2 Samuel 1 immediately follows the death of King Saul. This is a monumental moment as it marks the transfer of leadership from Saul to David.
Remember that about fifteen years earlier Samuel anointed David to be king in the future (I Samuel 16). This happened just prior to David’s battle with Goliath. From that time until the death of Saul, the people praised David –many times more than Saul. For instance, in I Samuel 18:7, women sang to one another, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Imagine the awkward position David found himself in.
David knew that God chose him to be King in the future, yet for now, Saul was still God’s chosen man for the time being. Over and over the Bible demonstrates this tension in David’s life as he humbly submits to Saul –many times in the face of Saul’s jealousy. Before long, David goes into hiding because Saul tries to kill him (I Samuel 19). This is the point in the story where friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan saves David’s life (I Samuel 20).
Through it all, David always honored Saul. Seems strange to honor a man who is trying to kill you, right? Yet, David refused to take Saul’s life inside a cave (1 Sam. 24:4-22) and later as Saul lay sleeping (1 Sam. 26:1-12).
Now to 2 Samuel 1. Saul has died and it is David’s turn to be king of Judah. At this point, it seems David would have reason to celebrate. The man who has sought to kill him is dead and the throne now belongs to him. Yet, David is grieved and leads the people in a time of mourning.
No doubt, much of this grieving is due to the loss of his best friend, Jonathan. Yet, there is more to the story.
The messenger who brought David the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death was more than an eyewitness. In fact, according to the man’s own testimony, an injured Saul asked the man to kill him in order to avoid humiliation. Pay attention to how David responds to the man’s testimony in 2 Samuel 1:14-16:
David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. And 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.’”
To the very end, David maintained deep loyalty and honor for Saul because he was “the Lord’s anointed.”
Where is this kind of honor today? Moreover, from where does this kind of honor spring?
This kind of honor is only brought about by faith. David’s reference to Saul as “the Lord’s anointed” make this clear. David’s honor was not based upon Saul’s merit, but instead the Lord’s sovereign choosing. Simply put, God had chosen Saul and David honored God’s choice. Who is man, after all, to correct God?
Although David could not understand why God’s chosen would attack him and seek to destroy Him, David did not let circumstances derail his faith.
Faith, of course, is always in response to God. Therefore, the ultimate source of this kind of faithful honor finds its eternal source in Christ. As we abide in Him, and by his strength alone trust Him, we too may display this kind of honor.
What would that look like?
- Perhaps, those who claim to love Christ would begin to honor their nation’s President –even when it seems he is determined to attack Christians.
- Maybe Christians who disagree with their pastor’s decisions, direction, or ideas will cease to criticize him publicly and choose to support him as God’s man for the hour.
- In the workplace, believers would begin to respect their managers and supervisors who malign them, choosing instead to be examples of faithful laborers.
Why in the world, you might ask, would I do that? Don’t you know what our president is doing? You must not know my pastor! If only you had spent time with my boss.
Remember, the president, your pastor, or your boss are not the issue. God’s sovereign choice is the issue. Honoring them is not based upon their merit –but upon God’s wisdom.
By dishonoring others, you dishonor God. It communicates that you don’t trust his providence in placing those leaders in each position.
What if you chose to see them as “the Lord’s anointed?” Instead of hating them or criticizing them, what if you thanked God for them and prayed for them –even when they hurt or offend you?
Like David, you have an opportunity to do something counterintuitive to a worldly standard. You have the opportunity to glorify God by displaying faith in Him through honoring those he has placed in authority above you.
I pray that we all (myself included) will make the honorable choice.