Imagine a funeral. Imagine it’s your funeral. How will you be remembered?
- The passage in front of us shows us five things to be remembered for, things David remembered Saul for.
- Saul is the outgoing king, rejected by God for his rebellion. He had been given 24-hour notice by God that he would die in battle.
- David is the incoming king, anointed and called by God. He has waited over a decade for the open door to be king. But, through discouragement, he left Israel for a season, nearly heading into battle with the Philistines against Israel.
1 Samuel 31:1 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.
1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. 2 And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. 3 David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” 5 Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. 7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ 10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13 And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” 14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” 15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. 16 And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’”
- 31:1 King Saul, having been told by Samuel that he would die (1 Samuel 28:19), fulfilled his kingly obligation by going into battle against the Philistines. With their chariots and swords, the Philistines were able to drive the Israelites onto the gentle slopes of Mount Gilboa, the terrain of which would have slowed them a little.
- 2-3 Eventually, the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, striking down three of Saul’s sons (Jonathan, Abinadab, and Machi-shua), while the archers badly wounded Saul.
- 3-7 Saul begged his armor-bearer to kill him so that he would not suffer the ignominy and pain of long and public torture, but when he refused Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.
- He joined only a handful of biblical characters, including Samson and Judas, to have committed suicide. Suicide is a sin, and an unfortunate one at that, but it is not the rejection of Jesus Christ for salvation. That sin, also known as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, is the only sin which keeps a person from being eternally saved.
- 8-10 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons. They cut off his head and stripped his armor, ingloriously putting his armor in Ashtaroth’s temple and pinning his body to wall of Beth-shan. Messengers were sent throughout the land of the Philistines saying, “Good news! Saul has died! Our gods have won!”
- 11-12 When all the valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead, a town Saul had delivered forty years earlier (1 Samuel 11), heard what the Philistines had done to Saul they went by stealth and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. After burning the bodies, probably to remove the marks of torture, they took their bones and buried them.
- 1:1-4 Flash to David, who had returned from striking down the Amalekites. He had been in Zicklag for two days. On the third day a man came from Saul’s camp, telling David and his men that Israel had lost the battle against the Philistines.
- 5-10 David, renewed in his love for Israel, asked the young man how he knew Saul and Jonathan were dead. The young man replied with a fabricated story that he, an Amalekite, had done Saul a favor and killed him. He delivered Saul’s crown and armlet as evidence. But more than likely he had merely found Saul’s body and had taken these valuables before the Philistines arrived. It is likely he thought David would favor him for killing Saul.
- 11-16 But David (and his men with him) mourned and wept and fasted all day long for Saul and for Jonathan and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel. Eventually, David, acting kingly, commanded this young man’s death, for only capitol punishment was fitting for an Amalekite who had killed Israel’s king! He had, after all, killed the LORD’s anointed!
17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:
- 17-18 Then David wrote a lamentation about Saul and Jonathan his son. They wrote it in a book not in the Bible, called the Book of Jasher (which is also mentioned in Joshua 10:13).
- The lamentation records how David remembered — or would choose to remember Saul and Jonathan.
1 For Our Failures (1:19-21)
19 “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! 20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult. 21 “You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fields of offerings! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
- 19 The mighty: Primarily Saul and Jonathan.
- 19 Fallen: Sad.
David didn’t want it told to God’s enemies:
- 20 Tell it not in Gath: Terrible for the Philistines to know and celebrate the failure.
David did want it told to God’s friends:
- 21 Gilboa / there the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil: Where Saul’s weapons ceased to be useful.
- 21 Mountains of Gilboa: Good for Israel to know and mourn the failure. Some even think the dryness on the lowlands of Gilboah, which meant no animals who would serve as future offerings could pasture there, are still barren and dry as a result of this curse.
- But everyone knew!
It is an uncomfortable truth that our failures are often visible to those who follow us.
- Foes and friends alike will process our failures.
- So Saul’s defeat served (and serves) as a warning.
- You don’t want the eternal testimony of Demas: 2 Timothy 4:10 (ESV) — 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
- Love requires this.
- 1 Corinthians 10:6 (ESV) — 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
- What area of unbelief is holding me back from victory in Christ?
- What area of disobedience is harming future fruit?
- Is there anything I must remedy, or any relationship I must repair, before the end of my life?
2 For Our Fight (1:22-23)
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, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions.
- 22 David spoke of the bow of Jonathan and the sword of Saul. In battle, David says, ”They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions.”
- Jonathan and Saul were victorious for Israel, at times, and David chose to focus on those victories.
- 23 There might even be a veiled indication to Saul’s eternal destiny in the phrase, in life and in death they were not divided.
We will often be remembered for the battles we engaged in, the focus of our lives, the fight we gave ourselves to.
- Colossians 1:28–29 (ESV) — 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
- What is the quest of my life?
- Am I engaged in battles today that I will be proud of tomorrow?
- Who might I pour my life into, helping them become more complete and mature in Christ?
3 For Our Service (1:24)
24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
- 24 Clothed you luxuriously in scarlet / ornaments of gold: Though he sometimes suppressed them, Saul’s leadership had prospered Israel somewhat.
We will be remembered for the way we served other people.
- Saul wasn’t remembered for his looks, though he was a handsome man, head and shoulders above everyone else!
- 1 Samuel 9:2 (ESV) — 2 And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
- You will not be remembered for your looks, your triathlon time, or the number of likes you got on that Instagram post.
- You will be remembered by those you served in this life.
- Commend: those who have served many years.
- Whether they recognize it or not, who will benefit from my life?
- Are there areas of my life I am serving, but don’t immediately recognize as service?
- Do I have current responsibilities I could turn into service?
4 For Our Friendship (1:25-27)
25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! “Jonathan lies slain on your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.
- Do not gloss over this one!
- If you are a believer in Jesus Christ who adheres to the basic teachings of Christianity, you are in the extreme minority in this community.
- Belief in God, the Father almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, who made humanity male and female to live out his image, but whom fell into sin and, therefore, brokenness.
- Belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to die and rise again, who ascended and will return to judge all humanity.
- Belief in the Holy Spirit, the true Christian church of all times and places, forgiveness of sins, the future resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.
- Belief in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which record God’s means of his saving work in the world, and are complete, sufficient, and final.
So you need believing friends!
- We aren’t to entirely separate from the world. - Nor are we to be indistinguishable from the world. - Believing friends help you survive! - **Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)** — 1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
- Do I, or my children, need to prioritize friendships with other like-minded believers?
- Is there another believer I would weep for like David wept for Jonathan?
- Have I allowed fear to keep me from engaging a brother or sister in Christ?
5 For Our True Glory (1:19, 25, 27)
27 “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
- 27 Three times, David sang, “How the mighty have fallen!” (19, 25, 27).
- Remember verse 19? “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!”
- Doesn’t that strike you as an odd title for Saul and Jonathan.
- Remember verse 19? “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!”
- Phinehas’ wife, after the ark was captured by the Philistines — 1 Samuel 4:22 (ESV) — 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
- Samuel to Saul — 1 Samuel 15:29 (ESV) — 29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”
- Who is the glory of Israel? God.
- Who is our true glory? God.
At the end of the day, our glory will not be our lives, but our God!
- Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) — 10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
- Do you spend too much time thinking about your performance and effectiveness?
- Do you need to spend less time thinking about yourself, and more time rejoicing over God?
- Do you need to learn more about God so that you can rejoice in him?