2 Samuel 1:4-27 (NRSV)
David said to him, "How did things go? Tell me!" He answered, "The army fled from the battle, but also many of the army fell and died; and Saul and his son Jonathan also died." Then David asked the young man who was reporting to him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan died?" The young man reporting to him said, "I happened to be on Mount Gilboa; and there was Saul leaning on his spear, while the chariots and the horsemen drew close to him. When he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. I answered, 'Here sir.' And he said to me, 'Who are you?' I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.' He said to me, 'Come, stand over me and kill me; for convulsions have seized me, and yet my life still lingers.' So I stood over him, and killed him, for I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. 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."
Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them; and all the men who were with him did the same. They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. David said to the young man who had reported to him, "Where do you come from?" He answered, "I am the son of a resident alien, an Amalekite." David said to him, "Were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?" Then David called one of the young men and said, "Come here and strike him down." So he struck him down and he died. 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 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.) He said:
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!
Ah! Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to death and dying.
We have had a rash of funerals in my church this year and I have also been thinking about a lovely hospice house in my community.
It seems that death is all around us, but in our nation we sanitize it, hide, it, and don't talk about it, as if by making the subject taboo, we can gain mastery over it.
Yet, as I have looked into the grieving faces of people who have lost loved ones, I have learned the importance of saying to people, "I am so sorry for your loss."
Even as Christians, I think that we all need someone to acknowledge that grief is real and painful for the person left behind.
Although the one who has taken flight, is safe, secure, and happy in the arms of Jesus, we, who are left behind, feel sorrow and profound loss.
Just as David needed to publicly grieve his beloved brother, Jonathan, so too do our neighbors, friends, and family members need to be given permission to feel the sadness, anger, and despair that accompanies grief.
Showing sorrow does not make one a bad or unfaithful Christian; it makes us human!
When Lazarus died, scripture records that Jesus wept. Jesus knew that Lazarus would experience resurrection from the dead, but he still wept as he saw the sorrow of others.
On this day, won't you take the time to send a card, make a phone call, or pay a visit to someone who has recently lost a beloved one? You love, care, and ministry will make a difference at this critical time.
Let us pray:
Holy One, thank you that Love gave Jesus to die on the cross to save us from our sin and gift us with eternal life. Thank you that I have the blessed assurance that because Jesus lives, I will live eternally too. Please help me to share this blessed assurance and good news with others. And please help me to prayerfully support those who are grieving, despite their faith in the resurrection. I pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaL