2 Samuel 1 – Enemy – Love!

Enemy – Love!


2 Samuel 1




ILLUS.: Imagine in business – you are young and you are reasonably successful. Because of your popularity and success some older and more powerful person – a person who you respect and have a close relationship with – becomes jealous and feels threatened although as far as you know you have done nothing that should cause him/ her to feel that way. The result: pressure is brought to bear – the business rug is pulled out from under your feet – you suffer tremendous loss financially, your family suffers and for 10 years you are in the economic wilderness but you know that if that person was out the way you would be able to recover and be successful again.

Then one Day the news reaches you that this person has died …. What is your reaction?


The normal human response would no doubt be one of relief, pleasure, satisfaction (he/she got his/her just-desserts).

We naturally like to see those who have made our lives miserable or difficult in some way  get a taste of their own medicine.


ILLUS.: May be at school you were bullied – then the bully got sorted out by someone and you cheered them on.

If I am honest I would be on the cheering side.


David was in a much worse position than any of us have ever been in – Not only did he loose everything he had but he was then pursued by King Saul who want to kill him. For about 10 years David was on the run for his life!

The comes the news that King Saul is dead – not only is David’s enemy Dead BUT the way is now open for David to become King. We would expect him to be over-joyed or at least a little pleased.

BUT first he has the bearer of the news killed and then he laments Saul’s death and instructs his men and the nation to do the same!! What an extra-ordinary response to the death of a bitter enemy.


Why did David have the Amalekite, who brought the news of Saul’s death, killed?






What do we make of David’s response to the messenger who brought the news of Saul’s death?

The Amalekite’s story is different to the account given in 1 Sam.31. –

After David and his followers had mourned and fasted for Saul and Jonathan- David questions the Amalekite messenger.

He asks two questions … 2 Samuel 1:13-14

13 David said to the young man who brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite,” he answered.

14 David asked him, “Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” (NIV)


  • Where are you from?

His answer -“I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite,” – an alien was a foreign resident in the nation and had certain privileges – he might even have been a believer. Whether this is true or a cover up we will never know BUT if it is true he MUST have known about Israelite religion and society — esp. the status and role of the king as the Lord’s anointed. The office of the King of Israel was held in very high honour by the people of Israel. If he was a resident alien as he claimed to be he must have known that!!


  • Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?

The Amalekite messenger was without excuse – it was not enough to plead that Saul requested it, or that it was euthanasia — still less could he admit to murdering Saul to help David onto the throne.

This man was an opportunist – he claimed to kill Saul [which was a lie but unknown to David at the time] so out of his own mouth he condemned himself for murder and treason.

By killing the king he had usurped the prerogative of God himself; something which David himself had refused to do.



                   – equivalent of “Candle in the Wind!”.


We are not unfamiliar with the picture of national mourning. The images of  Kensington gardens carpeted with flowers in the wake of the death of Princess Diana are still fresh in our minds.  The route of the funeral cortege lined with 1000’s of people standing in silent tribute.


How does David respond to Saul’s death – and Jonathan’s.

We have this wonderful song of Lament to Saul and Jonathan..

It is not surprising that we have a beautiful statement about Jonathan. He was David’s best friend. He was deeply grieved at the loss of his friend.

2 Samuel 1:25-26

25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle!

Jonathan lies slain on your heights.

26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;

you were very dear to me.

Your love for me was wonderful,

more wonderful than that of women. (NIV)


David’s love for Jonathan is not indicative of a homosexual relationship as some modern defenders of that practice like to imagine. This is an expression of covenant brotherhood, and masculine affection without any sexual overtones whatever.

Keddie “David speaks here of the camaraderie of youth and war, of the brotherhood of adventure and the risk of death, of the confidence of men in each other when their lives depend on the faithfulness and courage of the other.”


What is surprising is David’s response to the death of Saul. We might expect him to be pleased – after all Saul had made David’s life pretty miserable for a whole decade – in fact he had tried to kill him. As long as Saul was alive David would not be king.


But all the tough years in the wilderness – on the run – living in caves – have taught David something. Rather God has taught David something. David had learned to view Saul, not as the deranged maniac who want to kill him BUT rather to see him as God’s anointed. In spite of Saul’s ill-treatment of David, he loved Saul, so when he hears of Saul’s death he is in great anguish of heart and laments.


It is right and proper to lament in the face of death. This is what David did.

