Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 1

David orders the death of the man who killed Saul

2 Samuel 1:13-16

In God’s law, the punishment for murder was death (Leviticus 24:17). God could forgive a guilty person who turned back to him (2 Samuel 12:12-13; Psalm 51:14) – however, no person could pay to save a murderer from his punishment (Numbers 35:31).

David wanted the young man to realise that his crime was much worse even than murder. He had killed Saul, the king of Israel whom God had appointed (1 Samuel 10:1). The ceremony to appoint Saul had separated him from other people to carry out this sacred task. Israel is God’s special and holy nation (Romans 9:4-5). Their king was therefore a holy and special servant of God. It was therefore very wrong and evil to attack him (1 Samuel 26:9-11). A person who did such a thing was guilty of a crime against God (see Psalm 105:15).

It was true that Saul had become a very evil and cruel man. He even tried to kill David on several occasions. However, Saul still remained the servant of God, even when he refused to be loyal to God (see Romans 11:29). Saul’s wicked behaviour did not give any excuse for other people to deal cruelly with him. It is the master of a servant who has the right to punish that servant for his evil deeds.

Therefore, it was for God alone, and not for any person, to punish Saul. That was the reason why David would not allow anyone to hurt Saul (1 Samuel 26:8-10). For that reason, David saw that he must act as a judge after the death of Saul. David recognised his duty to order the punishment by death of the man who had murdered Saul.

Next part: David's poem about the true greatness of Saul (2 Samuel 1:17-21)


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