Studies in 2 Samuel. Presentation 01. David’s Reaction to Saul’s Death 2 Samuel v1-27. Presentation 01. Introduction.
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Reaction to Saul’s Death
2 Samuel v1-27
2 Samuel develops the biography of David by unfolding God’s purposes for him and for the nation of Israel. In it we see the old order giving way to a completely new one. The people’s choice which was governed by outward appearance, gives way to God’s choice that was based on a heart-commitment. And as we shall see, the transition was far from smooth. We should not be surprised by this, for the work of God goes on in a world of people, whose personalities and lives are very complicated.
1 Samuel closed with the ignominious death of Saul on the field of battle and with Israel in total disarray. The people must have wondered what the future would hold for them.
David had, in the providence of God, been
prevented from going into battle under the
Philistine flag. Even if he had done so - and
that tactic had been open to him - and then
changed sides in order to fight with his own
people, what might have been the result?
His loyalty would always have been suspect
and his chances, humanly speaking, of
ascending the throne that God had
promised him would have been even
The news of Saul's death, together with Saul's crown, is brought to David by an Amalekite. Why bring it to David? Pagan though he was, the Amalekite may well have been aware that it was David’s destiny to be king - Saul’s fears and Samuel’s anointing would by this time have been in the public domain.
Is it not this case that often people outside of the work of God know a great deal of what is going on inside. This is especially the case if they believe that they can use that knowledge to their own advantage.
The Amalekite's story differs from the record of 1 Sam 31v4... This seeming contradiction is surely due to the Amalekite
making a false claim. Why? He hoped that, if he could
persuade David that he had killed his enemy, then
he would rake in a reward. He is not unlike many
people in the business world today, who falsely
claim to have been responsible for some idea or
some discovery , hoping that their boss will
reward them or promote them!
But in David's eyes, slaying the Lord's anointed,
even although Saul had made himself David’s
enemy, was nevertheless a heinous crime. It was
an act that merited
punishment not reward.
This Amalekite, who was clearly aware of the hostility that Saul held towards David was clearly stunned by the response, of David and his men, to his news. There was no rapturous applause, there were no hearty congratulations.
Instead, their was a genuine mourning for the death of Saul. Clothes were torn - a sign of grief, tears were shed instead of feasting there was fasting! There was no gloating but a genuine sorrow over the loss of life!
They did more than grieve over Saul’s death. God's people had been decisively defeated. And in that context it certainly meant that God's name was dishonoured by a disbelieving world which is ever quick to point out, “In defeating you we have defeated your pathetically weak God!” Bear this in mind the next time the media reports that some Christian leader or Christian work has been publicly discredited. It causes the world to jeer! You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Rom. 2v21-24.
You will have noticed that when the church is doing the work she is supposed to do and exerting an influence for good and for God in the world, then the media is strangely silent. But when a church leader is morally compromised or runs off with the young church worker, it makes headline news! And the world laughs at God.
David found that he was unable to stand detached from the work of God and
from the harm done to it.
And so the messenger, who claimed to have killed Saul was not dealt with instantly. David’s action must not be seen as some
ill-considered emotional outburst. The man is sentenced
to death for doing what David had himself
consistently declined to do, ‘slay the Lord's anointed’.
es, Saul was a wicked man who had done great evil
against David and the people of God but it was
God's place to deal with his wayward anointed
king and not man's. The Amalekite discovered
that often there is a great cost to be paid for
making false claims. His version of events was
believed and as the executioners approached,
it would have been too late to protest that
he had he had fabricated
David's sorrow over Saul's death is as genuine as his sorrow had been over the loss of Jonathan. Therefore, his poem in honour of Saul is not only to be put on record but instruction was given that it should go onto the school curriculum
Surely it was the grace of God that enabled him to love his enemies rather than gloat over their misfortune.
As you read through the poem notice the following points :
David grieves over both unrealised and
wasted potential. Do we find it strange
that David mourned the loss of his greatest
enemy and the greatest barrier to his service
for God? This is not a cause for rejoicing.
Read how Jesus reacted to the knowledge
that Jerusalem would pay a heavy price for rejecting him Lk 19.41... In his broken heart Jesus was saying, ‘Oh it could have been otherwise. If only…if only…'
David is echoing the response of his Lord.
God speaks through the prophet,
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezekiel 18v23ff
Think of the heartache of a minister, who has preached the gospel to someone over a long number of years. He then finds himself taking that person's funeral service. And as far as they know the dead person has never come to faith in Christ - it could have been otherwise, ‘if only….’
David was not blind to the good which Saul accomplished. In his early life Saul had been a mighty man of valour. Think of the way in which he had rescued the city of Jabesh Gilead cf1 Sam. 11.
Both Saul and Jonathan had served the nation well and were worthy of national admiration v23....
Do we reflect David's generosity of
spirit? It is easy, when evaluating a
person's life to be blinded to any
good which they might have
accomplished for we see only
those things that have caused us hurt.
Clearly, David did not try to portray Saul as a saint, but it is interesting to note that there is a veiled silence over his failings.
This is not hypocrisy on David's part. He saw little value in running down the character of the dead king. This eulogy was for public consumption, he did not want unbelievers in their ignorance to mock either God or his work cfv20....
It is perhaps fitting that this eulogy finishes with a tribute to the love and loyalty of Jonathan who died in battle with his father. David and Jonathan had come through many costly experiences together and were equally committed to God and his service. It was this that had forged a relationship that bound them more closely together than to the blood members of their family. The bonds of love which bound David to Jonathan are recorded for posterity.
There was nothing unseemly or improper about David's love of Jonathan. Some advocates in the gay lobby have tried to suggest this was the case. They have argued that v25b provides evidence of David disparaging the love of women. But in order to reach that conclusion they have engaged in eisegesis - reading into the text what they want to find and not allowing the text to speak for itself.
David had found in Jonathan a kindred spirit, and the love of which he speaks is not ‘eros’ love, it is not sexual in nature. Where relationships are not pleasing to God then a hindrance to God's work is inevitable as David’s involvement with Bathsheba makes clear.
David's attitude and generosity of spirit towards Saul, even in his death, contributed towards his winning over many of Saul's supporters!
What an important lesson this has to teach. If, in Christian work, we berate and criticise our predecessor we will quickly estrange those who had been close to him. But if we focus upon and thank God for their accomplishments then the ‘new man’ is less likely to meet with resistance.