September 4, 2023

Three Lives, Three Lessons

2 Samuel 1

Jermaine Harrison
Monday's Devo

September 4, 2023

Monday's Devo

September 4, 2023

Big Idea

No one is immune to sin.

Key Verse | 2 Samuel 1:14

David said to him, "How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?"

2 Samuel 1

David Hears of Saul's Death

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. 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. David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 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.” Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 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. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 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.’”

David's Lament for Saul and Jonathan

17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he said it 1 1:18 Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament's tune should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. 2 1:18 Or of the upright He said:

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! 3 1:21 Septuagint firstfruits
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
    the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

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.

24  You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
    who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
    who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

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.

27  How the mighty have fallen,
    and the weapons of war perished!”


[1] 1:18 Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament's tune
[2] 1:18 Or of the upright
[3] 1:21 Septuagint firstfruits

S2:171 2 Samuel 1

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Dive Deeper | 2 Samuel 1

There are three individuals highlighted in this chapter that we have a lot to learn from as we grow in our own spiritual formation: King Saul, the Amalekite soldier, and David. 

Saul – The end of Saul's life as recorded in 1 Samuel 31 is the profile of a sad end to a promising life. Saul went from the initially humble, first king of Israel, to a bitter, prideful, insecure man whose life was marked by disobedience to God. The lesson we learn from Saul's life is to regularly reflect on our own lives to see where our walk with God stands. That may be through journaling, prayer, or inviting trusted community to share candidly with us their perspective on the trajectory of our lives. As long as there's life, there's hope. Our lives hold promise that can be experienced as we daily yield ourselves to God.

The Amalekite – It's unlikely that this Amalekite's story is true, because we have conflicting evidence in 1 Samuel 31. However, the fact that an Amalekite takes credit for killing Saul is a sad irony. Many years earlier, God had instructed Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15), but Saul infamously disobeyed that instruction. That disobedience haunted him to his very death.

It wouldn't be a stretch to picture Amalek as our sin nature. God instructs us to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). Why?  Because when believers keep comfortable sins alive and well, they may very well lead to our demise. John Owen, a famous theologian once said, "Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you."

David – Multiple times throughout his life, David was presented with opportunities to take the throne of Israel by force, and he refused every time. Even here, when the Amalekite brings him the royal crown and bracelet, he respectfully grieves the loss of Saul and Jonathan instead of rejoicing in an opportunity to be king. David humbly trusted God's timing, and refused to take control of circumstances. May we be marked by a similar respect, humility, and trust!

This month's memory verse

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

– Matthew 5:16

Discussion Questions

1. If you were to use three words to describe the current status of your walk with the Lord, what words would you choose? What three words would the people closest to you (family, friends, community) use?

2. What comfortable sin in your life might you be keeping alive and well that you need to be putting to death?

3. What current life circumstances are you tempted to seize control of instead of seeking the Lord and trusting His timing?

Respond to Today's Passage

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Hugh Stephenson

Good morning, Jermaine!  Really awesome devo!  But that’s no surprise.  Love your link to Amalek and my sin nature. Bullseye.    Also love your John Owen quotation.  A great statement about the constant spiritual warfare battling for my abundant life.       Q1.  Great question.     1.  Steady.  JTJ keeps me on a straight and steady path.     2. Slippery.  I slip off that path too often.  Steady improvement but still far to go.      3. Sanctifying.  I can see my heart drawing closer to God’s and I deeply desire a more intimate relationship with Jesus.  Only the Holy Spirit can keep me safe and on the road God desires for me.   Q2.  This is a HAHA question.  Short answer always is “all of them”.  Gluttony is probably the toughest.  Of all the unhealthy coping mechanisms it’s the one that is hardest to shake.  Binging on MLB and SEC football in September and October is another one.   Q3.  There are still issues with two of our adult children.  Not at a prodigal level but enough to be annoying.  It’s hard to let the results of bad decisions do the teaching.  “If they would only do what I say…”

