2 Samuel 1

2 Samuel Chapter 1

        • As mentioned in the Introduction to 1 and 2 Samuel, NET Bible’s notes reminds us, “This chapter is closely linked to 1 Sam 31. It should be kept in mind that 1 and 2 Samuel were originally a single book, not separate volumes. Whereas in English Bible tradition the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah are each regarded as two separate books, this was not the practice in ancient Hebrew tradition. Early canonical records, for example, counted them as single books respectively. The division into two books goes back to the Greek translation of the OT and was probably initiated because of the cumbersome length of copies due to the Greek practice (unlike that of Hebrew) of writing vowels. The present division into two books can be a little misleading in terms of perceiving the progression of the argument of the book; in some ways it is preferable to treat the books of 1-2 Samuel in a unified fashion.”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible provides context, “The forty years of Saul’s reign came to a painful end. The Philistines inflicted a crushing blow on Saul’s people, killing his sons and dismembering Saul’s body…On the heels of these tragedies, David’s career as leader came into focus.”

Introduction: The Close of Saul’s Era (1:1-27)

The Report of Saul’s Death

    • After Saul’s death, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag for two days. On the third day, a man from Saul’s camp arrived with torn clothes and dirt on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay homage.

      • ESV Study Bible writes, “Verse 1 follows the events of 1 Samuel 30; in 2 Sam 1:2 an Amalekite man (cf. v. 8) arrives to report the events of 1 Samuel 31. Saul probably died at about the same time David returned to Ziklag, since the Amalekite arrived on the third day after David’s return. The torn clothes and dirt are signs of mourning…”

    • David asked him, “Where have you come from?” And he replied, “I escaped from the Israelite camp.” David said, “What happened? Tell me.” He answered, “The men fled from the battle. Many fell and died, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” Then David asked the young man who had brought the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” The young man answered, “By chance, I happened to be on Mount Gilboa and I saw Saul leaning on his spear. At the same time, the chariots and horsemen were closing in on him. When he turned around, he saw me, and called out to me. I answered, ‘I’m here.’ He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ and I told him, ‘I’m an Amalekite.’ He said, ‘Stand over me and finish me off. I’m very dizzy even though I’m still alive.’ So I stood over him and killed him because I knew he was too badly wounded to survive. Then I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”

      • The Hebrew text here is difficult in places resulting in some variation in translation. NET Bible’s text critical notes provides some clarity:

        • Regarding Saul’s statement in verse 9 which I’ve rendered above as “finish me off,” in alignment with NET Bible, “As P. K. McCarter (II Samuel [AB], 59) points out, the Polel of the verb (mut, ‘to die’) ‘refers to dispatching or “finishing off” someone already wounded and near death.’ Cf. NLT ‘put me out of my misery.’”

      • Regarding the latter portion of verse 9 (rendered above as “I’ve very dizzy”), which has significant variation among translations, “On the meaning of the Hebrew noun translated ‘dizziness,’ see P. K. McCarter, II Samuel (AB), 59-60. The point seems to be that he is unable to kill himself because he is weak and disoriented.”

      • With respect to the young man’s statement at the beginning of verse 10 on Saul’s state, “Heb ‘after his falling’; NAB ‘could not survive his wound’; CEV ‘was too badly wounded to live much longer.’”

    • Some skeptics allege that the Bible gives contradictory accounts of Saul’s death (this one versus the one presented in 1 Sam 31:3-5). However, ESV Study Bible explains, “The narrator (whom readers should believe) in 1 Samuel 31 says that Saul killed himself. Having already read that, readers know that this man in lying to gain favor with the person who was most likely to replace Saul as king. Saul had destroyed most of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15), but since this man was the son of a sojourner (2 Sam 1:13), his presence in Israel is no surprise.”

      • The ESV Archaeology Study Bible includes this interesting information, “…The term translated ‘crown’ (Hb nezer) can also refer to a tiara or ornamental headband. The latter, frequently worn by Assyrian kings, is depicted in the relief on this page from the palace courtyard of Sargon II (r. 822-705 BC) at Dur Sharrukin (Khorsabad)…In the relief…Sargon II wears bracelets as well as bands above both elbows.”

    • Then David and all the men with him each grabbed their own clothes and tore them. They mourned, wept, and fasted until evening for Saul, his son Jonathan, Yahweh’s army, and the house of Israel because they had fallen by the sword.

    • David asked the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?” And he replied, “I am an Amalekite- the son of a resident foreigner.” David said, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to kill Yahweh’s anointed?” Then David called one of the young men and said, “Come here and execute him.” So the young man executed him. David had told the Amalekite, “Your blood be on your own head because your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I have killed Yahweh’s anointed.’”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The Amalekite expected a reward for killing David’s rival but was instead condemned for killing the Lord’s anointed. David himself had twice refused the opportunity to kill Saul…”

      • NET Bible’s text critical notes gives us some insight into the identity of the Amalekite:

        • Hebrew has more than one word for foreigners. Since the Amalekites were obviously not Israelites and were ‘inhabitants of the land’ (1 Sam 27:8), adding the description ger…must carry more significance than just ‘foreigner’ and ‘resident.’ In Mosaic Law the ger…could join the covenant, be circumcised, offer sacrifices to the Lord, celebrate the festivals with Israel, were given equal protection under the law, and received some social welfare along with the Levites. (See notes at Exod 12:19 and Deut 29:11.) These ger…appear to be converts or naturalized citizens with minimally different rights (they could not own land, just houses). The young man is probably positioning himself as someone loyal to Israel, consistent the description that he came from the camp of Saul/Israel (vss 2-3). He certainly would not want to be considered one of the Amalekites that David had just fought against (vs 1). This may also explain David’s expectation that he should know better than to slay the Lord’s anointed (as Saul’s armor-bearer would not do in the true account in 1 Sam 31:4).”

