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2 Samuel 1 Study Notes

1:1 The historical account of the first kings of Israel continues following the description of the death of Saul in 1Sm 31. No doubt David and his men needed some rest, so they stayed at Ziklag. In addition, Ziklag needed to be rebuilt (1Sm 30:1).

1:2-3 By the third day, Saul had been dead a few days, but David had been occupied elsewhere. Torn clothes and dust on his head were signs of mourning, so David immediately knew bad news was forthcoming.

1:4-10 The words the troops fled indicate that Israel had lost the battle (1Sm 4:17; 17:24; 31:1). Saul and . . . Jonathan are dead was terrible news, but also news that required further verification. Mount Gilboa was the site of the battle, so the messenger’s word placed him at the scene. Saul, leaning on his spear gives the sense that an eyewitness was speaking. The mention of chariots and . . . cavalry was consistent with Philistine warfare, especially in a valley where the chariots had plenty of room to maneuver. Ironically, the man was an Amalekite, part of the group Saul had been commanded to destroy (1Sm 15:1-3). Saul’s alleged words could square with the circumstances of 1Sm 31:3-4. With his words I stood over him and killed him, the Amalekite claimed responsibility for killing King Saul. Further, the man’s possession of Saul’s crown and armband provided proof of the Amalekite’s presence at Gilboa and that Saul was dead. Two possibilities exist on harmonizing this verse with 1Sm 31:4. The first is to assume Saul fell on his sword, did not die immediately, and so asked the Amalekite to help bring about a quicker death. The second and more likely is that the Amalekite arrived on the scene after Saul had died but before the Philistines arrived. He saw an opportunity to receive a reward from David, so he took the crown and armband to David and lied about the way Saul died. Perhaps David detected the Amalekite’s deceit, which in part would explain his command in v. 15.

1:11-12 Throughout his life, David had remained as loyal as possible to Saul’s house. The king of Israel lay dead, so David and all with him mourned, wept, and fasted.

1:13-14 David’s reference to Saul as the Lord’s anointed (1Sm 24:6) highlights the respect he had for God’s hand on his former king, despite the struggles he had experienced with Saul.

1:15-16 By ordering the Amalekite’s death, David further distanced himself from participation in or endorsement of Saul’s death.

1:17 The lengthiest example of a lament in the Bible is the book of Lamentations, though many psalms also are so classified (Pss 3; 22; 137).

1:18 David commanded that Judahites everywhere should learn this lament. Such an order provided further indication of the depth of his sorrow and the respect he had for Saul and Jonathan. The Book of Jashar (or “Book of the Upright”) is also mentioned in Jos 10:13. It has never been discovered, but it appears to have been a collection of some of God’s great works among his people.

1:19 Splendor also may be translated as “gazelle,” describing Saul as a majestic animal. Gazelles often inhabited the heights, so the image fits well.

1:20 David did not want Israel’s enemies to rejoice, but they were already doing so (1Sm 31:9). Gath and Ashkelon were two leading Philistine cities (see note at 1Sm 5:1).

1:21 David called to the mountains of Gilboa, the site of Saul’s death, to participate in the mourning by lacking dew and rain, two kinds of moisture much more common in the north where Gilboa was located rather than in the south where David was. The Hebrew seems to reflect the depth of David’s extreme emotion. The phrase the shield of Saul, no longer anointed with oil perhaps indicates the cleaning and polishing of Saul’s weapons. The concept of anointing was fitting for Saul, God’s anointed one.

1:22 David praised the king and prince for their bravery and lack of retreat in the face of serious danger.

1:23 David also praised the relationship that Saul and Jonathan had. First Samuel reveals Jonathan’s strained relationship with his father, as Jonathan tried to be both a loyal son to Saul and a loyal friend to David. David affirmed the mutual commitment of Saul and Jonathan in that they died fighting beside each other.


Hebrew pronunciation [meh SHEE akh]
CSB translation anointed
Uses in 2 Samuel 5
Uses in the OT 38
Focus passage 2 Samuel 1:14,16

Meshiyach, from mashach (anoint, 70x) describes somebody anointed to serve God, usually kings (1Sm 10:1), prophets (1Kg 19:16), or priests (Ex 28:41). Meshiyach figuratively designates patriarchs as specially chosen (Ps 105:15). Cyrus is God’s anointed because of his role in delivering Israel from Babylonian captivity (Is 45:1). All priests were anointed (Ex 29:21), but the specially anointed high priest was called the anointed priest (Lv 4:3). The king of Israel is often called the Lord’s anointed (2Sm 1:14). After David, meshiyach indicates Davidic kings (Ps 18:50). Meshiyach identifies God’s Anointed One, Christ, in Ps 2:2, according to Ac 4:26. Meshiyach is translated Anointed One in Dn 9:25-26. Mashach also means pour oil (Gn 31:13), coat (Ex 29:2), oil (Is 21:5), paint (Jr 22:14), or anoint oneself (Am 6:6). Mishchah (21x, Ex 25:6) and moshchah (2x, Ex 40:15) mean anointing, and mimshach suggests anointed (Ezk 28:14).

1:24-27 The phrase clothed you in scarlet shows that Saul’s military victories had provided stability and perhaps even prosperous times for many Israelites. David called Jonathan his brother and friend. His relationship with Jonathan included a covenant bond of deep mutual respect and loyalty (1Sm 18:1-3; 20:13-17; 23:16-18). As leading men of society, they had much in common and developed a deep relationship that David considered more wondrous than the love of women. The text does not suggest that David had a homosexual relationship with Jonathan or that David had a poor relationship with his wives. Rather, it speaks to an unbreakable friendship bond between men that has been witnessed countless times and in countless cultures throughout history.

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