Hugh Stephenson

If President Biden died suddenly, would I celebrate his death or mourn it?  How about former Present Trump?  Or Senate leaders McConnell or Schumer?  Or House leaders Pelosi or McCarthy?   God calls me to pray and obey for the above noted political offices, (and by implication many others), each day.  It doesn’t matter who is in them.  For a long time I would not do so.  If I thought they were wrongdoers, why would I “pray and obey”?   Have these people pursued me for 10 years and tried to kill me at least ten times?   …NO   So what’s my problem?   I want justice on my timeline and my terms.  As one friend said years ago, “Grace for me and justice for them.”.   Well…David sets a good example, (no surprise).    In his lament he focuses on Saul as God’s anointed.  What about our current leaders?  Are they God’s anointed?     Not as far as I can tell.  But I do note with great interest the directives from Peter and Paul presented below.     1 Peter 2:13-21   13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.   Romans 13:1-4   13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.   PRAY AND OBEY   When initially taught these commands my first reaction was an extended series of “WHATABOUTs”.   What about this or that act or statement?    Well…these commands for Peter and Paul come when the Roman Emperor was Nero.    YIKES!   When am I commanded NOT to obey?   Admonished and humbled, awhile back I added all these offices and the person(s) holding them to my daily prayers.  Plus my state and local leaders. My prayer for them is that they would be bound by all decisions and policies that would be God honoring and Biblically based.  Additionally, for them and their families, I pray that they all come to a saving and surrendered faith.  And yes, that includes Hunter Biden.  Having been a slave to addictions for decades I pray that young man come to Christ and be set free; whatever it takes.  

Michael Sisson

Re: 2Sam 1:8 2Sam 1:8 (NASB) “He said to me, ‘Who are you?’ And I answered him, >>>‘I am an Amalekite.’<<< The Amalekites were descendants of Esau and historically enemies of the Israelites. Re: 2Sam 1:10 2Sam 1:10 (NASB) “So >>>I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen.<<< And I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.” The Amalekite’s account contradicts other reports of Saul’s death. (c.f. 1Sam 31:4-5 and 1Chr 10:4) If Saul had been obedient in killing ALL of the Amalekites as God had commanded years earlier, then this Amalekite might never have been at the scene of Saul’s death. Not wiping out the Amalekites had already cost Saul his royal legacy; ironically this Amalekite now claims to have also taken Saul’s life and finally delivered the crown into David’s hand. Re: 2Sam 1:14 2Sam 1:14 (NASB) Then David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to >>>destroy the LORD'S anointed?”<<< Re: 2Sam 1:16 2Sam 1:16 (NASB) David said to him, “>>>Your blood is on your head<<<, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD'S anointed.’ ” You never want to be like this Amalekite, incriminating yourself in the death of the L-rd’s anointed. (c.f. Mt 27:22-25) Re: 2Sam 1:18 2Sam 1:18 (NASB) and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the >>>song of the bow<<<; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar. The “bow” is a type of Messiah. (c.f. Zechariah 10:4) The book of Jasher (Jos 10:13) was a non-canonical, ancient text known to the Hebrews, but it has been lost to antiquity.

Greg Jones

If a burger is involved I tolerate running too. “As long as there's life, there's hope. Our lives hold promise that can be experienced as we daily yield ourselves to God.” Great takeaway. I see scripture using the Amalekite’s story as a mirror to show shortcomings in David. Part of God being for us is God being for revealing our blind spots to us. How I get there. For context. 1 Samuel 27-to flee Saul’s hand David goes to the land of the Philistines. He finds favor with the king and is given a town within the land, Ziklag. While David and his men lived there they conducted raids on, among other people, the Amalekites. Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. 2 Samuel 27:9 The reason David didn’t leave a man or woman alive is because he didn’t want any witnesses (important to remember) to report back to king Achish concerning who he was raiding. David has been lying to the king concerning that. 2 Samuel 27:10-11. 1 Samuel 29 David and his men, foreigners, (important to remember) are sent (home) from the upcoming battle with Saul. 1 Samuel 30 David and company return to Ziklag and discover that Amalekites have done unto them what they’ve been doing to others…with one exception, they didn’t kill any people. 1 Samuel 31 describes how Saul dies in battle. Easy to overlook but just as important to the story is how Saul’s death is announced. His armor is displayed in a Philistine temple and his body is dishonorably hung on a wall. No honor, no fear of the Lard shown. With the help of a little more context I add to King Saul, the Amalekite soldier, and David, The crown, the message, the messenger to my own spiritual formation The crown and message brought to David by an Amalekite returning from battle vs this chant by David’s men returning from catching up with raiding Amalekites. “This is David’s plunder.” 1 Samuel 30:20 “The crown” vs “the plunder” And the delivery of the crown, the message, and the messenger to this earlier speech given by David to his men. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David’s followers said, “Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder we recovered. However, each man may take his wife and children and go.”  David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. [He has protected us and delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us.] (Ironic concerning who the messenger is.) [Who will listen to what you say?] (Ironic considering the message accompanying the delivery in 2 Samuel 1) The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. 1 Samuel 30:22-25. Sometimes, like David and the Israelites, I don’t hear myself with the perspective that a watching world may have.

