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2 Samuel 1-3

2 Samuel 1-3…Saul’s death.

The final chapter of 1 Samuel recounts a massive battle in which the men of Israel flee before the Philistines. Saul’s three sons are struck down and killed, and Saul himself is wounded. He asks his armorbearer to kill him lest the Philistines have that “pleasure,” but the armor-bearer is too fearful to do it. So Saul allows his body to fall onto his sword. Thus ends the reign of Israel’s first monarch. At least one man, an Amalekite, escapes from the battle and makes his way to David, where he reports Saul’s death at the beginning of 2 Samuel. His account is slightly different. However, he claims to have dealt the death blow to Saul that the armor-bearer refused to give. Apparently he is hoping to curry favor as the man who finally finished off David’s pursuer. But David does not celebrate Saul’s death. Rather, he tears his clothes as a sign of anguish, then mourns, weeps, and fasts till evening. Next he has the self-proclaimed destroyer of God’s anointed king put to death. Finally he composes a lament for Saul and Jonathan, his Song of the Bow, in which he proclaims that a tragedy has befallen Israel.

David’s faith may have been at a low ebb just prior to this unexpected providence. But his reaction to Saul’s death shows that the heart qualities that prompted God to choose him for the throne are still present. David realizes that God has carried out His judgment on Saul, and he takes no joy in it. And he understands that Saul was an effective deliverer for Israel. In light of this dire event, David’s own desire for the throne is a small thing, and he sees that. The selflessness he exhibits here is a wonderful characteristic for any monarch.

God declares in Scripture that He takes no joy in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11), and neither should we. Like David in his mourning for Saul, we must see the deaths of unbelievers for what they are—tragedies caused by sin. Pray for your unsaved friends and family, and warn them of the approach of the day of God’s wrath.

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