Bible Insights

David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan

Psalm 162 from Beyond Psalm 150

Though Samuel has already anointed David as king, Saul continues to rule. David could move to seize the throne, but instead he patiently waits for God’s timing. As he does, he respects Saul’s authority as the reigning king. David also forms a tight bond with Saul’s son Jonathan.

When Saul and Jonathan die in battle, the path is clear for David to ascend to the throne that God intended for him. David has every right to rejoice in Saul’s death, since Saul tried to kill him multiple times. But David instead mourns Saul and Jonathan’s passing.

“Your glory, Israel, was slain on your high places!
    How the mighty have fallen!
Don’t tell it in Gath.
    Don’t publish it in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
    lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
You mountains of Gilboa,
    let there be no dew or rain on you, and no fields of offerings;
    For there the shield of the mighty was defiled and cast away,
    The shield of Saul was not anointed with oil.
From the blood of the slain,
    from the fat of the mighty,
    Jonathan’s bow didn’t turn back.
    Saul’s sword didn’t return empty.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives.
    In their death, they were not divided.
They were swifter than eagles.
    They were stronger than lions.
You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
    who clothed you delicately in scarlet,
    who put ornaments of gold on your clothing.
How the mighty have fallen in the middle of the battle!
    Jonathan was slain on your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan.
    You have been very pleasant to me.
    Your love to me was wonderful,
    passing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen,
    and the weapons of war have perished!”

2 Samuel 1:19–27 (WEB)

Reflections on David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan

Like David when hearing of King Saul’s death, we often have two ways to respond to the misfortunes of those who oppose us. We can be happy or sad. We can celebrate or grieve.

How do we respond when something good happens to us at the expense of another, such as the suffering of an enemy? How content are we to wait for God’s perfect timing?

May we react to all situations in a God-honoring way.

Explore the other psalms—sacred songs of praise, petition, and lament—scattered throughout the Bible in Peter’s book Beyond Psalm 150.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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