David Hears of Saul’s Death
1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”
Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’”
David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan
And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:
“Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
“You mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fields of offerings!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
“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.
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
they were stronger than lions.
“You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
“How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!
“Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women.
“How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished!”
2 Samuel 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
I love a good cup of coffee. In fact, putting a pot of Joe on in the morning is the first thing of my daily routine. In my book, the darker and richer the coffee the better. But on occasion when out and about I’ll grab a cup and it’s horrific and bitter.
Evidently, there are many technicalities that make coffee taste bitter. One main reason is something called over-extraction. That’s the process that pulls the flavor out of the coffee and the chemical reaction that takes place as the coffee brews. Many times this is due to coffee sitting or steeping too long. They say the grind size of the coffee also plays into it. So, if the beans have been coarsely ground, there’s the risk of flat or sour-tasting coffee. If it’s too fine, it can become over-extracted and cause bitterness. Water temperature also plays a large role in this and if it’s too hot bitterness follows. And sometimes the biggest culprit to a bitter cup of coffee is due to the equipment not being cleaned regularly. This is often common with the gas station coffee and sadly some coffee houses. They don’t take the time needed to clean out the residue of the coffee left.
This little boondoggle of mine does have a purpose outside of educating on how to make a good cup of coffee.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”-Ephesians 4:31-32
Much like the making of a bitter cup of coffee, bitterness of the soul leaves a bad taste in your mouth and is caused by very similar results. Many times something has happened to us and we steep in that situation too long. We continue to play the situation over and over again in our thoughts and we finely grind the attitudes we harbor. Our anger being hot, much like the water temperature when brewing coffee, if not cooled down will also feed the fire toward our bitterness taking root. And finally, if we are not leaning upon the Holy Spirit to renew and cleanse us, the residue of our feelings affects everything.
Here in 2 Samuel 1, my mind went toward bitterness upon reading David’s reaction to the death of Saul and Jonathan. Truly, here was a man who had ‘lost’ a good chunk of his time as he fled from place to place from the madness of Saul. He left family, friends, a career and comfort. One would think he would be bitter from the entire ordeal and absolutely relieved he could now move out in the open and fulfill the prophecy of his kingship. Yet, instead, he mourned then wrote a dirge in honor of these. His feelings of Jonathan are no surprise. His words of Saul though are a different matter.
It’s a powerful statement of how the circumstances of David’s life could have produced hatred and bitterness. He could have never wanted to forgive Saul for all he had done. But David chose to respond differently.
How was this possible? David had a deep commitment to his God. He trusted Him despite the hardships and continual oppression his daily life felt. Knowing God was in charge of his life, not Saul or his actions, was where he was able to rest. David, this man after God’s own heart, renewed himself before God and allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse his mind so bitterness would not take root.
2 Samuel 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
There are three versions of Saul’s death mentioned in Scripture and one of them is found here in 2 Samuel 1.
Death Reference #1
1 Samuel 31:4 GNB He said to the young man carrying his weapons, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that these godless Philistines won’t gloat over me and kill me.” But the young man was too terrified to do it. So Saul took his own sword and threw himself on it.
Death Reference #2
2 Samuel 21:11-12 GNB When David heard what Rizpah had done, 12 he went and got the bones of Saul and of his son Jonathan from the people of Jabesh in Gilead. (They had stolen them from the public square in Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hanged the bodies on the day they killed Saul on Mount Gilboa.)
Death Reference #3
2 Samuel 1:8-10 GNB He asked who I was, and I told him that I was an Amalekite. 9 Then he said, ‘Come here and kill me! I have been badly wounded, and I’m about to die.’ 10 So I went up to him and killed him, because I knew that he would die anyway as soon as he fell. Then I took the crown from his head and the bracelet from his arm, and I have brought them to you, sir.”
I believe the first story to be the most accurate depiction of Saul’s death. In the context of 1 Samuel 31, we know that he had been badly wounded by the Philistines and knew he was not going to live much longer. In this sense, Saul had died while in combat with the Philistines, and this is where we get the second version. Although they didn’t strike the final blow, the Philistine army was partially responsible for his death.
The final version we find here in 2 Samuel 1 is simply a lie from an Amalekite in order to try and receive a reward from David.
“The whole account which this young man gives is a fabrication: in many of the particulars it is grossly self-contradictory. There is no fact in the case but the bringing of the crown, or diadem, and bracelets of Saul; which, as he appears to have been a plunderer of the slain, he found on the field of battle; and he brought them to David, and told the lie of having despatched Saul, merely to ingratiate himself with David.”Adam Clarke
If you remember, the reason why God removed his hand from Saul in the first place was because he refused to obey God’s command to eradicate the Amalekites. How ironic that now an Amalekite is the first to remove his royal crown and bracelet?
But Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and did not kill the best sheep and cattle, the best calves and lambs, or anything else that was good; they destroyed only what was useless or worthless. 10 The LORD said to Samuel, 11 “I am sorry that I made Saul king; he has turned away from me and disobeyed my commands.” Samuel was angry, and all night long he pleaded with the LORD.1 Samuel 15:9-11 GNB
The most surprising part of this chapter is the fact that David genuinely mourned Saul’s death. This was a man who had dedicated part of his life to seeing David dead. This was a man who gave David his word that he would not harm him, yet continued to hunt him. David’s response illustrates to us the clear conscience that he had upon Saul’s death. It indicates there was no remnant of hatred or bitterness in his heart for what Saul had done to him.