November 19, 2021

Mourning Foe and Friend

2 Samuel 1:1-27

David took up [a] lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan. . . .

—  2 Samuel 1:17

King Saul and his son Jonathan had died in battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:1-6). So David composed a song of lament to honor them.

How could David mourn for Saul? Saul had tried to kill David several times, and he had spent considerable time hunting David down with his army. Because of that, David had become a refugee in the land of their enemies the Philistines.

Even so, the report of Saul’s death grieved David. Why? Saul had been chosen by God to be the people’s first king. David honored that out of respect for the Lord, and he often called Saul “the Lord’s anointed.”

David’s mourning for Jonathan made sense. He was the first member of Saul’s family to stand up for David. He made a covenant of friendship with David against his own prospects for the throne. Jonathan pleaded with his father to see David as a blessing to Israel, not a threat.

Saul had shown David what not to do as Israel’s leader. And Jonathan had shown how a person can be a true friend. David found no paradox in mourning both of these men. They each gave him something that made him alive to God’s purposes and plans.

Lord of all things, I need to give due honor to the people you have placed in my life. I give you praise for those who have shown me love and friendship, and I recognize the lessons I have learned from others. Help me to honor you in everything I do. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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