Sue Bohlin

Outstanding devo, Jermaine! Particularly connecting the dots between the Amalekites and our sin nature, with a little John Owen on the top. Whoa. I'm glad we are walking at this just-right pace through the story of David so we can appreciate what a good and godly man he was. His trust in Yahweh's timing teaches me how trust leads to ongoing peace with God. He practiced trusting God a long long time--probably about 15 years. (That's FOREVER in our microwave culture!) And I love the beauty and strength of David and Jonathan's amazing friendship. I've heard it said that men who have served in the military together can have a stronger bond than even the marital bond. There's something profound about the shoulder-to-shoulder connection that can bind men's hearts to each other, as David and Jonathan both trusted in Yahweh at a depth far beyond what their families modeled to them. I'm glad they've been enjoying heavenly fellowship with each other for thousands of years now.

Greg Jones

One of the amazingly beautiful things about scripture is how much it engages us and calls out for its reader to challenge his or her thinking. Earlier David is portrayed as a deceiver concerning king Achish whenever he brings back the plunder from raids to Gath. Concerning Saul’s death at who’s hand he dies is left unsettled. It seems that the ambiguity of his death is more important to the story than a factual record recording of his death. Because of ambiguity many contrasts become possible. If the Amalekite is lying about killing Saul is he worse than David who kills Amalekites to cover his lies to king Achish? If he’s telling the truth is he put to death for granting Saul’s request allowing him to die a honorable warrior’s death rather than be found mortally wounded by the enemy and be subjected to a slow disgracing death at the hands of the Philistines? David asked him, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 2 Samuel 1:14 For the Amalekite if he doesn’t do one thing he allows another thing to happen. Which is worse. I liken that choice to Matthew 22:34-40 when Jesus answers the question concerning the greatest commandment. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The prisoner of Saul chose one honorable fate for Saul over another dishonorable fate for Saul at the hand of his enemy. His testimony to his actions where seen as an indictment against command number one, rather than a witness for, the second command, that is like it. With all the information scripture gives me, how do i judge the Amalekite? How do I judge David? In real life concerning real people and real choices all the law and all prophets are at stake in how I navigate between these two commands. Beautiful literature and a sobering reality.

Amy Lowther

1. Three words I could use to describe my current daily walk with the Lord would be: valuable, engaging, and rewarding. Three words others who are close to me would use to describe my walk with the Lord would be: energizing, amazing, and educational. 2. I cannot think of any sins right now. I choose to listen to God when I make decisions. I value God and I appreciate the value He adds to my life. 3. I trust the Lord while I advance in my career. I trust the Lord as I make, spend, and save money.

Victoria Becker

Good morning! This devotional was helpful for me to understand a confusing passage with a lot of names. Thank you for breaking it down, Jermaine! 1. My current walk with the Lord is steady, dependent, and refining. I want to incorporate more DELIGHT into that list. 2. The comfortable sins of control (well, my attempts at control) and comfort (via “numbing out” from difficult situations in life) are keeping alive what I must put to death. I want to live surrendered to God’s plan and awake to what He is doing in my life—even if that brings difficult emotions. 3. I am tempted to seize control in the areas of dating and getting promoted at work. When I resist the urge to control these situations, I am actively growing my faith in God’s timing and provision.