The Challenge of Loss

Key Verse: “The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!”
—II Samuel 1:19

Selected Scripture:
II Samuel 1:17-27

THE PREVIOUS LESSON disclosed God’s selection of David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, to be the new king of Israel. He was to replace Saul, who had been disobedient to God’s laws, and Samuel had anointed David with Divine approval. David did not, however, become king immediately, but waited humbly for God’s providence to be manifest in the matter.

In this lesson Divine direction is clearly seen in the final removal of Saul as king of Israel, making way for David the new king to assume authority over his people. The Selected Scripture texts record the death of Saul, together with his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, by the Philistines who were warring against the children of Israel.

David was unaware that Saul and his sons had been killed in battle. He learned of the tragedy while in Ziklag, which was a considerable distance from the event. This is an important detail, as David was too far away to be implicated in Saul’s death. Although he had been anointed by Samuel to replace Saul, he neither sought nor desired to be Israel’s king, nor did he seek the king’s death. He displayed a humble disposition and attitude while waiting upon God to reveal his eternal purpose. Rather than being relieved that his way to Israel’s throne was now made clear, David was seized with overwhelming grief. He tore his clothes, mourned, wept, and fasted—and his men did likewise.

He was surprised to discover that the man who reported the events was an Amalekite who fought for Israel in the battle with the Philistines. David learned that this was the very man who had killed Saul, at the king’s own request, after his unsuccessful attempt to take his own life rather than risk capture and humiliation by the enemy. He spoke directly to the man, saying, “How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed? And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.” And David said, “Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord’s anointed.” (II Sam. 1:14-16) The death of Israel’s king was avenged.

David mourned the loss of the king, and was not shy to openly express his grief, nor did he attempt to hide it. His personal relationship with Saul, who was also his father-in-law, had been extremely difficult at times, but he had truly loved and respected him. He was also profoundly grieved over the loss of his beloved friend and confidant, Jonathan. He spoke tenderly of his deep love for both Saul and Jonathan, as well as their love for each other.

David’s grief over Saul and Jonathan is one of the most touching events in the Word of God, and indicates the tender heart condition of the one whom God had selected to rule over the children of Israel. The loss of Saul was a challenging event, but shows God’s providence in the affairs of his typical people.

It was necessary that Saul’s reign over Israel should end. After disobeying God, the Scriptures say, “the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.”(I Sam. 15:35) Those who oppose God must cease to exist.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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