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2 Samuel 1:1719, 2427; 2:17 comment (0)

October 30, 2008

By Doug Wilson

Related Scripture: 2 Samuel 1:1719, 2427; 2:17

Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

2 Samuel 1:17–19, 24–27; 2:1–7

Most readers know exactly what they were doing when they heard the news Sept. 11, 2001. Others remember the attempted murder of Gov. George Wallace and the assassination of President John Kennedy. Some can even think back to the day when they heard the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. These were times of shocking news for our state and nation.

In today’s passage, we see a nation coming to grips with a national tragedy. The king and his sons had fallen in battle, and their bodies were hung on a city wall for display. Individuals whom David respected and loved were dead. Now was the time for him to take responsibility as a leader. But how could he lead when he was facing debilitating grief? These two chapters offer insight as to how we may respond to loss as David did.

Express Your Sorrow (1:17–19)
Saul and Jonathan died in battle against the Philistines. At that time, David was warring against the Amalekites, whom Saul failed to completely destroy in 1 Samuel 15. The Philistines hung Saul’s body as a trophy and placed his armor in the temple of false gods. David received the news of Saul’s death from a messenger, who confessed to killing the mortally wounded Saul. As a result, David put him to death for murdering the Lord’s anointed.

In verses 17–19, David wrote a song to express his feelings. Losing a friend, a parent, a spouse or a child — each of these attacks us with grief. Sometimes we express our sorrow in quiet contemplation, while at other times, uncontrollable waves of emotion wash over us. Godly grief, expressed through our individual outlets, helps lead us to a healthy recovery as we face our “new normal.”

Acknowledge Your Loss (1:24–27)
In The Song of the Bow (1 Sam. 1:19–27), which David required the tribe of Judah to learn, he clearly acknowledged the loss of Jonathan and Saul. He told the people to weep over Saul’s death. He expressed his own emptiness in losing his trusted friend Jonathan.

When we lost our pastor’s wife last year, it deeply affected the church and the community. Through his life, his messages and his blogs, Pastor Ed Litton has taught us how to grieve individually and corporately. He taught us how to pray for hurting people by acknowledging his own pain. Just as David faced his losses openly, we must acknowledge ours.

Look for New Opportunities (2:1–4)
While we grieve our lost yesterdays, today remains and tomorrow looms on the horizon. Samuel had long since died, so David could receive no counsel from him. Now that Jonathan was gone, David had no confidant upon whom to rely. With the death of his pursuer, he no longer had to run from Saul. How was David to adjust to this new chapter in his life?

Prayer is the life’s breath of a believer, and David knew to seek the Lord. God gave him direction telling him to go to Hebron. So David settled near Hebron, where he reigned as king seven years and six months (cf. 2:11). The key to facing the future is pursuing God’s will through prayer and responding in obedience to His direction.

Show Kindness to Others (2:5–7)
Warriors from Jabesh-gilead (also Jabesh Gilead) retrieved the bodies of the royal family from the wall of Beth-shan (also Beth Shan), burning the bodies and then burying the bones respectfully (1 Sam. 31:11–13). David pronounced God’s blessing upon these brave men. He showed them favor for risking their own lives to show respect for the Lord’s anointed king. David also encouraged them to “be strong and courageous” under his new leadership, just as God spoke to Joshua and Israel after the death of Moses (Josh. 1:6, 9, 18). In the days that followed, David showed kindness to the remaining house of Saul.

Facing our own loss can pull us into a hole of self-centeredness. John Bunyan referred to a place in “Pilgrim’s Progress” as the slough of despond. One of the ways David avoided this pit of despair was to honor others. Turning his eyes away from himself, he demonstrated kindness to deserving individuals. We would be wise to follow his example.

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