[I discovered that each Sunday after Pentecost is numbered and I just couldn’t face continuing to number then all – so, it is just the season after Pentecost now!]
“After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.” (II Samuel 1:1)
War is an ugly thing. I have personally have not actually witnessed a war, that is armed combat between two or more real living people where blood is spilled and bodies wounded. But I do not need to see that in order to know war and battles are ugly. And if I had ever, or ever do, see a war and battle, I would need more than two days to recover. But that’s just me.
The the middle portion of chapter one from II Samuel is the telling by the Amalekite of the death of Saul; it does not quite line up with the story from the end of I Samuel. But as I said, war and battle are ugly, and also confusing. One of the two stories might be more accurate. David’s response to the Amalekite was to kill him for killing God’s anointed. It might have been better for that reporter to go with the other story that Saul fell on his own sword.
David’s response and reaction to Saul and Jonathon’s death takes up verse 17 to 27.
“David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.)
Your glory, O Israel, lies 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 will exult.
You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor bounteous fields!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
nor the sword of Saul return empty.
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.
O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with crimson, in luxury, 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;
greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful,passing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
(II Samuel 1:17-27)
“How the mighty have fallen” is usually understand as meaning that those who were in high and lofty positions are now in low and fallen positions. And it is often because they set their sights too high and have reached such a position could not maintain it. David who would become King David might have benefited from this bit of wisdom. But David meant it as a eulogy and praise. Despite all that Saul tried to do to David, David never set out to harm Saul. And that has to mean something when looking at David’s life. And we will be looking at David’s life as the weeks go by. The RCL in the Old Testament passages follows David’s kingship. It is much like a parade passing by. But let us remember this phrase and idea, how the mighty have fallen. And see, maybe, how mighty King David might fall.