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therefore, burned ; and the inhabitants of JabeshGilead, after burying the bones and ashes under a tree, kept a solemn fast for seven days, in testimony of their respect for the deceased.
One short and striking epitaph, as it were, is left on the pages of inspiration, to teach us the reason why Saul fell under the displeasure of God, and came to such an untimely and humiliating end. Let it serve to remind us, that the divine justice is inflexible, and will, sooner or later inevitably overtake those who persist, hardened and impenitent, in the ways of sin.
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord : therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David, the son of Jesse.
David's funeral song for Saul and Jonathan. He goes to
On the third day after David's victorious return to Ziklag, and while he must have felt very anxious to learn the fate of the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, a stranger ar. rived, " with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head,” as tokens of grief at some great calamity, who prostrated himself before David, when brought into his presence, in the most respect ful obeisance. On being asked whence he came, he replied that he had escaped from the camp of Saul.
"How went the matter ?” asked David, "I pray thee, tell me.”
" The people are fled from the battle,” was the answer,
many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.”
"How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead ?" inquired David with great solicitude.
In reply, the young man said that he happened by chance to be upon Mount Gilboa, and · saw Saul leaning upon his spear, while the cha
riots and horsemen of the enemy followed hard after him; that Saul looked behind, and called to him; and that on being asked who he was, he answered that he was an Amalekite. He added, that Saul then begged him to slay him, being in great anguish ; because his life was yet whole in him, (though he was grievously, and as he probably thought, mortally wounded by the archers.)
"So I stood upon him," continued the young man, "and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.”
The sight of these ensigns of royalty, combined with the circumstantial, and apparently true account of the Amalekite, seemed to remove all doubts with regard to the death of the king and of Jonathan. In the overwhelming agony of grief, David rent his clothes, (for such was the custom,) as did, also, those who were with him, their garments. The lamentation was deep and general. "They mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel ; because they were fallen by. the sword.”
In the midst of his sorrow, David felt that he had an imperious duty to perform. As the king
elect of the nation, he considered himself bound to punish the individual with death who avowed that he had taken the life of the late sovereign. This was a crime of the deepest dye, although he was requested, as he declared, by Saul himself to do it. Besides, David abhorred the thought of being exposed to the imputation which his enemies might bring against him, of being accessary to this crime, or of even conniving at it.
" Whence art thou ?” said he to the young man, who was again brought before him.”
"I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite," was the reply.
How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand, to destroy the Lord's anointed ?” exclaimed David, and, immediately calling one of his young men, ordered him to put the Amalekite to death on the spot. It was done ; while David added, " Thy blood be upon thy head ; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's anointed.”
Undoubtedly this young man hoped to ingra tiate himself with David by the intelligence which he brought; and, still more by the false account which he gave of having himself taken the life of Saul, so as thus to put it beyond all doubt that the king was dead. The crown and the bracelet, too, which he either took on the field of battle from the body of Saul, or procured in some other way, he thought would be very acceptable to David; and, without question, he was expect ing for this, and for all that he had done, some valuable compensation, or gift, in return. His disappointment and summary punishment afford another striking proof how the providence of God can, in the natural course of events, inflict retributive justice upon the guilty.
David, at this time, poured forth his sorrow at the death of Saul and Jonathan in a poetical strain of lamentation, which stands unrivalled among compositions of a similar kind in any language. Just before its introduction in the sacred narrative, it is said, "he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.” Some suppose that this refers to David's causing the use of the bow to be introduced among his people, when he became king, with which they had before been unacquainted; as the Philistines did such execution with it at the battle in which Saul and his sons were slain. Others think, and perhaps with better reason, that the word bow is employed merely as the title of the song, or lamentation, and in memory of the slaughter made by the archers of the Philistines, or because David refers in it to the bow of Jonathan; and that he directed this song, called " The Bow," to be taught to the people of Judah and sung by them, as one of their national sacred songs through succeeding generations. The book of