Death and loss and disappointment are part of life and when we try to push it to one side, not think about it, soft-pedal it … we deprive ourselves of an essential part of life.

Is it not interesting that 70% of the Psalms are laments? Is it any wonder that when we are going through tough times we so often find comfort in the Psalms? WHY? Because here is someone who is expressing what we feel. Most of these are written by David – “The man after God’s own Heart!”


David did not have a stiff upper lip – he had a soft heart and he knew how to cry.

It is so contrary to the culture in which we live …



Listen to Eugene Peterson

.. this is good …

We have a style of print and television journalism that reports disaster endlessly and scrupulously: crime and war, famine and flood, political malfeasance [depravity] and societal scandal. The one virtually foolproof way for getting noticed in our culture is to do something bad. The worse the act, the higher the profile. In the wake of whatever has gone wrong or whatever wrong has been done, commentators gossip, reporters interview, editors pontificate, Pharisees moralize; then psychological analyses are conducted, political reforms initiated, and academic studies funded. But there is not one line of lament.”


David lamented because he choose to view Saul from a divine perspective





Divine perspective.

NB how David in this chapter [in previous chapters] refers to Saul as the “Lord’s anointed” – This is the key to David loving the one who was his enemy.

And this is the Key for us – How are we to love those who are unlovely, difficult, a pain-in-the-neck, who go out of their way to make life miserable for us – how are we to love them. The first step, like David, is to see them as God sees them.


The foundation upon which David based this attitude was his love for God. The foundation upon which we can built love for friends and enemies is a love for God.

David had a heart for God – he loved the Lord beyond all else!

The love we are talking about here is not “long-stemmed roses, candle-lit dinners and boxes of chocolate”. – as wonderful as such things are – these romantic / sentimental things are good but NOT a foundation for the kind of Love God requires.


Our memory verse at the moment is … Mark 12:30 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (NIV) [cf.Dt.6:5 MIGHT = mind+strength]


THE HEART – to Jewish thinking the heart is the centre of the being – the part that knows. To us heart is the emotions NOT so in Jewish thought.

So truth and heart are closely connected.

We cannot love God as we should unless we know the truth about him.

The truth about God is not what people think God is like  – that is why there are so many misconceptions about God ….

ILLUS.: Someone may say “I don’t believe in God”  Ask “Tell me about this God you don’t believe in!”  RESPONSE “I don’t believe in that kind of God either!”


The reason people don’t know the truth about God is because they don’t expose themselves to God’s revelation in Scripture and ultimately through Jesus Christ whom scripture reveals.

BUT we can only love God with all our hearts  when there is obedience and worship.

We can only worship God to the extent that we know Him – the truth about him – if our concept of God is false our worship will be false – SO having a heart for God is having a desire to know the truth about him AND to know him as he really is — and then bowing to him as Lord over all in obedience and worship.


THE SOUL – the soul is the centre of the will – it is wanting / desiring the Lord … as the Psalmist …

Psalm 116:12 12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? (KJV)

Psalm 116:12    12 How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? (NIV)


With the HEART I know the truth of God

With the SOUL I desire to please and thank him.

A desire to know him completely and to bring all that I have and am under his Lordship / control.


As expressed in another Psalm 86:4 …..for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. (NIV)


OUR MIGHT – speaks of action. “We discern who he is, we desire to respond and then will our might we do whit is his will.” [Briscoe]

Our obedience to his commands is the core / essence of our showing that we love him.

John 14:15        15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. (NIV)

More than just trusting him for salvation ~ it is life-long obedience …

Psalm 116:2      ……..        I will call on him as long as I live. (NIV)


He calls us to love Him “with heart, soul and might” …….

1 John 4:19       19 We love because he first loved us. (NIV)


Jesus asks us the same question he asked Simon Peter after his resurrection …

John 21:16        …. Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

Forget everything else for that moment … “Do you really love Jesus Christ?”

If you do tell him so and commit yourself to him “heart soul and might”



The extent to which we love God with all our heart soul and might will be the extent to which are able to love the unlovely / and our enemies, like David was able to love Saul. Because David had a heart for God.


From a human point of view David should have hated Saul and been delighted at his death – BUT he wasn’t because he love God with all his heart and he had a divine perspective on the situation.

David understood what Jesus would later say in .. Matthew 5:43-44

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (NIV)



NB – Jesus often said “You have heard it said….” or “It is written …” .

