In contemporary culture, we have a love-hate relationship with celebrities. On the one hand, we are fascinated by movie stars, singers, and social media influencers. However, we also love to see them get taken down. News of scandal spreads quickly, often with a tone of glee over the person’s demise.
Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.Proverbs 17:5
This month we are beginning a study of 2 Samuel. The book opens in tragedy, recording the downfall of King Saul. Saul had refused to obey the Lord, and God had rejected him as king (1 Sam. 15:26). This judgment was realized in a battle against the Philistines on Mount Gilboa (1 Sam. 31:1–13).
As we begin 2 Samuel, we (the reader) know that Saul is dead. David, however, does not. On the run from King Saul, David was living in exile. He had just returned from attacking a band of Amalekites who attacked his camp and captured many family members (1 Sam. 30:1–30). Three days after David rescued his family, a messenger arrived and gave David the news—Israel had been defeated in battle. Saul and Jonathan were dead.
How would David respond? After all, Saul had been trying to kill him. Also, God had promised that David would one day be king of Israel. We might assume David would rejoice that his enemy had perished. But David does the opposite. He immediately tore his clothing as a sign of grief (2 Sam. 1:11). Seeing God’s judgment implemented upon someone was nothing to rejoice over.
David respected God’s anointing on Saul and had refused to kill him on several occasions when he had the chance (see 1 Sam. 24:4–7). Now that Saul had died, David lamented not only for Israel’s loss but also for Saul’s tragic end.