David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar): “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel. How the mighty have fallen! “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. “Mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, may no showers fall on your terraced fields. For there the shield of the mighty was despised, the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil. “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. 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. “Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold. “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 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. “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished! – 2 Samuel 1:17-27
This is the first passage related to water in the book of 2 Samuel. The book begins with the end of the rule and life of Saul and his son Jonathan. David is heartbroken and he shares this lament with the people. I think it shows an amazing level of spiritual maturity for David to mourn the loss of Saul, a man who tried to kill him numerous times. Mourning for Jonathan I can understand as he was faithful to David his whole life, but Saul? This would require a level of forgiveness that I am not sure I could muster.
Laments are not something we really do in our current culture. At least it is not something I have much experience with. It sounds something like a eulogy that is given at a person’s funeral, except this is a corporate lament for the loss of a leader. I think this sort of thing was more common when monarchies were around. Perhaps it is an important part of the succession process from one ruler to the next.
I have been reflecting on this passage for most of the day and David’s seemingly superhuman level of forgiveness for Saul. I have come to the conclusion that David was unwilling to usurp God’s authority, even when Saul in essence abdicated his crown through his own actions. It would have been so easy for David to seek retribution and revenge for how hard Saul made his life, but he didn’t. David trusted God’s plan for his life and the Israelites.
The water imagery here is interesting. The mountains of Gilboa is where the Amalekites killed Saul and Jonathan. It is the place where men slayed God’s anointed. David’s lament recounts that the mountains of Gilboa will get no rain or dew. They are to be cut off from God and his spirit. He will not provide for those people in that place because they have cut themselves off from God through their actions.
God gives us the freedom to cut ourselves off from God…to be free of God if we choose. When we disconnect ourselves from the spring we wither and we do not produce fruit. That is the fate of the people of Gilboa, and the fate of those that choose to cut themselves off from God. If we find ourselves failing to produce fruit perhaps it is because we have cut ourselves off from God.
Prayer: God help us to remain connected to You and to trust your plan for our lives.