2 Samuel 1

Listen to 2 Samuel 1

David Hears of Saul's Death

1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned 1from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.
2 And on the third day, behold, 2a man came from Saul's camp, 3with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, 4he fell to the ground and paid homage.
3 David said to him, "Where do you come from?" And he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel."
4 And David said to him, 5"How did it go? Tell me." And he answered, "The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead."
5 Then David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?"
6 And the young man who told him said, 6"By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him.
7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, 'Here I am.'
8 And he said to me, 'Who are you?' I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.'
9 And he said to me 7'Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.'
10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. 8And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord."
11 Then David took hold of his clothes and 9tore them, and so did all the men who were with him.
12 And they mourned and wept 10and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 And David said to the young man who told him, "Where do you come from?" And he answered, "I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite."
14 David said to him, "How is it you were not 11afraid to put out your hand to destroy 12the LORD's anointed?"
15 Then 13David called one of the young men and said, "Go, execute him." And he struck him down so that he died.
16 And David said to him, 14"Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed 15the LORD's anointed.'"

David's Lament for Saul and Jonathan

17 And David 16lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son,
18 and he said it[a] should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in 17the Book of Jashar.[b] He said:
19 "Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! 18How the mighty have fallen!
20 19Tell it not in Gath, 20publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, 21lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of 22the uncircumcised exult.
21 23"You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fields of offerings![c] For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not 24anointed with oil.
22 "From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, 25the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 "Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were 26swifter than eagles; they were 27stronger than lions.
24 "You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, 28who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25 29"How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!"Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; 30your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.
27 31"How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"

2 Samuel 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This book is the history of the reign of king David. It relates his victories, the growth of the prosperity of Israel, and his reformation of the state of religion. With these events are recorded the grievous sins he committed, and the family as well as public troubles with which he was punished. We here meet with many things worthy of imitation, and many that are written for our warning. The history of king David is given in Scripture with much faithfulness, and from it he appears, to those who fairly balance his many virtues and excellent qualities against his faults, to have been a great and good man.

Tidings brought to David of the death of Saul. (1-10) The Amalekite is put to death. (11-16) David's lamentation for Saul and Jonathan. (17-27)

Verses 1-10 The blow which opened David's way to the throne was given about the time he had been sorely distressed. Those who commit their concerns to the Lord, will quietly abide his will. It shows that he desired not Saul's death, and he was not impatient to come to the throne.

Verses 11-16 David was sincere in his mourning for Saul; and all with him humbled themselves under the hand of God, laid so heavily upon Israel by this defeat. The man who brought the tidings, David put to death, as a murderer of his prince. David herein did not do unjustly; the Amalekite confessed the crime. If he did as he said, he deserved to die for treason; and his lying to David, if indeed it were a lie, proved, as sooner or later that sin will prove, lying against himself. Hereby David showed himself zealous for public justice, without regard to his own private interest.

Verses 17-27 Kasheth, or "the bow," probably was the title of this mournful, funeral song. David does not commend Saul for what he was not; and says nothing of his piety or goodness. Jonathan was a dutiful son, Saul an affectionate father, therefore dear to each other. David had reason to say, that Jonathan's love to him was wonderful. Next to the love between Christ and his people, that affection which springs form it, produces the strongest friendship. The trouble of the Lord's people, and triumphs of his enemies, will always grieve true believers, whatever advantages they may obtain by them.

Cross References 31

  • 1. See 1 Samuel 30:17-20
  • 2. 2 Samuel 4:10
  • 3. See Joshua 7:6
  • 4. 2 Samuel 14:4
  • 5. [1 Samuel 4:16]
  • 6. For ver. 6-10, see 1 Samuel 31:1-4; 1 Chronicles 10:1-6
  • 7. [Judges 9:54]
  • 8. [2 Kings 11:12]
  • 9. 2 Samuel 13:31; [2 Samuel 3:31]; See Joshua 7:6
  • 10. [2 Samuel 3:35]
  • 11. [1 Samuel 24:6, 10; 1 Samuel 26:9; 1 Samuel 31:4]
  • 12. See 1 Samuel 12:3
  • 13. 2 Samuel 4:10
  • 14. [2 Samuel 3:29; Joshua 2:19; 1 Kings 2:32, 37; Matthew 27:25]
  • 15. See 1 Samuel 12:3
  • 16. [2 Samuel 3:33; 2 Chronicles 35:25]
  • 17. Joshua 10:13
  • 18. ver. 25, 27
  • 19. Micah 1:10
  • 20. [1 Samuel 31:9; Amos 3:9]
  • 21. [Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34]
  • 22. See Judges 14:3
  • 23. 1 Samuel 31:1
  • 24. [1 Samuel 10:1]
  • 25. [1 Samuel 18:4]
  • 26. [Jeremiah 4:13; Habakkuk 1:8]
  • 27. [Judges 14:18]
  • 28. [Ezekiel 16:11]
  • 29. ver. 19
  • 30. See 1 Samuel 18:1, 3
  • 31. [See ver. 25 above]

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament's tune
  • [b]. Or of the upright
  • [c]. Septuagint firstfruits

Chapter Summary


This book, in many copies of the Hebrew Bible, is carried on without any new title put unto it; the reason of it is, because, by some, this, with the preceding, has been reckoned but one book: hence the Jews say {a}, Samuel wrote his book, not his books; in others it is called Samuel Second; and by the Vulgate Latin the Second Book of Samuel, which we call the Second of Kings; though why his name should be put to it at all I see not, since it neither concerns him, nor could it be written by him, being an history of events after his death. The Greek version calls it the Second of Kings; and the Syriac version, the Second Book of the Kings of Israel; whereas there is but one king of Israel it makes mention of, and of whose actions only it is an history; and therefore with greater propriety it is called, as the Arabic version, the Book of David the Prophet, of whose reign, from the beginning to the end of it, it gives an account: wherefore Isidore {b} thinks it was written by David; and if so, it has this mark of simplicity and integrity, that the writer does not spare himself, nor conceal his own faults, and particularly that very capital one, the affair of Bathsheba, and also his numbering of the people; but it is most probable that it was written by Nathan and Gad {c}, see 1Ch 29:29; but whoever was the penman of it, there is no doubt to be made of its being written by inspiration, or that it is canonical; which has never been questioned, since there stands in it a famous prophecy concerning the building of the temple by a son of David, which had an exact accomplishment, 2Sa 7:12,13; as well as of the family of David, for a great while to come, which also was fulfilled, 2Sa 7:19; and an eminent passage concerning the Messiah, the son of David, and of his divine sonship, 2Sa 7:14; quoted by the Apostle Paul in proof of it, Heb 1:5. It contains an history of about forty years, for so long David reigned, seven years and six months in Hebron, over Judah, and thirty three years in Jerusalem, over all Israel and Judah; and this book relates his last words.

{a} T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 2. {b} Origin. l. 6. c. 2. {c} Alting. Theolog. Hist. loc. 2. p. 86.


This chapter contains an account of the death of Saul and Jonathan, as related to David by an Amalekite, 2Sa 1:1-10; of the sorrow he and his men were filled with at the news of it, 2Sa 1:11,12; of his order to put to death the messenger that brought the tidings, for his concern in the death of Saul, according to his own testimony, 2Sa 1:13-16; and of a lamentation composed by David on this occasion, 2Sa 1:17-27.

2 Samuel 1 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.