A Heart of Grace – 2 Samuel 1-2

When David received the news that King Saul was dead, one would think that he would have rejoiced.  After all, for over a decade, Saul had been determined to kill him. Believing David to be a threat to his throne, Saul had set out on multiple expeditions throughout southern Israel with 3,000 elite troops to search him out and put him away.

Twice on these missions, the Lord had delivered King Saul to within easy striking range of David, and twice David declined the opportunity to kill him.  Why?  Because he saw something beyond Saul’s physical threats to him and his family.  He saw that Saul had been anointed as Israel’s king by God, and David had respect for all of the Lord’s divine acts.  Saul had been uniquely chosen by God to be Israel’s first king, so he must be something very special in God’s eyes, even if he was nothing but trouble for David.

Instead of celebrating Saul’s death, the news of it brought deep grief to David.  He even wrote a lament about him and had all of his men sing it in Saul’s memory.

19 “The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!

21 “O mountains of Gilboa,
Let there be no dew nor rain upon you,
Nor fields of offerings.
For the shield of the mighty is cast away there!
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.

2 Samuel 1:19, 21, 23 (NKJV)

Saul had been anointed king by God, and David’s heart was filled with the grace of God toward him despite him being David’s biggest threat and enemy.  This is consistent with Jesus’ remarkable command to love our enemies, and helps to see one of the reasons why the Lord views David as a “man after God’s own heart”.

David mourned deeply over Jonathan’s death, as well.  Jonathan and David were Brothers of the Heart – they had a deep, godly love for each other and for the Lord.  Each one had served as an inspiration to the other and the nation, and had been used by God to defeat the Philistines to save Israel.

David’s lament called for no “fields of offering” to be cultivated on the 1,600’ rocky Mt Gilboa, the place of Saul and Jonathan’s death. Though it sits amidst the “breadbasket of Israel” at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys, this low mountain has been left uncultivated and remains largely barren to this day, save for a beautiful covering of purple Gilboa (or Hayne’s) Iris and other wildflowers in the springtime.

Despite his many shortcomings, David is often considered to be a “type” or model of Christ.  This is because of his tender heart of grace which shows through in difficult moments like this.  Just as David exhibited a godly mercy towards King Saul, God looks beyond our sins and failings to deeply love and care for us.  He does this daily as He repeatedly forgives and blesses us far beyond anything that we deserve.  In His great mercy, God routinely does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

With Saul dead, the throne was now available to David, who had been anointed by God two decades earlier to claim the role as Saul’s replacement.  But David did not make any plans to go back into Israel to take the throne by force.  Instead, he was going to let the Lord lead him and guide him each step of the way, one day at a time.  The Lord led David to Hebron, where he was first anointed as king over the tribe of Judah.  He would reign from Hebron seven years before finally taking his rightful place on Israel’s throne, over all the twelve tribes, in the city of Jerusalem. He would rule over both friends and opponents with a heart of grace.


Where has God, in His grace and mercy, blessed you and done for you what you could do for yourself? 

Lord, thank you for loving us with the mercies of Christ our Savior, who bore our sins and shortcomings on the cross.  Help us to prevail above our own dead thoughts and works to live a new life in Christ, just as the Father raised Jesus from the dead. 

Give us a heart of grace like David. Lead us and guide us, one day at a time, to live a life filled with love for You and for others, doing acts of service that are both holy and pleasing to You, which You have prepared beforehand or us to walk in them.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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