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “David believed the Amalekite’s story…and on that basis had him put to death…’Your blood be on your head’ means the Amalekite (not David) is responsible for his own death…”

David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan

      • Then David sang the following lament for Saul and his son Jonathan, and he gave the instructions that the people of Judah should be taught “The Song of the Bow.” It is written in the Book of Jashar:

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes mention the following translation difficulty, “Heb ‘be taught the bow.’ The reference to ‘the bow’ is very difficult here. Some interpreters (e.g., S. R. Driver, P. K. McCarter, Jr.) suggest deleting the word from the text (cf. NAB, TEV), but there does not seem to be sufficient evidence for doing so. Others (cf. KJV) understand the reference to be elliptical, meaning ‘the use of the bow.’ The verse would then imply that with the deaths of Saul and Jonathan having occurred, a period of trying warfare is about to begin, requiring adequate preparation for war on the part of the younger generation. Various other views may also be found in the secondary literature. However, it seems best to understand the word here to be a reference to the name of a song (i.e., ‘The Bow’), most likely the poem that follows in vv. 19-27 (cf. ASV, NASB, NRSV, CEV, NLT); NIV ‘this lament of the bow.’”

        • On the Book of Jashar, the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “Appears to have been a book of early Israelite poetry, now lost. In addition to the present passage, it is mentioned in Jos 10:12-13 in the account of Joshua’s exceptional day in defense of the Gibeonites. The name is generally assumed to derive from the Hebrew word meaning ‘upright, just, righteous,’ and the like, suggesting the Book of Jashar may have celebrated the exploits of heroic individuals in Israel or of the Israelites as a whole, as the Lord’s ‘upright’ people. Alternatively, the name may reflect the Hebrew word for ‘song,’ yielding simply the ‘Book of Song.’”

        • Some readers may be aware that there is a book extant today that is claimed to be the Book of Jashar. Is it the same as this Book of Jashar? Dr. Michael Heiser answers this question is his short video titled, “The Book of Jasher- Is It Genuine?

      • Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!

      • Don’t report it in Gath, don’t announce it in the streets of Ashkelon, or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate.

      • O Mountains of Gilboa, may there be no dew or rain on you, nor fields of grain offerings. For it was there that the shield of the mighty was defiled, Saul’s shield will no longer be anointed with oil.

      • Jonathan’s bow never retreated, Saul’s sword never returned unsatisfied, from the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty.

      • Saul and Jonathan- beloved and dear. They were not separated in life or in death. They were swifter than eagles; stronger than lions.

      • O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who adorned your garments with gold ornaments.

      • How the mighty have fallen in the midst of battle! Jonathan lies slain on your high places.

      • I grieve over you, my brother Jonathan. You were greatly beloved by me. Your love for me was more wonderful than the love of women.

      • How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished.

        • ESV Study Bible writes:

        • David’s lament is a profound expression of public and personal grief…Though grievously wronged by Saul, David nonetheless chose to remember Saul in a generous way, setting an example of graciously emphasizing the good that someone has done after that person dies. The recurring theme of how the mighty have fallen (vv 19, 25, 27) provides the structure for David’s lament, which exhorts Israel to first mourn Saul (v. 23) and then to mourn my brother Jonathan (v. 26), then closes with the repetition of the haunting refrain, ‘How the mighty have fallen’ (v. 27).”

        • Gath and Ashkelon are Philistine cities. David cannot bear to think about the Philistine victory celebrations…”

        • On, “let there be no dew or rain…nor field of offerings”, “David wishes for lack of blessing on the place where Saul and Jonathan died.”

        • The line the shield of the mighty was defiled is paralleled by the next line the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil (i.e., ‘not in the proper condition,’ since leather shields were treated with oil).”

      • On “they were not separated in life or in death,” NLT Illustrated notes, “Although the relationship between Saul and Jonathan was strained, especially due to Saul’s treatment of David…Jonathan nevertheless fought and died alongside his father while defending Israel against the Philistine menace.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible says, “Some modern readers, unaware or neglectful of the Biblical and ancient Near Eastern background to such expressions of love, have tried to read a homosexual nuance into David’s words. However, ‘love language’ was often used to express loyalty in legal contexts, where the legal (and not sexual) connotations of words such as ‘dear’ and ‘beloved’ is evident…Commentators have perhaps been led astray by David’s extolling of Jonathan’s love as ‘more wonderful than that of women,’ but David’s intent may simply have been to underscore the remarkably selfless character of Jonathan’s loyalty to David and willingness to defer to him with regard to the kingship (1 Sa 18:3-4).”

        • On that same topic, ESV Archaeology Study Bible adds, “When understood in context, it is clear that David’s description of Jonathan’s extraordinary love as ‘surpassing the love of women’…refers not to sexual relationship but to deep, committed friendship defined by self-sacrifice, trust, and covenant faithfulness, the bond of which was perhaps even stronger than what David had experienced with his own wife, Michal (cf. 2 Sam 6:20-23).”

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