“It is written …” refers to OT scripture….

“You have heard it said….” – refers to the oral teaching / traditions –

The popular teaching by the rabbis was “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy”  BUT that is not what God said – David knew that!!


BUT Jesus statement is unambiguous “Love your enemies!” This is one of the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities for Christian disciples — If Christian don’t love their enemies who on earth will??


What does David teach us about enemy love??


ENEMY LOVE – [love for your enemy]

** refuses to take advantage. – Remember the time David could have killed Saul and he refused … 1 Samuel 26:9       9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? (NIV)

David understood the Lord’s instructions in Deuteronomy 32:35

35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay……

Is there someone who has hurt you and you would just love to “get even” – God calls us to a different approach!!


** respects the enemy’s dignity.

When David heard what the Philistines had done to Saul – beheaded him and nailed his body to the wall of Beth Sahn and then how the brave men of Jabesh had rescued the bodies of Saul and his sons – David commended them for their bravery – He had respect for the dignity of Saul.

Are there those we would love to see shamed of degraded in some way??


** regrets the enemy’s downfall.

2 Samuel 1:19   19 “Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen! (NIV)


Look how David refers to Saul the mighty – Your glory, O Israel [the beauty of Israel].

There is something about human nature – when we have been knocked down we love to see that enemy fall… “At last they got what was coming to them!!”

1 Corinthians 13:5-6 5 [LOVE] …. keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil …..


** avoids triumphalism.

2 Samuel 1:20

20 “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice. (NIV)


David didn’t have an army of spin-doctors ready to pounce on and exploit every weakness and failure of his opponents!! He put down a news blackout! He was not going to trumpet the fall of his enemy to satisfy the tabloid readers of his day!!


** recounts the enemy’s strengths.

2 Samuel 1:22

22 From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied. (NIV)


David could have said many negative, but true, things about Saul. Instead he choose to focus on his strengths – his courage, / skill as a warrior and military strategist!

It is easy to criticise and cut down BUT enemy-love, as hard as it is, does the exact opposite. It capitalizes on the strengths and gives credit where it is due.



** restrains criticism.

2 Samuel 1:23

23 “Saul and Jonathan — in life they were loved and gracious,

and in death they were not parted.

They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. (NIV)

Saul and Jonathan had their problems in the father/son relationship BUT David choose to draw and veil over them and to forgo criticism — it wasn’t necessary!!


** reveres the enemy’s well-being.

2 Samuel 1:24

24 “O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,

who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold. (NIV)

What was left of Saul? – an urn of charred ashes. …. and his memory!  So David asks the people to remember with gratitude the things they can remember with gratitude. He wants whatever is left of his enemy to be revered!!


JESUS … Matthew 5:43-44

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (NIV)

God himself did … Romans 5:8 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)

Jesus did it … “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

David did it  … “How the mighty have fallen!”


And us … we are called to be like Christ.

Think about the one who has harmed you / disgraced you / cut you down /  abused you ///

Jesus calls us to love / forgive such people — not to wait for nice warm feelings towards them and then act BUT in faith and in dependence on him to act towards them in love ..


ILLUS.: From the Life of Corrie Ten BoomThe Hiding Place” {last two pages} –  when after the war she meets the SS guard from Ravensbruck – the first of her captor she met since her time in the Nazi concentration camp.

As Christians we have an incredible opportunity to show the love of Christ – to live christianly before God and others.


Take my life and let it be

all you purpose, lord, for me.

Take my motives and my will,

all your purpose to fulfill;

take my heart – it is your own,

it shall be your royal throne.



Take my love – my Lord, I pour

at your feet its treasure store…




2 Samuel 1: 1 – 27



      – Two questions …

            “Where are you from?”

            “Why are you not afraid lift your hand

               to destroy the Lord’s anointed?”

                  … condemned from his own mouth



      – for Jonathan his best friend

      – for Saul his worst enemy



     – Divine Perspective:

            – heart – discern God’s truth

            – mind – desire to please / thank God

           – might – do what is God’s will


      – Enemy-Love:

            – refuses to take advantage

            – respects the enemy’s dignity

            – regrets the enemy’s downfall

            – avoids triumphalism

            – recounts the enemy’s strengths

            – restrains criticism

            – reveres the enemy’s well-being


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