2 Samuel 1:17-27 (Part 1) – David, Dr. King, and Jesus: The Case for Love Not Hate

Posted: May 4, 2018 in Book of 2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 1:17-27 (Part 1 of 2)
David’s Song for Saul and Jonathan

Love you enemies. Lay down your life for those who hate and despise you. For all those that still despise him still and point to his moral failures as a man, there is no modern day man that I think epitomizes the ideal of loving those who hate as Martin Luther King, Jr. And, yes, there are those who are disappointed in how the victories for the oppressed have turned into a sense of entitlement among some of those he was trying to help as we continue to walk into the 21st century. And, yes, some have made it today as though we can no longer have real honest discussions about race relations for fear of being labeling racist if you push back against the ideals held dear by those he tried to help. There’s no denying in this age of polarization of ideals that the pace of social change is in some cases being ramrodded down our throats without discussion or glacially slow in others. Dr. King would be saddened by the lack of compromise for the purpose of progress in today’s world of political correctness where we are so afraid to speak out without causing a firestorm of bad press. Lost is the art of winning one battle and then the next that Dr. King lived out.

However, even with his failings as a man, I love the preacher in Dr. King. I love how he used the universal truths about love, life and liberty that come from God’s Word to change the world. I love the fact that he espoused loving your enemies. I loved his sermon/speeches. The man could preach. And he backed up his speeches with action. He was willing to love his enemies in the face of repeated hatred. He was willing to love his enemies in the face of repeated violence against himself and against those who had aligned themselves in the fight for basic civil rights of blacks in the South and for all those who were similarly oppressed. He was willing to sit down and have discussions with those who hated him. He sought social justice when everybody wished he would just leave it alone cause it was too hard. He spoke beautifully, eloquently, and logically about the wrongs against the oppressed in the South. No one could argue the logic and rightness of his cause. He was a preacher first and foremost. He loved God’s Word. His sermons and his writings are an amazing testament to a man, who like David had his moral failures, but a man who sought after God’s heart. When people pushed and pushed him to react with violence to the violence perpetrated against blacks demonstrating for their rights in the South. He reacted with non-violence. He often walked his people into situations where they all knew violence would be received to point out that his was an objective of love. He simply wanted America to live out the biblical ideals upon which it was supposedly founded. There were those such as Malcolm X and the Black Panther Movement that agreed with Dr. King’s movement but disagreed with the methods. They wanted violence for violence. However, these valid movements never advanced the cause of oppressed Southern blacks as much as Dr. King’s movement did. And oh how I can sit and listen to Dr. King’s speeches and sermons. Quite the preacher he was. His words can take you places and inspire you. There is no better speech that he gave than the March on Washington Speech. I never tire of the passage of that speech where he says:

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother-hood.

Oh man. That section of the speech gives me chills every time I read it or every time I see the black & white video from back in August 1963 of Dr. King uttering these words for the first time. This is the ideal. To love your enemies in the face of hatred such that one day they can through love no longer hate you. This is what Dr. King fought for. Love changes things. Not hate. Non-violence conquers violence. Violence only begets violence. Love is what changes things. Love wins.

That ideal of Dr. King. That which he was willing to die for – loving your enemies – and did is what I thought of this morning as I read this beautiful song of honor by David in 2 Samuel 1:17-27. What can inspire us more than David’s words here or Dr. King’s words above. Love wins. Hate loses. Now, let us read through this passage today (for the first of two blogs on this passage):

17 Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, 18 and he commanded that it be taught to the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar.[a]

19
Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills!
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen!
20
Don’t announce the news in Gath,
don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon,
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice
and the pagans will laugh in triumph.

21
O mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor fruitful fields producing offerings of grain.[b]
For there the shield of the mighty heroes was defiled;
the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil.
22
The bow of Jonathan was powerful,
and the sword of Saul did its mighty work.
They shed the blood of their enemies
and pierced the bodies of mighty heroes.

23
How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan!
They were together in life and in death.
They were swifter than eagles,
stronger than lions.
24
O women of Israel, weep for Saul,
for he dressed you in luxurious scarlet clothing,
in garments decorated with gold.

25
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead on the hills.
26
How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan!
Oh, how much I loved you!
And your love for me was deep,
deeper than the love of women!

27
Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen!
Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead.

In this passage, we remember that Saul had caused much trouble for David, but when he died, David actually composed a song in memory of the king. Even though when translated to English the words do not flow very well but in Hebrew this is beautifully flowing song. David was a talented musician. He played the harp. He brought music into the worship services of the Temple. He wrote many of the Psalms (though we simply read them now and think of how beautiful they are even in translated English) which were used in the worship services in the Temple. He, as we know from 1 Samuel, played music in the court of King Saul – sometimes even as spears were thrown at him. He had every reason to hate Saul but he chose not to. He composes a song of lament and honor toward the man that wanted him dead. He chose to look for the good that Saul had done as king and to ignore the times of when Saul had attacked him. It takes courage and a humble heart to lay aside hatred and hurt and to respect the positive side of another person, especially an enemy.

Father in heaven, let us return to the ideals of Dr. King as he laid them out. Love wins. Communication wins. Ignorance and lack of communication loses. Hate loses. We do not stand on the throat of those who disagree with us. We convince them not of our ideals but of those in God’s Word. We convince them through love of the universal truths of God. We seek restoration and unity. Dr. King had the example of David right here in this passage. Man, could David have gone off and been bitter for wasting years of his life running from Saul. However, David never lost sight of the fact that Saul was a child of God and the anointed king of Israel. He chose to honor the man who hated him. He chose to honor the man who hated him enough to want to kill him. He chose to love the man who through a spear at him.

Father, that is your dream for us. That we see each other as valuable in God’s sight even when what that other person is saying makes my skin crawl and my blood boil. That we see each other as worthy of love because God loves us even when we are dead wrong about something. That we sit down and communicate with each other. That we sit down in love and honor and respect for one another such that love wins and hate loses. Jesus Christ did know less for us. He died for us when we show our contempt for Him when we live lives that are in opposition to His Word. Jesus died for us. Even in His own physical time of torment on earth, He could have down of the cross and took vengeance on those who were perpetrating violence against His body. However, He humbly took it all in love. His love for His enemies is our example. He knew the greater ideal was for them to come to know God and be reconciled to Him. We should see our enemies in the same way.

I have a dream that one day we will all be sitting at the banquet table of our Lord. I will be sitting beside those who have persecuted me, hated me, despised me, and we will be praising Jesus Christ together. If that happens then love will have won.

Amen and Amen.

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