From 2 Samuel 1-3
Second Samuel recounts David’s reign as king of Israel (about 1010–970 B.C.). As promised to Abraham, during David’s reign Israel’s borders were extended roughly from Egypt to the Euphrates. While David had many successes, after his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (ch. 11) both his kingdom and his own family fell into chaos. His son Absalom led a bloody rebellion against him. Nevertheless David, author of many of the Psalms, was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), a model of deep, heartfelt prayer and repentance. The Davidic Covenant of chapter 7 establishes the eternal rule of David’s line, with its ultimate fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ. The author of 2 Samuel is unknown.(The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (2 Sa). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
An Amalekite comes to David after the battle where Saul and Jonathan died. He tells David he killed Saul and gives him his crown and armlet. How do you think David will respond to this news and what the man has done. Will he reward or punish him? In the gospel Jesus warns us many will come before him calling him LORD and giving the appearance of serving him. Jesus has a shocking answer for them as well.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
At the end of 1 Samuel Saul has died in battle. The army of Israel defeated. The Philistines have returned home to celebrate. David earlier tried to join in the battle, but was not allowed (wisely because he would have turned on the Philistines). So he doesn’t yet know the outcome of the battle.
1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. 2 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. (2 Sam 1.1-2)
Where Saul was defeated, David continues victorious. The LORD is with him.
After his victory he returns to his base camp. There on the third day a man comes from Saul’s camp. A survivor?
3 David said to him, “Where do you come from?”
And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.”
4 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.” (2 Sam 1.3-4)
The man has escaped from the camp of Israel. He was a prisoner of war. Probably forced into slavery.
The Philistines had good news to share of their victory (). This slave reveals the bad news to David.
Why did this man escape from the camp of Israel only to go to David’s camp? The news he shares is very important to David.
5 Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”
6 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. 7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ 10 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.” (2 Sam 1.5-10)
This man claims he killed Saul and took the crown and armlet from his dead body.
This is part lie, part truth. Saul killed himself (1 Sam 31.4).
The trouble between David and Saul may well have been well known. He probably assumes David would be glad to hear Saul was dead. This man has given David the symbols of kingship. Perhaps he knows as well David was anointed.
It’s likely the Amalekite thought he would profit if he delivered this news to David.
How would you respond to this news? What would be the appropriate response?
11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 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. (2 Sam 1.11-12)
David and his men mourn the loss of their enemy, their king. They mourn the loss of Jonathan and their house.
Considering all Saul had put David through it would be understandable for David to rejoice. But he reveals some of his character by mourning here. He responded appropriately.
13 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.”
14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?”
15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died.
16 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.’ ” (2 Sam 1.13-16)
David may have had trouble with Saul, but all along he respected the fact that Saul was the LORD’s anointed and refused to strike him down (1 Sam 24.6; 26.11). David punishes the foolish and greedy Amalekite for claiming to kill the LORD’s anointed.
David also demonstrated considerable political awareness and diplomacy in his response. He knew he was next in line since he was anointed as well. He trusted God would make it happen even without his own input. Looking ahead he knew the tribes supporting Saul and himself had to be united under his rule. His public display of grief and mourning helped to draw all the tribes together.
In our passage the Amalekite was greedy. He thought he could impress David by telling him he killed Saul and giving him his crown and armlet. He hoped for a reward. He was surprised by a very unexpected reaction from David.
In the gospel Jesus sometimes surprises us too.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mt 7.21-23)
He rejects what many would consider praiseworthy. Jesus looks at people’s hearts. He knows those who act in obedience to the Father’s will. Some may call Jesus LORD and give the appearance of serving him. But Jesus knows who are his.
These are scary passages that encourage us to consider who we are really serving. Jesus or ourselves.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.