This morning while reading 2 Samuel, I have been blown away by the message contained in these passages. So far I’ve made it to the end of Chapter 4; I highly recommend you read it if you haven’t before, or if you haven’t in a while. This message is hopeful, heavy, convicting, and uplifting all at the same time.
I will start my analysis at 2 Samuel 1:19, with David, soon to be anointed King of Israel, weeping and lamenting the death of Saul. His enemy. Did you catch that? His ENEMY!
Wow. Just wow.
A song of praise, and lament for his greatest enemy. The man who pursued him day and night, robbing him of the comfort of his people and homeland, making him hide in caves and fear for his life every day without rest, and he sings a song for him. Not just any song, a song of Praise and Lament.
Please, do not miss this! David did NOT rejoice in the death of Saul. Those were not happy tears running down his face. David wept wretched tears of sadness over the death of his greatest enemy.
I think his sadness took root in the knowledge that Saul, as evil, warped, and despicable as he had become, was still a child of God. Still loved by God. Still deserving of basic respect for that reason alone.
Can you imagine how God must have felt? Seeing one of His children stray so far away and become so evil? This must have caused Him immense pain. As a parent I can only imagine.
Can you imagine how much worse God’s pain would have been had David sat there and rejoiced at Saul’s death? Would your own father- despite knowing how far you had strayed from the right path, from his loving arms, from honor and goodness- appreciate anyone rejoicing at the fact that you were dead? Of course not! Lost or not, parents still love their children with their whole hearts even while recognizing their children’s faults and flaws.
Back to David. If we continue to read beyond into chapters 2, 3, and 4 we will see that David’s honor did not just stop with the death of Saul. He didn’t just throw up his hands and begin to party since his greatest enemy had been defeated. Why Not? Didn’t he have every right to be happy? To rejoice? To breathe a huge sigh of relief? You would think right?
But no, David does none of things. Instead he recognizes that while Saul may be dead, the road to being King of Israel is still littered with obstacles and so he prayed. That’s right, he prayed. The text says specifically, “He inquired of the Lord.”
David recognizes that he still needs direction and guidance from God. So the first thing he does is pray. Once again I’m speechless.
Then we read further to find out that even after Saul was dead, there was war between his house and the house of David. One of Saul’s men decides to put Saul’s son on the throne as King of Israel. Abner, the man who does this, even kills some of David’s men in a bloody battle.
By all rights David would have seen this man as an enemy. However, when Abner comes to David in an effort to negotiate and make peace, David hears him out. He listens to him. We could expect him to kill Abner on the spot but he does no such thing. He sends Abner away unharmed.
And when David’s men find out they flip. His next greatest enemy, walking away from David unharmed. They must have thought David was crazy. So they take matters into their own hands and decide to kill Abner.
What does David do? He weeps. Again with the weeping!
Another enemy, another apparent victory, another opportunity for rejoicing it seems, but instead David weeps. He curses the house of the men who killed Abner, and he condemns their deed. He even refers to Abner as a “prince” and a “great man”.
But wait, there’s more. Once again, David is confronted by the death of an enemy, and the men who killed his enemy are at his doorstep thinking they will surely get a reward. This time its Ish-bosheth, son of Saul, would be usurper to David’s throne. Can you guess what David does when he is faced with the news of Ish-bosheth’s death? He kills the two men who slaughtered the man. Yup, kills them. He even goes on to say that Ish-bosheth was a righteous man.
So what is our take away? Besides thinking that David has a penchant for looking gift horses in the mouth.
I am struck over and over again by the image of David weeping for and subsequently avenging the deaths of his enemies. Men who would gladly kill him and take his throne. These men are not his friends by any stretch of the imagination, but he weeps for them as if they were his own brothers.
Could it be that David recognized that God requires us to have compassion and respect even for our enemies?
Could it be that, like David, we need to recognize that our enemies are God’s children as much as we are?
Could it b that to take revenge on our enemies, or even to hate them, would be sinful?
Could it be that we are supposed to have faith in God’s promises to do us good always, and so therefore we should not fear our enemies or be moved by a need to see them destroyed before we can “feel good again” or “:feel safe again”?
I think that may just be the whole point. Weeping for our enemies doesn’t make us weak, or flawed, or stupid. It makes us honorable. It shows our compassion. And it highlights our faith in God’s plan for our ultimate good.
I don’t know about you, but it looks like I have a lot to work on.
Please let me know your thoughts and take aways in the comment section! I look forward to hearing what you all think of these chapters.