New International Version

2 Samuel 1

David Hears of Saul’s Death

1After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. 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.

“Where have you come from?” David asked him.

He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”

“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.”

Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

“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. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’

“He asked me, ‘Who are you?’

“‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.

“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!”

Footnotes

  1. 2 Samuel 1:19 Gazelle here symbolizes a human dignitary.
  2. 2 Samuel 1:21 Or / nor fields that yield grain for offerings

The Message

2 Samuel 1

11-2 Shortly after Saul died, David returned to Ziklag from his rout of the Amalekites. Three days later a man showed up unannounced from Saul’s army camp.

2-3 Disheveled and obviously in mourning, he fell to his knees in respect before David. David asked, “What brings you here?”

He answered, “I’ve just escaped from the camp of Israel.”

“So what happened?” said David. “What’s the news?”

He said, “The Israelites have fled the battlefield, leaving a lot of their dead comrades behind. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

David pressed the young soldier for details: “How do you know for sure that Saul and Jonathan are dead?”

6-8 “I just happened by Mount Gilboa and came on Saul, badly wounded and leaning on his spear, with enemy chariots and horsemen bearing down hard on him. He looked behind him, saw me, and called me to him. ‘Yes sir,’ I said, ‘at your service.’ He asked me who I was, and I told him, ‘I’m an Amalekite.’”

“Come here,” he said, “and put me out of my misery. I’m nearly dead already, but my life hangs on.”

10 “So I did what he asked—I killed him. I knew he wouldn’t last much longer anyway. I removed his royal headband and bracelet, and have brought them to my master. Here they are.”

11-12 In lament, David ripped his clothes to ribbons. All the men with him did the same. They wept and fasted the rest of the day, grieving the death of Saul and his son Jonathan, and also the army of God and the nation Israel, victims in a failed battle.

13 Then David spoke to the young soldier who had brought the report: “Who are you, anyway?”

“I’m from an immigrant family—an Amalekite.”

14-15 “Do you mean to say,” said David, “that you weren’t afraid to up and kill God’s anointed king?” Right then he ordered one of his soldiers, “Strike him dead!” The soldier struck him, and he died.

16 “You asked for it,” David told him. “You sealed your death sentence when you said you killed God’s anointed king.”

17-18 Then David sang this lament over Saul and his son Jonathan, and gave orders that everyone in Judah learn it by heart. Yes, it’s even inscribed in The Book of Jashar.

19-21 Oh, oh, Gazelles of Israel, struck down on your hills,
    the mighty warriors—fallen, fallen!
Don’t announce it in the city of Gath,
    don’t post the news in the streets of Ashkelon.
Don’t give those coarse Philistine girls
    one more excuse for a drunken party!
No more dew or rain for you, hills of Gilboa,
    and not a drop from springs and wells,
For there the warriors’ shields were dragged through the mud,
    Saul’s shield left there to rot.

22 Jonathan’s bow was bold—
    the bigger they were the harder they fell.
Saul’s sword was fearless—
    once out of the scabbard, nothing could stop it.

23 Saul and Jonathan—beloved, beautiful!
    Together in life, together in death.
Swifter than plummeting eagles,
    stronger than proud lions.

24-25 Women of Israel, weep for Saul.
    He dressed you in finest cottons and silks,
    spared no expense in making you elegant.
The mighty warriors—fallen, fallen
    in the middle of the fight!
    Jonathan—struck down on your hills!

26 O my dear brother Jonathan,
    I’m crushed by your death.
Your friendship was a miracle-wonder,
    love far exceeding anything I’ve known—
    or ever hope to know.

27 The mighty warriors—fallen, fallen.
    And the arms of war broken to bits.