Love, Loss, Lamentation
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Love, Loss, Lamentation

2 Samuel 1:22–27  (ID: 3455)

David’s lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan invited Israel to feel their grief and provided direction for their sorrow. As Alistair Begg explains, David buried Saul’s past offenses, choosing instead to focus on the good that had been lost. His poem highlighted the bravery Saul and Jonathan displayed, the unity they enjoyed, and the prosperity Saul created. At the same time, his deep anguish over Jonathan’s death points us to Jesus as the friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 5

The King and the Holy City 2 Samuel 1:1–6:23 Series ID: 109015

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to turn with me to 2 Samuel and to chapter 1, and we’ll read once again from the seventeenth verse to the end of the chapter. Two Samuel 1 and reading from verse 17:

“And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; [and] behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:

“‘Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
 How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
 publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
 lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.

“‘You mountains of Gilboa,
 let there be no dew or rain upon you,
 nor fields of offerings!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
 the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

“‘From the blood of the slain,
 from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
 and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

“‘Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
 In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles;
 they were stronger than lions.

“‘You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
 who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
 who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

“‘How the mighty have fallen
 in the midst of the battle!

“‘Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
 your love to me was extraordinary,
 surpassing the love of women.

“‘How the mighty have fallen,
 and the weapons of war perished!’”

And this is the Word of God.

Father, we pray that as we turn now to the Bible, the Spirit of God will illumine the page, as it were, to us, enable us to think clearly and to respond in accordance with your gracious moving within us and among us. For we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Well, those of us who have been reading and thinking are beginning to get a very clear picture, I think, of what is going on here: that the Amalekite—this young man who brought the news, as he reported it, of the battle—was able to tell David quite honestly that it was a disaster, it was a tragedy, that the people had fled, many were dead, and most importantly, Saul and Jonathan his son were also dead. We noted that the young man, in reporting it in this way, fully expected a celebration. His anticipation seemed to be that David would immediately exult in this news, because after all, it was opening up the door finally for David to be enthroned publicly and finally as king—when in point of fact, instead of celebration, he met with execution.[1] And that execution then, as we began to see last time, was followed by David’s lamentation: “And David lamented with this lamentation.”

And we noted that while it was deeply personal, it was not private, but it provided Judah, ultimately Israel, with a mechanism for their own public grief. The king—that is, Saul—and the prince have died. And something absolutely decisive has taken place. It has changed things in such a way that they will never, ever be the same again. And as we said last time, clearly the reason David wanted it written down was in order that it would be remembered. And we said that one of the distinguishing features of a Christian and Jewish way of viewing history is the very importance of remembering. And we said that it was important because it was history. And if you were paying attention—which limits the number somewhat, I understand—but you will perhaps recall that I mentioned the fact that history, in terms of an objective, verifiable source of material, is increasingly repudiated in our day. And we paused for a moment and said it is vitally important that we realize that history is, in the terms of Scripture here, given as reported.

A Word about Poetry

Now, having said that, and at the risk of appearing to contradict myself, I want to acknowledge the fact that the history, now, has been written down not in prose, not in a long list, not in a series of dates and times and names, the way in which most boring history books are written out, but in fact, it has been written down as poetry. And it is poetic purposefully. Because by means of poetry, the person who is then reminiscing on the historical event is enabled to pause for a minute and ponder the deep nature, the precious nature, the heartful nature of what has happened.

Now, for those of us who made our way through English literature at high school and perhaps beyond that, we may recall the early days when we were introduced to poetry appreciation. We thought that all you had to say was—in my case, her name was Mrs. Walker—I’d say, “Well, Mrs. Walker, I appreciate this.” And she said, “No, that’s not what we’re talking about here, Begg.” And then it became somewhat difficult, didn’t it? Because all the bright sparks in the class, they seemed to see things that I never even noticed, and they were able to make points out of it that, frankly, I couldn’t grasp. Poetry appreciation was unappreciated by many of us because we failed to appreciate the function which is there to give expression to thoughts and feelings by means of a medium which is far more adequate than prose. That’s a huge, long sentence. In other words, poetry as poetry is purposefully there so that you don’t read it like a grocery list and you don’t respond to it in the same way.

The eloquence of David’s poem invites us to linger in the loss that it conveys and to ponder the need for lamentation in light of the reality of death.

I say all of that and pause on it for this reason: it is difficult to analyze it. It is not easy for me to teach from this poem. I say that not simply to cover myself but to acknowledge that really, the best thing we can do is walk out with this poem and read it and read it and read it until we get actually underneath it; you know what I mean—that it becomes part of us.

In Scottish terminology, things like this appear in the Bible as history, and in Scottish terminology, it is history “telt” that is actually better felt. Okay? History telt, better felt—so that we say to ourselves, “Now, what is happening here? How do you talk to mountains and so on?” Well, those of you who have never read a poem in your life really will have to stretch yourself somewhat remarkably. It’s very hard to unpack. It’s not as straightforward as prose. And I say to you finally that the eloquence of it is there to invite us to linger—to linger in the loss that it conveys and to ponder the need for lamentation in light of the reality of death.

A Word about Mortality

So, a word about poetry, and then just one further word about mortality, which we focused on last time. After our study last time, one of my colleagues alerted me to an article that some of you may have seen in the Washington Post about how COVID-19 confronts us with our mortality. And the article simply said the big issue that we are now facing is the fact that this sense of anxiety, this sense of fearfulness, can be traced directly, the writer suggests, to the fact that people realize, “I am going to die.” Now, social psychologists have terminology for dealing with this, which is referred to as Terror Management Theory. Terror Management Theory. And it goes along these lines: that in order “to function as a conscious [human] being,” they suggest that it is “imperative” for us to constantly deny the fact that we will die—to believe that people die while at the same time convincing ourselves, ridiculously, that somehow we will not die.[2]

Now, one of the key proponents of this is a fellow called Sheldon Solomon, a professor at a college called Skidmore College, with which I was unfamiliar. Throughout the article there are various opinions voiced, and I won’t go any further on it. I am not suggesting you go look for it, although it won’t do you any harm. This guy Sheldon, the professor who’s the genius in this, gives us this as his summary. He says, “Here’s a way to deal with it”: “I am an infinitesimal speck of carbon-based dust born in a time and place not of my choosing here for an incredible brief amount of time before my atoms are scattered back into the cosmos.”[3] His closing sentence is “There should be nothing terrifying about that.”[4]

All right. You’re sensible people. You read your newspapers. You go now to your Bible. You go to the shepherd poet, and you say, “Now, what would David say in response to that?” Well, we need be in no doubt. “My frame,” he writes,

   was not hidden from you
 when I was made in the secret place,
 when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
 all the days ordained for me were written in your book
 before one of them came to be.[5]

You know, when we think about what it means to be in the world and not of the world, we go far too quickly to external notions, to things that can be easily identified and categorized. But the real distinction that exists is in this kind of realm. I live, with you, in a culture that seeks to live constantly in the denial of death, a culture that has increasingly lost all capacity for grief. Because after all, grief is displayed in a loss of control. And if we are going to be “big boys,” then big boys don’t cry. And if we’re going to declare ourselves to be self-sufficient islands, then, of course, we know “a rock [can feel] no pain, and an island never cries.”[6] Paul Simon, 1966. I doubt now, as he touches eighty, whether he is still prepared to affirm such a notion.

Now, this lamentation—you say, “We’re getting there, are we?” We’re right there now. This lamentation… This lamentation at least does this: it invites Israel (that’s why it’s written down)—and us now as readers—it invites Israel to share in this expression of grief, and at the same time, it provides direction for their sorrow. So in other words, “I want this written down,” he says, “so that Israel, so that the people, might know the extent to what has happened here and how sad I am about it, and in order that in turn it might give direction to them, so that they might understand the nature of grief and the nature of sorrow and so on.”

And what the refrain does—and it comes, as you see, three times here: “How the mighty have fallen! How have the mighty fallen!”—it is highlighting the tragedy of their loss. And the whole point of it is the contrast between then and now, the contrast between what was and what is. And the focus of David, as we see, is on the good that has been lost and not on the bad from which he has been saved. I hope that will come out as we look at this. His focus is on the good that has been lost and not on the bad from which he has been saved.

Now, the best I could do with it is this: is give us three nouns and an adjective. All right? I’d like it to be four nouns, but I can’t make it four nouns. So we’ve got three nouns and an adjective, by way of summary.

The Bravery Saul and Jonathan Displayed

Verse 22: bravery. Bravery:

From the blood of the slain,
 from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
 and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

Now, what is he doing? He’s immediately saying to himself, “I’m not gonna focus on that picture on the mountainside about which I’ve just heard.” If the news has now filtered to him of what actually happened to Saul—that he was decapitated and that his body was nailed to a wall in Beth-shan, and that his sons were nailed to the wall as well[7]—“My focus is not now on that reality. Instead, I am choosing to recall the king—namely, Saul—and the prince, Jonathan, as mighty warriors. I’m gonna remember them as mighty warriors. In fact, it makes me sad to think about the occasions when they were so strong and powerful in their impact.”

You say, “Well, this sounds like we’re about to go all the way back through 1 Samuel again.” No, I won’t do that to you. But all you would need is just to flip back through and you would get there yourself. What is this about “the bow of Jonathan turn[ing] not back”? Well, the bow has drawn the enemy’s blood, and “the sword of Saul” has devoured the flesh of the opponents. If this was a video game, in these strange video games, the graphics that children look at, it would become very apparent. The poetry takes on a face, you know: “Look at what is happening here. Mighty, victorious.”

Now, I won’t take you through the history, because you can do it yourself. I’ll just remind you of it, and then you can go find it for yourself. I’m not even going to tell you where it is. You said, “Maybe that’s because you don’t know.” I do know. But you remember the occasion when Jonathan is with his armor-bearer, and they’re gonna go up in between those two crags, and we had a hard time figuring out when they were up, they were up, and when they were down, they were down, where they were coming from; and how the word comes from the people that they’re going to attack, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of their hole!” And then they shouted, “Come on up here! We’ve got a thing or two to show you.” And Jonathan said, “Let’s go up. We’ve got a thing or two to show them!” And his might and his power prevails.[8]

Similarly, we could turn to, for example, 1 Samuel 14 and the summary statement that is given about the kingship of Saul:

When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, … against the Philistines. Wherever he turned he routed them. And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.[9]

And David writes in this lament, and he says, “Oh! Oh, oh, oh! Bravery! These were good guys.”

There’s something bighearted about this David fellow, isn’t there? Because he’s choosing to remember Saul at his best.

You see, there’s something bighearted about this David fellow, isn’t there? Because he’s choosing to remember Saul at his best. Does Saul deserve to be remembered at his best? I don’t think so. There can be no doubt that David will have a vivid picture of Saul’s spear coming at him on more than one occasion—that he would be able to recall the misery of his life as a result of constantly fleeing from the pursuit of Saul, whose express purpose was to kill David. But any relief that he feels with Saul being gone takes a back seat to the pain that accompanies his sense of loss.


The Unity Saul and Jonathan Enjoyed

Verse 23: unity. “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and … death they were not divided.” Now, we could have used “lovely” as our noun—or “beloved,” actually. Or we could have used agility, in terms of the final two lines. But no, unity is really the center of it, isn’t it?

“Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!” But don’t we have some really ugly pictures of Saul—I mean, even in him descending into a sort of deep-seated form of paranoia that was fueled by anger and ugliness and so on? Has David actually forgotten here when Jonathan’s life was under threat from Saul? What are you doing here, David? Are you trying to clean this up for the funeral? “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!” No, he’s telling the truth.

Hadn’t he actually been the occasion of division between Saul and Jonathan? Hadn’t David been the occasion for Jonathan to take David’s side against his father and to speak in defense of David when his father said, “What we’re going to do is go and kill him?”[10] Wasn’t it Jonathan who did what he did? Well, of course, the answer has to be yes to all of that.

But the fact of the matter is, as we saw, Jonathan died at his father’s side. He died at his father’s side. We know that from the end of 1 Samuel. And although there had been disruption in the relationship, which is undeniable—which, actually, it would be true of most father-son relationships throughout any journey of life, but peculiarly so here. There was disruption in their relationship. But he had never betrayed his father, and he had never abandoned his father. And he died at the side of his father.

Now, what is happening here? David is actually burying Saul’s offenses. Because he recognizes him as the one ordained by God to lead his people in this way. And what he’s doing here is forcibly, I think, repressing any incipient desire he has to rehearse the things—legitimate things, things that happened—to rehearse those things that point to the fact that Saul was ignoble.

You see, when we think about relationships in the course of life—and we remember whoever it was who said, you know, “If everybody knew what everybody said about them, there wouldn’t be two friends in the whole world,” some ancient fellow—you think about that, and then you say to yourself, “If we’re going to apply the little framework to things in life, it would be good to apply it also at funeral services: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary?”

Is it true? People say, “Well, I’m only telling this because it’s true. I’m only bringing this out now because it’s true.” True is not the only issue. Certainly there were many things that were true that could have appeared here from David’s pen, out of David’s heart, but he chooses not to do it. He buries these things. Why? Well, because of how he loved the guy who wanted to kill him. It’s hard! He wanted this lament taught so that the nation would never forget that the tragedy on the hillside was a mighty loss. A mighty loss. “How, how the mighty have fallen!”

The Prosperity Saul Created

Bravery. Unity. Thirdly, prosperity. Verse 24: “You daughters of Israel…” We’ve already had the picture of the daughters of the Philistines; earlier in the lamentation, he says, “Oh, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Ashkelon. We don’t want the daughters of the Philistines having street parties out there and declaring the victory of their idols. We don’t want them singing.” But he says, “It’s now time for the daughters of Israel to weep—to weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.”

Now, remember, it’s poetry here. I don’t think we should for a moment imagine that Saul every so often had a bunch of ladies come over to the palace, and he, you know, he gave them outfits and jewelry. No.

Calvin has a wonderful little comment on this. He says, “When there is peace in a country … that is to say, those who work and are good managers of their resources … there will always be people who are dissolute and debauched, and just wasteful consumers.”[11] But, he says, in the economy of things, when—to quote John F. Kennedy, “When the tide rises, all the boats rise.” And as the boats have risen in Israel under his kingship, one of the benefits has been prosperity. And prosperity can be seen in the daughters of Israel.

Now, what are they to do? What is the point here? “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul.” Saul was committed to leading Judah in this way. And what David is pointing out, it seems to me, is simple, and that is that this is no time for a fashion display: “You daughters of Israel, it’s time for you to weep. Party clothes are incongruous now. Yes, you can reflect on the prosperity that you enjoyed when Saul was alive, but guess what? Saul is not alive. The mighty have fallen.”

Brueggemann, the ancient commentator, says, “The well-dressed are to undress, to give liturgic imitation to the denuding of the splendor of Israel.”[12] In other words, a picture within a picture: “Here’s the picture of the benefit that Saul has brought. He’s a brave fellow. He’s united with his son, and he has brought prosperity to the land. And you can testify to that,” he says, “because you just, you go into your closets, and there they are. But,” he’s saying, “this is no time to be putting on those clothes. No, this is time to put on sackcloth and ashes, because the splendor of Israel lies fallen in the midst of the battle.”

The Extraordinary Love of Jonathan

So, from the three nouns to, finally, an adjective: the bravery that they displayed, the unity that they enjoyed, the prosperity he created, and then my adjective is there in the text: “extraordinary”—i.e., the extraordinary love of Jonathan. The extraordinary love of Jonathan.

So far, the way in which the lament has gone, as we’ve seen, David is using apostrophe—not one of those little things, but the other use of apostrophe. In other words, he is addressing people who are not present, or he’s addressing that which is other than human. So, he is addressing the “mountains of Gilboa,” and he is reflecting in various ways. But now it changes: “The mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies [dead].” He lies dead. Remember, we said earlier, when it began “Your glory, O Israel”—“the gazelle, O Israel”—“is slain on your high places!” “And now it seems to me,” he says, “and Jonathan, who is the gazelle, if you like, of Israel, is slain on the places.”

But now he moves to the first person. And he speaks to him, although, clearly, he is not there to hear: “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan.” It’s interesting, because Jonathan all the way through, everywhere, has always been “Jonathan, the son of Saul,” “Saul’s son Jonathan,” “Jonathan the son.” Go and look it up. This is a big change. “I am distressed for you,” not “Saul’s son,” not “Jonathan son of Saul,” but “my brother Jonathan.” “O my dear brother, I am crushed by your death.” That’s what he’s saying: “O my dear brother, I am crushed by your death.”

Now, clearly, this is more than the fact that he was Jonathan’s brother-in-law. Because remember, he was married to Michal, Saul’s daughter. Therefore, he had a relationship through marriage with Jonathan. But it’s something far more significant. There’s a unique bond of friendship that is addressed here. It’s so strong, we’re told, that it “surpass[es] the love of women”—that it is a deeper friendship, a more precious friendship, than that of a wife! Now, think about this. “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”[13]

Now, the magnitude of what is being conveyed here has to be understood, I think, by recognizing that natural affinity, if you like, is only part of what their friendship meant. In other words—you see, you’ve got a lot of good friends, or you have a particular good friend, or a friend, and you say, “He’s a friend because of this—we both went to the same school, we both engaged in the same things, we both enjoy that, we both shared books with one another,” and so on. Is that what it is? Well, it’s surely that, but it’s got to be more than that. It’s got to be more than that.

Well, how would we be able to determine what underlies such an expression of a relationship between David and Jonathan? Well, again, we’d have to go all the way back through 1 Samuel, which we won’t do. But, for example, we know from chapter 18 that they were soulmates.[14] They were soulmates. It wasn’t simply that they enjoyed going hunting together, but there was something at the very core of their existence, at the very heart of their existence, that bound them together.

You’ll remember that Jonathan, who was the rightful heir to the kingship as the successor to Saul, ostensibly renounced his heirship—remember, removing some of his outerwear and giving it as a symbol to David of the fact of his commitment to him.[15] And along with that, on more than one occasion, it says they covenanted together. They covenanted together. On the last occasion that they had a conversation with one another, you will remember that Jonathan says to him, he says, “David, now, my father is going to die. You will be king, and I will be at your right hand side. I’m your man. You know that.”[16] And David knew that. And that was what David looked for. This fellow who had every right to take the kingship has entrusted it to David. This fellow who’s been with him heart and soul, body and soul, in a way that just breaks the bonds of male bonding, is so peculiar.

In fact, in order to get to this, it really is impossible, I think, to use ordinary categories of friendship. Because otherwise, how do you deal with this: “Your love to me was [an] extraordinary [love], surpassing the love of women”? In other words, it was even more important than even the most cherished relationship between a man and a woman.

Well, you don’t have to look very far in the twenty-first century for people to say, “Well, we can explain this perfectly. This was clearly an erotic, homosexual relationship.” That is the view of contemporary liberal scholarship. I say to you that to see in this—in this—an erotic dimension actually says more about the sexualization of our culture than it says about what the text tells us.

Now, if you think about this—and you should think about this—homosexuality was clearly forbidden by the law of God in the book of Leviticus. Clearly forbidden. David’s sin in his adultery with Bathsheba, which is on the horizon, is about to be exposed by the narrator because it violates the commandments and law of God. It’s therefore inconceivable to me that the narrator would not have done the very same thing if there was in this relationship any indication of the fact that the law had been broken in this way.

Gagnon, a commentator, says, “Jonathan’s repeated display of (non-sexual) kindness to David at a time when Jonathan was in a position of power, selflessly risking his own life and certainly his own kingdom,” this display of kindness, “surpassed anything David had ever known [in] a committed erotic relationship with a woman.”[17]

Now, it’d be one thing if David was a single guy, right? And all the rest of us would say, “Well, of course he never knew what it was like.” No, David liked women. If you care, David had a problem with women. David really, really, really liked women. So either he’s lying through his teeth—which he can’t be—or he’s explaining the depth of his loss in the friendship of Jonathan: “O Jonathan, my brother, I am crushed by your death.”

“Write this down,” he says. “This will give Israel an expression to their grief. This will give those who read it a direction to their sorrow.”

Dealing with Love, Loss, and Lamentation

Well, here, “The mighty have fallen,” the refrain ends, “the weapons of war [are] perished!” Well, the weapons of war are scattered all over the place, but perhaps it’s a metaphor—I think probably, a metaphor for Saul and Jonathan. They have gone. So what do we do? What do we say? Well, maybe just a couple of things and we stop.

This lament is more than a lesson in grieving. It’s more than a lesson in grieving. But I suggest to us that it does provide an antidote to many of our superficial attempts at dealing with the loss of our loved ones. Somebody—at least somebody—should cry at a funeral. It is more than that, but it is that.

It points beyond it, as it inevitably does. Solomon will become king. Solomon will write of a friend who sticks closer than a brother.[18] Solomon will write of a friend who loves at all times.[19] Beautiful pictures, things that we hope for in life. If you have one good friend in the world, you’re rich. One good friend in the world, you’re rich! Someone you can tell everything to and they’ll never tell anybody else, that you can confess to them what an idiot you are, what a disaster you’ve been. When they go, that’s a big loss.

And here we live in a culture that in the last two decades has become preoccupied with “being liked.” How many times in a day am I asked on that jolly little device to “like” somebody on Facebook, or to “like” them? I don’t even know them! And if I knew them, I probably wouldn’t like them. And if they knew who it was they were asking to like them, they wouldn’t like me and wouldn’t ask to be liked. So, myriad of acquaintances—and the absence of friendship!

And here in this story, an invitation to discover where real friendship is to be found. Because ultimately, not only does the lament provide a formidable encounter with death, not only does it provide a real expression of loss, not only does it give us an amazing lamentation of love, but it says to us, “How are you gonna deal with love, loss, and lamentation?”

Where is this love to be found? How is this loss to be dealt with? What does a lament really mean? Well, it turns us to Jesus, doesn’t it?

The Bible is always going to send us to Jesus.

Newton’s great hymn, just one verse from it, to end. Newton writes,

One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of friend;
His is love beyond [all others],
Costly, free, and knows no end:
They who once his kindness prove,
Find it everlasting love![20]

There’s a reason why C. T. Studd, remember, gave to his wife that little poem in her morning devotions. He knew that she loved him, but he knew that she wouldn’t always have him. And so he knew that as a husband, it was vital that she would learn to love Jesus more than she loved Charlie—C. T. Studd. And so he gave it to her. “Say this each day,” he said:

“Dear Lord Jesus,
You are to me
Dearer than Charlie
Ever could be!”[21]

You mean greater than my love for that girl that I met when she was thirteen? Yes.

See, that’s what it does always. The Bible is always going to send us to Jesus.

Father, thank you that we can go back and read our Bibles more, we can think. Thank you too that your love, about which we’ve been singing, is an initiative-taking love, and thank you that it finds its focus so clearly, so wonderfully, in your dearly beloved Son, Jesus.

Lord, I pray that for those of us who are fence-sitters in relationship to these things, that by your grace you’ll knock us off on the right side of the fence into the arms of your embrace, so that then we too may, in learning how to deal with our loss and to express our love and to lament, may find ourselves drawn to Jesus, and then to tell others about this same story. For we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

[1] See 2 Samuel 1:1–16.

[2] Emma Pattee, “Covid-19 Makes Us Think about Our Mortality. Our Brains Aren’t Designed for That,” Washington Post, October 7, 2020,

[3] Sheldon Solomon, quoted in Pattee, “Covid-19.”

[4] Solomon. Paraphrased.

[5] Psalm 139:15–16 (NIV).

[6] Paul Simon, “I Am a Rock” (1966).

[7] See 1 Samuel 31:10, 12.

[8] See 1 Samuel 14:1–15.

[9] 1 Samuel 14:47–48 (ESV).

[10] See 1 Samuel 19:1–6.

[11] John Calvin, “Calmness in All Circumstances,” in Sermons on 2 Samuel: Chapters 1–13, trans. Douglas Kelly (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1992), 39.

[12] Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox, 2012), 216.

[13] Proverbs 18:22 (NIV).

[14] See 1 Samuel 18:1, 3.

[15] See 1 Samuel 18:4.

[16] 1 Samuel 23:17 (paraphrased).

[17] Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 152–53, quoted in John Woodhouse, 1 Samuel: Looking for a Leader, Preaching the Word, ed. R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 604.

[18] See Proverbs 18:24.

[19] See Proverbs 17:17.

[20] John Newton, “One There Is, above All Others” (1779).

[21] C. T. Studd, quoted in Norman Grubb, C. T. Studd: Athlete and Pioneer (1933; repr., Harrisburg, PA: Evangelical Press, 1943), 91. Paraphrased.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.