Battling Bitterness

The second book of Samuel opens with an Amalekite’s account of how Saul died in battle, which had him actually delivering the death-blow to Saul. 1 Samuel 31 had Saul falling on his sword, and when his armorbearer saw that “he was dead” he fell on his sword too.

So whether the Amalekite came upon Saul while life still lingered in him and finished him off at his request; or whether he simply lied in hopes that David would be pleased and reward him…David did not appreciate the Amalekite’s hand had ANYTHING to do with the death of the “Lord’s Anointed.”

1) If we do take the Amalekite’s story as true, this is a chilling irony in the life and death of Saul. Back in 1 Samuel 15, God commanded Saul to completely destroy the people of Amalek in a unique war of judgment. But Saul blatantly failed to do that! And now an Amalekite will bring a bitter end to his tragic life.

Captain of my Soul, help me to obey fully Your edicts. Empower me to utterly put to death the cravings and lust of the flesh, lest it be the death of me!

2) But I can certainly imagine the Amalekite telling a tale of him slaying the king of Israel in hopes it would put him in good graces with David. I spent the first 35 years of my life doing that, and find myself still tempted to do the same. Make me look better than I really am.

The truth of the matter is, the Amalekite probably just happened to be the first person to come across the body of Saul and his armorbearer, and he scavanged the crown and bracelet from him and brought it to David. What would have happened to him if he had just stuck to the truth of the matter, instead of embellishing it?

Jesus, who is full of Grace and Truth, help me to daily experience the freedom that is found in honesty and truth.

When David heard of Saul’s death I would have expected celebration at the death of this great enemy and rival. After all, out of pure jealousy, hatred, spite, and ungodliness Saul took away David’s family, home, career, security, and the best years of David’s life – and Saul was utterly unrepentant to the end. Yet…

…when David heard of Saul’s death, he did not rejoice. Instead, he mourned, wept, fasted and composed a song in honor of Saul and Jonathan. In spite of all that Saul did against David, David spoke well of Saul after his death.

I’m convicted by the powerful testimony of how David kept his heart free from bitterness, even when we was greatly wronged and sinned against. David fulfilled 1 Corinthians 13:5: love thinks no evil. He knew the principle of 1 Peter 4:8: And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.

Does this mean that hatred and bitterness and unforgiveness are chosen? And that they are not necessarily imposed on us? Somehow David chose to become better instead of bitter.

One truth that might have supported David during this time was knowing that God was in charge of his life, and that even if Saul meant it for evil, God could use it for good. Perhaps the years in the wilderness, escaping Saul, really were years when God trained David to be a king!

I wonder if it also helped David to forgive Saul when he remembered how God had forgiven him. David heard the news of Saul’s death and sang the “Song of the Bow” when he was in Ziklag. The city was still filled with burned rubble that was the indirect result of David’s backsliding and sin. David had just come from a time when the Lord had graciously forgiven him – how could he not show a gracious heart towards Saul’s memory.

The contents of David’s song displays for us that he really somehow managed to esteem Saul:

  • David saw beauty in Saul (2 Samuel 1:19).
  • David wanted no one to rejoice in Saul’s death (2 Samuel 1:20).
  • David wanted everyone to mourn, even the mountains and fields (2 Samuel 1:21).
  • David praised Saul as a mighty warrior (2 Samuel 1:22-23).
  • David complimented the personality and loyalty of Saul (2 Samuel 1:23).
  • David called Israel to mourning, and called on others to praise Saul for the good he did for Israel (2 Samuel 1:24).

I have been thinking alot about Jonathan and David and their friendship lately. I’ll scribble something about that next before moving on to chapter 2.

Love of Heaven, thank You for Your forgiveness. I pray that I will walk in it as David did, especially when dealing with those who have offended me. Oh for a heart that esteems every person above myself in a healthy way.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Trinka on March 15, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I read somewhere that “bitterness is poison you drink, hoping someone else will die.” And it’s so true.God DOES “work all things together for good”, and we can trust Him in it!


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