as Lord over all. Hasten the day when our earthly society shall become the kingdom of Christ. Hasten the day when Thy presence and the strong hand of Thy purpose shall be found not only in the hearts of a few wise and brave men but throughout the broad land, in court and council-chamber, in workshop and marketplace, in the city and in the fields. And whatever I myself can do, give me grace this day to begin; through Jesus Christ. Amen. ―John Baillie from A Diary of Private Prayer, p.69