May 7.—Morning. [Or September 10.]
“Evil shall slay the wicked.”
2 Samuel 1:1–16
NOW it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
3, 4 And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped. And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
5, 6, 7 And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord. (The probabilities are that this hypocritical fellow had visited the battle-field for the purpose of plundering the dead, soon after the close of the battle. Either he found Saul dead, or else the monarch’s suicidal wound had not yet ended fatally, and the Amalekite finished the deed. His story was told in the hope of winning the thanks of David and a corresponding reward. The crown and bracelet were worth something, but this adventurer hoped lo earn a far higher prize by bringing them to the rival leader. He reckoned cunningly; but little did the Amalekite know that he was not dealing with one like himself but with a man of God. Instead of ingratiating himself for life with the new king, he excited David’s indignation, and, being condemned by his own story, he met with a speedy doom.)
11, 12 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 fallen by the sword. (The man of God felt no joy in his enemy’s death, neither will a gracious heart ever rejoice in the misfortune of others, however cruelly they may have acted.)
13 ¶ And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.
14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?
15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died. (Whether he spake the truth or not, the sentence was just. As there was now no king in the land, David as captain of the host exercised the office of judge and condemned the man out of his own mouth.)
16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord’s anointed. (Thus will all wrong courses sooner or later bring down punishment upon those who enter upon them. The plot looked fair. Who was to discover the falsehood? Were not the plundered ornaments conclusive evidence? David would be sure to ennoble the bearer of such good tidings! The cunning sinner had made one error in his reckoning, and it proved to be a fatal one. Let us take warning and never leave the path of truth. We should abhor every form of deception, for the Lord will not endure liars and will surely overthrow them.)
The Lord is wise and wonderful,
As all the ages tell:
O learn of him, learn now of him,
That all he does is well.
And in his light shall we see light,
Nor still in darkness roam,
And he shall be to us a rest,
When evening shadows come.
May 7.—Evening. [Or September 11.]
“Tell it not in Gath.”
2 Samuel 1:17–27
AND David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
The book of Jasher was probably a collection of national songs and records of heroic acts; it is now lost, for it was not inspired and therefore no special providence preserved its existence. David not only mourned over Saul and Jonathan personally, but he composed an elegy to be sung by the whole nation, and especially by his own tribe. This he entitled “The Bow,” in allusion to the skill in archery for which Jonathan was famous, which is alluded to in the dirge itself. David in thus lamenting over the discarded house of Saul, reminds us of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, whose house is left desolate because it knew not its day.
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
How are the mighty fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa,
Let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you,
Nor fields of offerings:
For there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away,
The shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
And the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided:
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights,
Who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me:
Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
Dr. Krummacher, in his “David, the King of Israel,” has the following excellent passage, “David did not in his lamentation speak too highly in praise of the King. Was not Saul truly a valiant hero? Did not also that which was gentle and tender oftentimes find an echo in his soul? Did not Jonathan and his other sons shew themselves towards him true and faithful children even unto death? All this at that time hovered before the mind of David. With such recollections as these there was associated a deep, sorrowful compassion for the sad fate of the king. And thus it was David’s genuine feeling and sentiment to which he gave full outspoken expression in his lamentation for the dead. These words of the song—‘Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon,’ have, since that time, become a proverb in the circles of the faithful. It is frequently heard when one of their community has failed to take heed to his ways, and, therefore, has given rise to a scandal. Would that the call were more faithfully observed than is usually the case! Would that the honour of the spiritual Zion lay always as near to the heart of the children of the kingdom as did that of the earthly to the heart of David! But how often does it happen that they even strive to disclose before the world the weakness of their brethren, and thus, by a repetition of the wickedness of Ham, become traitors to the Church which Christ has purchased with his own blood. They make themselves guilty of bringing dishonour upon the gospel, by opening the gates to such reproach through their tale-bearing, and to their own great prejudice they disown the charity which ‘believeth all things and hopeth all things.’ ”