2 Samuel 1 David Learns of Saul’s Death

2 Samuel 1-4.  David Rules over Judah

Initially David is recognized as king only by his own tribe of Judah.  The others remain loyal to Saul’s remaining son, Ish-Bosheth.  The coalition of northern tribes, however, is held together only by Abner, the commander of Saul’s army.  It is seven years before David’s partial rule is consolidated, and he is king of a united Israel.

David Learns of Saul’s Death

Report of Saul’s Death: 1:1-27.  An Amalekite brings Saul’s crown and armband to David.  He expects a reward, and tells a tale of striking the death blow himself.  But David mourns for Saul and Jonathan.  Then he has the Amalekite executed for his confession that he killed God’s anointed ruler of Israel.

The lament for Saul and Jonathan communicates David’s surprising appreciation for the feats of his old persecutor.

12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son, for the people of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13 Then David said to the young man who told him, “Where are you from?” And he answered, “I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.”

17 Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son, 18 and he told them to teach the children of Judah the Song of the Bow; indeed it is written in the Book of Jasher: 19 “The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! 20 Tell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon– Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. 21 “O mountains of Gilboa, Let there be no dew nor rain upon you, Nor fields of offerings. For the shield of the mighty is cast away there! The shield of Saul, as though he had not been not anointed with oil. 22 From the blood of the slain, From the fat of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan did not turn back, And the sword of Saul did not return empty. 23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. 24 “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me; Your love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women. 27 “How the mighty have fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

–> David’s sadness over Jonathan, his friend, is understandable.  But, I am trying to understand why David lamented over Saul’s death?  It’s surprising.  How can you mourn the death of a man who tried to kill you?   Because Saul was God’s anointed.  David would not put himself in the judgement seat of the kingship established God.  It shows his faith and reverence to God.

King James Version reads the last part of verse 21 “…the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.”

But the New King James Version reads “… The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.”  This appears to be a mistranslation.

This is a significant error because people would not understand from reading NKJV the reason why David lamented over Saul’s death and made it official.

Another thing to consider is the fact that Saul’s death means David himself would become the king.  David did not celebrate this.  Instead, 2 Samuel, the record of David’s rule, starts with his mourning and giving honor to Saul and his son.  This is in stark contrast to what Saul said to his son Jonathan:

 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 1 Samuel 20:31


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