Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 Samuel 1:18
The Bow is the title given to David's poem, and it should rather read "Also he bade them teach the children of Israel the song of the bow." David turned the death of Saul in his song into the means of bringing all the energies, the glowing patriotism, of the land upon national defence. He roused and concentrated the military spirit, and taught them the use, while he taught them the song, of the bow.
I. The song of the bow is a song of trial and discipline. He bade them teach, and teach the children, the young. The song of the bow is a song of war. In the old Hebrew fashion this is full of the grief of life. It is possible, not merely to set the sad things of life to music, but the discipline and endeavour of life itself, so that it becomes a grand overcoming,
II. The song of the bow is not only the song of battle, discipline and trial, but a song of victory and triumph. Let us spell over the illustrious story of our Saviour's death, of His glorious resurrection and ascension, and let us take this as our song of the bow.
E. Paxton Hood, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 365.
Reference: 2 Samuel 1:18-27.—A. P. Stanley, Good Words, 1863, p. 121.
2 Samuel 1:19-27I. One of the first lessons impressed upon us by this lament relates to David's noble-minded forgetfulness of all personal injury.
II. The lament shows how David was able to take the highest and brightest view of human character.
III. The lament impresses us with the beauty of a zealous and tender care for the reputation of the Lord's anointed.
IV. The lament shows how bitter is the distress which follows the irreparable losses of life.
The application of the whole: (1) Let us so live that death will be but a momentary separation. (2) In commending the wonderful love of Jonathan let us remember that there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 359.
References: 2 Samuel 1:20.—J. Edmunds, Fifteen Sermons, p. 123. 2 Samuel 1:21.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, 1887, p. 414.
2 Samuel 1:25This poem owes much of its admirableness to the fact that it combines the passionate love of country and the true love of a friend. If ever a man was born for friendship it was David the king. Once and once only during his long eventful life did he find a man he could love with the multitudinous energy of his heart; and this man was the king's son, the darling of the nation, the "beauty of the forest" they called him, as like a gazelle he bounded from crag to crag in the mountains or dashed through the thickest of the wood. The homage paid by the poet to the beauty and the strength and the glorious prowess of his friend must be supplemented by the homage we know that he paid to the noble generosity of his friend. Such was David's in memoriam to the one personal friend of his life. He delighted to think of his friend's brilliancy, his strength, his courage; he was the champion of Israel, the protector of his countrymen against the natural enemy, and now the enemy was triumphant and the young hero was slain. The poem suggests some thoughts on friendship.
I. If any one of our friends were to die to-morrow, could we find anything in him which has ennobled our life, anything worthy of the stately name of friendship? If not, if the bond was unholy or unprofitable, what shame, what grief will be ours as we think of our departed friend.
II. Let us remember that the grave is not the only teacher though it is one of the most bitter. We are able now, at this moment, while we can still grasp our friends' hands, and see them and walk with them, to see what true friendship is. Like the great Emperor Marcus Aurelius, we can tranquilly set down that we owe that to this friend, and something else to a second and a third; a kindly encouragement, a noble idea implanted, an enthusiasm, a painful duty carried out.
III. And then we can hope to be not only receptive, but to have been able to give back something which our friends have used well. Such a satisfaction as this is worth living for and worth praying for.
H. M. Butler, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. v., p. 99.
Reference: 2 Samuel 1:25-27.—A. P. Stanley, Good Words, 1873, p. 641.
2 Samuel 1:26Two great qualities were combined in Jonathan, courage and faith. With such qualities, who could be more fit to succeed to the sceptre of Israel? And yet Jonathan waived all claim on behalf of the man whom he loved; he recognised in David qualities for rule greater than his own, and without a particle of envy he stood aside to make way for him. He had the true humility of soul which is content to take the lower place, and which is commended by our Lord in the Gospel.
I. The real friend will be like Jonathan, and true friendship is best described by the same words in which true charity is described. True friendship envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not easily provoked, rejoiceth in the truth, and never faileth. In the world with its sorrows and its sufferings, its trials and temptations, there is nothing more truly precious than a real friend, such a friend as Jonathan was to David and David to Jonathan.
II. There is one Friend who is ever near at hand if only we will seek Him. In the Lord Jesus Christ are joined all the qualities of true friendship. He is a firm Friend, a constant Friend, a Friend that giveth good counsel, a Friend who has laid down His life on our behalf.
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 3rd series, p. 139.
References: 2 Samuel 1:26.—C. Kingsley, Four Sermons Preached at Cambridge, 1865, p. 69; T. Guthrie, The Way to Life, p. 156; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 32; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 416; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 107; Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 78. 2 Samuel 1:27.—G. R. Gleig. Good Words, 1871, p. 847. 2 Samuel 1:27.—Congregationalist, vol. vii., p. 659. 2Sam 1—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 22; Parker, vol. vii., p. 79. 2 Samuel 2:4.—J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 451; F. W. Krummacher. David the King of Israel, p. 236. 2 Samuel 2:8.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 229. 2 Samuel 2:26.—Ibid.; C. Kingsley, The Water of Life, and Other Sermons, p. 158; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 367. 2 Samuel 2:29.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 230. 2Sam 2—Ibid., p. 83. 2 Samuel 3:10.—Ibid., p. 231. 2 Samuel 3:17.—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii., p. 101. 2 Samuel 3:17, 2 Samuel 3:18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1375.
It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.
And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?
And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:
And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.
And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD'S anointed?
And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.
And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed.
And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
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.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!