July 18: When Kings Mourn
2 Samuel 1:1–2:32; 1 Peter 3:1–7; Psalm 133:1–134:3
No one can tell you how to mourn. You have to mourn as you see fit, making sure you don’t introduce sin into the grieving process.
Several people who were dear to my heart have died. Each time, I processed it differently—immersing myself in work, weeping, or getting angry. If you’ve lost someone close to you, your experience with death is likely similar. But you may have noticed something else in the process: When someone passes away, we become weak and vulnerable to temptation. Wanting to vent our emotions, we may fall prey to sin. But loss is no excuse for sin; there is no excuse.
King David, for all his strength, was always a very broken man when someone important to him died. Such brokenness is understandable, but a king must balance his behavior; he must be careful not to insult those who have loyally fought for him. David’s mourning over his best friend, Jonathan, was completely understandable (e.g., 1 Sam 18:1–4; 19:1–7; 20), but his sense of loss over King Saul was overwrought. We should never celebrate anyone’s death, but God had disowned Saul and anointed David (1 Sam 15:10–16:13). Saul had no right to his throne (see, e.g., 1 Sam 16:14–23). Furthermore, Saul had been trying to kill David and his men (1 Sam 19:8–24; 23:14–29). Yet while David’s overly dramatic mourning of Saul may have offended his supporters, he went well beyond offense and into sin: He killed the man who put Saul to death (2 Sam 1:14–16). In this time period, it was customary for warriors to kill fallen enemies who were dying a slow and painful death, thus making David’s reaction even more outlandish.
We can learn many great things from David, but in this passage, he teaches us what not to do. Don’t let emotions control you in a time of pain, for those emotions could overtake you in temptation to sin.
How can you rely on God during times of mourning? How can you ward off temptation?
JOHN D. BARRY
- After the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and had been two days in Ziklag, Behold, a man came the third day out of the host from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and when he came to David, he fell to the earth, and did obeisance. Then David said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the host of Israel I am escaped. And David said unto him, What is done? I pray thee, tell me. Then he said, that the people is fled from the battle, and many of the peope are overthrown, and dead, and also Saul and Jonathan his son are dead. And David said unto the young mand that told it him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? Then the oung man that told him, answered, As I came to mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear, and lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. And when he looked back, he saw me, and called me. And I answered, Here am I. And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. Then said he unto me, I pray thee, come upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. So I came upon him, and slew him, and because I was sure that he could not live, after that he had fallen, I took teh crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and brought them hither to my lord. Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them, and likewise all the men that were with him. 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 slain with the sword. Afterward David said unto the young man that told it him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger an Amalekite. And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid, to put forth thine hand to destroy the Anointed of the Lord? Then David called one of his young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him, and he died. Then said David unto him, Thy blood be upon thine own head: for thine own mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord’s Anointed. Then David ourned with his lamentation over Saul, and over Jonathan his son, (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah to shoot, as it is written in the book of Jasher.) O nobel Israel, he is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty overthrown! Tell it not in Gath, nor publish it in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. Ye mountains of Gilboa, upon you be neither dew nor rain, nor be there fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is cast down, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. The bow of Jonathan never turned back, neither died the sword of Saul return empty from the blood of the slain, and from the fat of the iniquity. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, which clothed you in scarlet, with pleasures, and hanged ornaments of gold upon your apparel. How were the mighty slain in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. Woe is me for thee, my brother Jonathan: very kind hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women: how are the mighty overthrown, and the weapons of war destroyed!. 2 Samuel 1:1–2:32
- Likewise let the wives be subject to their husbands, that even they which obey not the word, may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives. While they behold your pure conversation which is in fear: Whose apparel let it not be that outward, with braided hair, and gold put about, or in putting on of apparel.. But let it be the hidden man of the heart, which consisteth in the incorruption of a meek and quiet spirit, which is before God a thing much set by. For even after this manner in time past did the holy women, which trusted in God, tire themselves, and were subject to their husbands. As Sarah obeyed Abraham, and called him Sir: whose daughters ye are, while ye do well, not being afraid of any terror. Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them as men of knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, even as they which are heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not interrupted. 1 Peter 3:1–7
- Behold, how good and how comely a thing it is, brethren to dwell even together. It is like to the precious ointment upon the head, that runneth down upon the beard, even unto Aaron’s head, which went down on the border of his garments. And as the dew of Hermon which falleth uon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord appointed the blessing and life forever. Behold, praise ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, ye that by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands to the Sanctuary, and praise the Lord. The Lord that hath made heaven and earth, bless thee out of Zion. Psalm 133:1–134:3