Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 1

David’s poem about the true greatness of Saul

2 Samuel 1:17-21

I worry that, often, the descriptions of people are too simple. We consider ourselves able to describe a person’s character in just a few words. We forget how complex people’s lives truly are, with all their experiences of love, desire, failure, pain and disappointment.

For example, we could describe Saul as a cruel king who was guilty of many evil acts. That description is true, especially about the later years of his life. However, we have not expressed the true greatness of Saul, the first king of Israel. He was the man who, for 40 years, led the armies of Israel, God’s special nation. He was a powerful leader and a brave soldier. God used him to rescue Israel from its enemies – especially from Philistia’s powerful army, which he often fought.

Saul’s death was a truly great loss for Israel. It caused David pain to think of the joy that the news would bring to the women in Philistia. Circumcision (a minor operation on the male sex part) was the mark of Israel’s relationship with God (Genesis chapter 17). People who did not accept circumcision, the nations without a relationship with God, would be glad to hear about Saul’s death.

David even spoke against the hills where Saul had died. It seemed wrong that happy events, like the rain after the dry season, should happen there. It seemed better for such a place to become like a desert. A truly terrible event had happened there, and David wanted Israel’s people to remember that fact.

Next part: True heroes: Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:22-24)


Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 1000+ page course book.


© 2023, Keith Simons.