He that is deeply concerned for the honor of God cannot rejoice in the afflictions that come upon his enemies.
In the disgrace that comes upon them,
let us not forget their former successes and real service.
II Samuel 1
1 Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
3 And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.
4 And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
5 And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?
6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:
12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
13 ¶ And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.
14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed?
15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.
16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD’S anointed.
17 ¶ And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
II Samuel 1 – J. Vernon McGee
2 Samuel 1:1-16 – Touch not Mine Anointed
The scene changes from Gilboa to Ziklag, whither the tidings were carried by an Amalekite. It is remarkable to notice how David received them. Though he had spent years in the rough life of a freebooter, surrounded by coarse and hardened men, he had not lost the delicacy and refinement of his earlier days. To men like Nabal, he seemed an outlaw; but those who were admitted to the inner circle of David’s friendship knew that there was a whole heaven of difference between him and the men who followed him. Let us see to it that by fellowship with God, we keep our nature uncontaminated by the world, its fine edge, not blunted, its bloom not brushed off.
It was genuine grief that made David rend his clothes, and a genuine emotion of horror that led to the execution of this self-confessed regicide. Then from the depths of a guileless heart there poured forth the “Song of the Bow,” one of the noblest elegies in any tongue. Let us speak tenderly of the dead. Let God in His infinite pity judge them, while we scatter rose-leaves on their graves.
2 Samuel 1:17-27 – The Song of the Bow
This noble poem is unrivaled. It is a perfect model of a funeral dirge. It is in poetry what Händel’s Dead March in Saul is in music. The psalmist is borne along both by art and affection. He could not have composed this song unless he had been a consummate artist, and unless he had drunk deep of that divine love which believes, bears, hopes and endures all things and never fails.
He forgets all that he has suffered. His love refuses to consider anything but what has been pleasant and lovely in his liege lord. And for Jonathan there is a special stanza. A brother soul! The Philistines had felt David’s might, but his friend had tasted his sweetness! Terrible as a whirlwind in flight, yet winsome as a woman! But if human love can impute only good to those who are the objects of its affection, what will not God’s love say of us, feel toward us and impute to us! Here is a clue to the exceeding riches of the love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins!
2 Samuel 1:23—Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives.
It was very lovely and pleasant of David to say so. He had no hesitation, of course, in saying this of his beloved Jonathan, every memory of whom was very pleasant, like a sweet strain of music, or the scent of the spring breeze; but he might have been excused for omitting Saul from the graceful and generous epithets he heaped on the kindred soul of his friend. But death had obliterated the sad, dark memories of recent days, and had transported the Psalmist across the dream of years to Saul as he was when he was first introduced to him. All that could be said in praise of the first Hebrew king was crowded into these glowing lines the courage, martial prowess, swiftness to aid those who required help, his pleasantness and courtesy in address.
This is the love of God, which He breathes into the hearts of his children. They become perfect in love, as He is. “God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It is God like for his children to love their enemies, bless those who curse them, and pray for all who despitefully use and persecute them. Is such love ours? Do we forbear from thinking evil? Do we look on the virtues more often than the failures of our friends? Do we cast the mantle of forgiveness over the injuries done to us, and dwell tenderly on the excellences of our foes? Such is the love which never fails, but endures when faith has turned to fruition, and hope has realized its dreams.
We need most of all a baptism of love. A piece of clay will become fragrant if placed in contiguity to attar of roses. Let us lie where John did, on the bosom of incarnate love, till we begin to love as he.