David Hears of Saul’s Death
1After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. 2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.
3 “Where have you come from?” David asked him.
He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”
4 “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”
“The men fled from the battle,” he replied. “Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”
5 Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”
6 “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’
8 “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’
“‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.
9 “Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’
10 “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?”
“I am the son of a foreigner, an Amalekite,” he answered.
14 David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”
15 Then David called one of his men and said, “Go, strike him down!” So he struck him down, and he died. 16 For David had said to him, “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”
David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan
17 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):
19 “A gazelle[a] lies slain on your heights, Israel.
How the mighty have fallen!
20 “Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
21 “Mountains of Gilboa,
may you have neither dew nor rain,
may no showers fall on your terraced fields.[b]
For there the shield of the mighty was despised,
the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.
22 “From the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
23 Saul and Jonathan—
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
24 “Daughters of Israel,
weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.
27 “How the mighty have fallen!
The weapons of war have perished!”
David Learns of Saul’s Death
1Now it happened after the death of Saul, when David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, that he stayed two days in Ziklag. 2 On the third day a man came [unexpectedly] from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head [as in mourning]. When he came to David, he bowed to the ground and lay himself face down [in an act of great respect and submission]. 3 Then David asked him, “Where do you come from?” He said, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 David said to him, “How did it go? Please tell me.” He answered, “The people have fled from the battle. Also, many of the people have fallen and are dead; Saul and Jonathan his son are also dead.” 5 So David said to the young man who informed him, “How do you know Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 And the young man who told him explained, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and the chariots and horsemen [of the Philistines] were close behind him. 7 When he turned to look behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 He said to me, ‘Stand up facing me and kill me, for [terrible] agony has come over me, yet I still live [and I will be taken alive].’ 10 So I stood facing him [a]and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. Then I took the crown which was on his head and the [b]band which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”
11 Then David grasped his own clothes and tore them [in mourning]; so did all the men who were with him. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and Jonathan his son, and for the Lord’s people and the house of [c]Israel, because they had fallen by the sword [in battle]. 13 David said to the young man who informed him, “Where are you from?” He answered, “I am the son of a foreigner (resident alien, sojourner), an Amalekite.” 14 David said to him, “How is it that you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15 David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” So he struck the Amalekite and he died. 16 David said to the [fallen] man, “[d]Your blood is on your own head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.’”
David’s Dirge for Saul and Jonathan
17 Then David sang this dirge (funeral song) over Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he told them to teach the sons of Judah, the song of the bow. Behold, it is written in [e]the Book of Jashar:
“Your glory and splendor, O Israel, is slain upon your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
“Tell it not in Gath,
Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
Or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
The daughters of the uncircumcised (pagans) will exult.
“[f]O mountains of Gilboa,
Let not dew or rain be upon you, nor fields with offerings;
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
The shield of Saul, [dry, cracked] not [g]anointed with oil.
“From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely and friends in their lives,
And in their death they were not separated;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
“O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you [h]luxuriously in scarlet,
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
“How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
“I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been a good friend to me.
Your [i]love toward me was more wonderful
Than the love of women.
“How the mighty have fallen,
And the weapons of war have perished!”
- 2 Samuel 1:10 The young Amalekite’s story conflicts with the description of Saul’s suicide as recounted in 1 Sam 31:3-6. He must have, at the very least, witnessed Saul’s death since he was able to obtain the crown and the arm band. He apparently expected that his story about administering the deathblow, whether true or not, would result in some sort of reward or honor.
- 2 Samuel 1:10 This band or armlet was not jewelry, but a piece of armor worn around the arm.
- 2 Samuel 1:12 In general, sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites refers to all the people (males and females) of the various tribes descended from the twelve sons (Gen 35:23-26) of Jacob (later renamed Israel by God). In verses concerning things such as warfare or circumcision sons of Israel or Israel or Israelites usually refers only to the males. Tribes of ancient people were identified by the name of their founding ancestor. Therefore, this same general rule applies when referring to individual tribal groups, e.g. sons of Reuben, Reuben, Reubenites and so throughout.
- 2 Samuel 1:16 I.e. your death is your own fault.
- 2 Samuel 1:18 An early poetic account of the wars of Israel and the heroic acts of the warriors.
- 2 Samuel 1:21 As an expression of his grief David curses the place of Saul’s death.
- 2 Samuel 1:21 It was necessary to lubricate leather shields with oil to preserve them.
- 2 Samuel 1:24 Lit with jewelry.
- 2 Samuel 1:26 Jonathan graciously accepted God’s choice of David as the next ruler of Israel, and supported him, honored him, and wanted the very best for him.