Morning Light – June 10th, 2015
Today: [2 Samuel Chapter One]: The Unnecessary Death of Jonathan. In this chapter David learns of the death of Saul and of Saul’s son Jonathan. The messenger who informs David of this is ironically an Amalekite – of that nation that Saul was instructed early in his reign to destroy utterly. Saul has paid the ultimate price for disobeying God’s command through the Prophet Samuel. Likewise we find that Jonathan dies in spite of expecting to serve at David’s side after the end of Saul’s kingdom. This is a lesson for us as we realize that ultimately for all the love of Jonathan for David that family obligations snare him and caused the unnecessary loss of his life.
Introduction: 2 Samuel was actually once part of 1 Samuel and one larger book that was divided because of it’s size. The author is unknown but some suggest that the Prophets Nathan or Gad wrote the book or that an unknown author wrote from their notes. The events of 2 Samuel take place 970 years before the birth of Jesus. Some scholars believe that both Samuel 1 and 2 were not written until 200 years later. The purpose of 2 Samuel is to record the events of the 40 year reign of David. It is likely that the book was either written much later or was written by a prophet because of the honesty of the account, revealing not only the many things David did right, but also major transgressions as well.
[2Sa 1:1-27 KJV] 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.
David is still in Ziklag when he hears the news of Saul’s death. The city of Ziklag was burned with fire but apparently still habitable because David and his band were there for two days when this news came to them. The runner that comes from the battle describes the aftermath of 1 Samuel 31 when we supposed that Saul managed to take his own life, however when this person finds Saul his life is still in him and he begs to die. The irony of this event is that the runner who finds Saul is an Amalekite. Early in Saul’s reign Samuel commands Saul by the word of the Lord to destroy utterly every Amalekite and leave none living. Saul disobeys and now at the end of his days pays the ultimate penalty – begging an Amalekite to stand upon his body and take his own life.
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.)
David’s reaction to the death of Saul again reveals he is a man after God’s own heart. Saul is his enemy. Saul pursued David his whole life and brought great misery upon him. Yet upon Saul’s death David is grieved and rends his clothes – whereupon all the men that were with him did likewise. Perhaps if David had been another man these warriors would have rejoiced and shouted in jubilee but they understood that David was a man of a different character who took no joy from the death of God’s anointed king. Where did David learn this deep respect of the anointing of God? It was surely when Samuel anointed him and the scripture states that the spirit of the Lord at that moment “left Saul and alighted upon David”. David knew what was on him and that this same Spirit had been upon Saul and that made those two men a unique fraternity of two that know one else could understand or fully relate two. He knew in his own life and character the change the anointing made upon his life and could understand and relate to the suffering of King Saul in the absence of that withdrawn anointing. Of all the people in Israel Saul understood David and David understood Saul. The mourning of David over Saul is akin to the mourning of Jesus over John the Baptist – the only man who ever truly understood who Jesus was just as Saul understood who David was and what the future held for him.
The Amalekite hoped to receive a reward from David but David instructs one of the young men to fall upon him and take his life for daring to touch God’s anointed king. It is interesting the reference to archery in the next verse. This is a reference to a now lost book of Jasher that recounts that David turns to his men and instructs them to be trained in archery because that is how the Philistines managed to kill Saul. Saul was a formidable warrior and David always the leader and commander doesn’t want to lose any possible advantage in essence saying “since archers were able to kill such a powerful man let us also learn how to wield the bow in battle…”
Now David composes a dirge in honor of Saul and Jonathan which is the first Psalm that is known to us of the many that he will write in his lifetime:
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!
David particularly mourns the life of Jonathan. There was a bond between them that resulted in many deliverances from Saul at Jonathan’s hand but ultimately in Jonathan’s death. Jonathan loved David and according to 1 Sam. 23:17 expected to survive the end of his father’s kingdom and serve with David. But Jonathan was unable to break with his father Saul’s house. We must remember that Jesus was very well acquainted with these verses and would have looked upon the tragic end of Jonathan with reference to the fact that Jonathan expected to take part in David’s kingdom but because of misplaced loyalty he forfeited his life. Hence the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
We would never choose to be estranged from our loved ones but there often will come times when we are faced with a test of our loyalties between natural kinship and the kingdom of God. Many times we have heard the statement that the church is built upon the family but this is not true. The church is built upon Jesus Christ and as such that will result many times in fractions between family members as those who are not following hard after Christ will resent and resist those who are. In that context Jesus describes this dilemma as “taking up the cross”. This is a very narrow interpretation we must pay attention to because many unbelieving Christians will use that metaphor to claim that all sickness, poverty and misery Christians suffer is what it means to take up the cross but this verse plainly shows that is not Jesus’ stated intent. The taking up of the cross and enduring estrangement from loved ones as Jonathan failed to do is what Jesus is referring to. This is a very sobering thought and one for which we should brace ourselves with the knowledge that at some time in our Christian walk we are going to be led by God into avenues of life that will result in broken family relationships. Let us be stalwart in our resolve to keep walking in love and trust that God will work all out in His time when these things happen.
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