2 Samuel 1

David Learns of Saul's Death

1 Now it came about after 1the death of Saul, when David had returned from 2the slaughter of the Amalekites, that David remained two days in Ziklag.
2 On the third day, behold, 3a man came out of the camp from Saul, 4with his clothes torn and [a]dust on his head. And it came about when he came to David that 5he fell to the ground and prostrated himself.
3 Then David said to him, "From where do you come?" And he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel."
4 David said to him, "6How did things go? Please tell me." And he said, "The people have fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also."
5 So David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?"
6 The young man who told him said, "By chance I happened to be on 7Mount Gilboa, and behold, 8Saul was leaning on his spear. And behold, the chariots and the horsemen pursued him closely.
7 "When he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I said, 'Here I am.'
8 "He said to me, 'Who are you?' And I [b]answered him, '9I am an Amalekite.'
9 "Then he said to me, 'Please stand beside me and kill me, for agony has seized me because my [c]life still lingers in me.'
10 "So I stood beside him 10and killed him, because I knew that he could not live after he had fallen. And 11I took the crown which was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord."
11 Then 12David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so also did all the men who were with him.
12 They mourned and wept and 13fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the LORD and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.
13 David said to the young man who told him, "Where are you from?" And he [d]answered, "14I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite."
14 Then David said to him, "How is it you were not afraid 15to stretch out your hand to destroy the LORD'S anointed?"
15 And David called one of the young men and said, "Go, [e]cut him down." 16So he struck him and he died.
16 David said to him, "17Your blood is on your head, for 18your mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the LORD'S anointed.' "

David's Dirge for Saul and Jonathan

17 Then David 19chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son,
18 and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in 20the book of Jashar.
19 "[f]Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places! 21How have the mighty fallen!
20 "22Tell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, Or 23the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, The daughters of 24the uncircumcised will exult.
21 "25O mountains of Gilboa, 26Let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings; For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, The shield of Saul, not 27anointed with oil.
22 "28From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, 29The bow of Jonathan did not turn back, And the sword of Saul did not return empty.
23 "Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted; 30They were swifter than eagles, 31They were stronger than lions.
24 "O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25 "32How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places.
26 "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. 33Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women.
27 "34How have the mighty fallen, And 35the 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 35

  • 1. 1 Samuel 31:6
  • 2. 1 Sam 30:1, 17, 26
  • 3. 2 Samuel 4:10
  • 4. 1 Samuel 4:12
  • 5. 1 Samuel 25:23
  • 6. 1 Samuel 4:16
  • 7. 1 Samuel 28:4; 1 Samuel 31:1-6; 1 Chronicles 10:4-10
  • 8. 1 Samuel 31:2-4
  • 9. 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 30:1, 13, 17
  • 10. Judges 9:54
  • 11. 2 Kings 11:12
  • 12. Genesis 37:29, 34; Joshua 7:6; 2 Chronicles 34:27; Ezra 9:3
  • 13. 2 Samuel 3:35
  • 14. 2 Samuel 1:8
  • 15. 1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 26:9, 11, 16
  • 16. 2 Samuel 4:10, 12
  • 17. 1 Samuel 26:9; 2 Samuel 3:28, 29; 1 Kings 2:32
  • 18. 2 Samuel 1:10; Luke 19:22
  • 19. 2 Chronicles 35:25
  • 20. Joshua 10:13
  • 21. 2 Samuel 1:25, 27
  • 22. 1 Samuel 31:8-13; Micah 1:10
  • 23. