Following the death of Saul & Jonathan on Mt. Gilboa at the hands of the Philistines, David composes a lament in their honor. The song he wrote in II Samuel 1:17-27 is instructive to us in several ways:
— First, it is of interest that the familiar phrase “how have the mighty fallen” originates here. (In fact, it is used three times in this song (:19, :25, :27). If David’s song were given a title, surely it would have been, “How Have The Mighty Fallen.”)
— But beyond that, notice the grace and civility that David demonstrated to Saul, one who had unjustly oppressed him.
True, he had a great love for his friend Jonathan (:26), but his father Saul persecuted him mercilessly — and unjustly. And yet David composed this song in Saul’s honor, chanted it himself (:17) and taught it to the sons of Judah (:18)
— In the song, David expressed gratitude and appreciation for the good things which Saul had accomplished for the nation: in :24 he sings of Saul as one “who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet” — a reference to the victories in battle, the prosperity and blessings, that Saul’s reign had brought Israel.
— Significantly, noticeable by its ABSENCE is any reference to the shortcomings of Saul (which were MANY!). Instead David was very gracious, and mentioned only his better qualities, and the blessings that came to the nation through him.
In a world which is too often marked by the total excoriation of all opponents, David in II Samuel 1 gives us a good lesson in civility and grace — even towards our enemies!