2 Samuel 1-2:7: "Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?"
What will David do when he hears the news of Saul’s death?
Irony surrounds the story of Saul’s death. Saul is killed in battle with the Philistines, the old enemy of Israel. At the same time, David is at Ziklag, a city given to him because he is allied with the Philistine king. While Saul is being defeated, David is returning from a victory over the Amalekites, the people Saul failed to destroy. Perhaps, the greatest irony is that Saul is killed by an Amalekite.
From the account in 1 Samuel it appears that Saul fell on his own sword and killed himself. But that is not the whole story. When the battle ends, an Amalekite finds Saul wounded but not dead. Poor Saul cannot even successfully kill himself! He begs the Amalekite to finish the job. He does, takes Saul’s crown and armband off of him, and brings them to David.
Perhaps this unnamed Amalekite expects a reward from David, for killing his enemy and delivering the crown to him. If so, he could not have been more mistaken. David is incensed that this foreigner rashly did what David himself twice refused to do; he killed the Lord’s anointed. David acts as the instrument of God by having the Amalekite executed, saying, “Your blood be on your head.” David is consistently gracious to his enemy Saul, in life and in death.
David does not rejoice over the death of Saul, but commemorates his life with a lament. The enemies of Israel, the Philistines, should not rejoice over this victory because God’s anointed has been killed. David is lavish in his praise of Saul, calling him loved and gracious while praising him as the one who clothed Israel’s daughters in scarlet and finery.
But it is the loss of Jonathan that wounds David deeply. He praises him as a mighty warrior, but his grief is more personal. He calls Jonathan his dear brother, whose love was more wonderful than the love of women. The friendship of David and Jonathan is one of the most touching stories in history. How dreadful that it had to end this way, with faithful Jonathan suffering the fate of unfaithful Saul. Yet David praises both. He also praises the kindness and courage of the men of Jabesh Gilead who buried Saul.
Faithful God, remind us that you keep your promises to us, your anointed ones.
DR. GARY HOLLOWAY
Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.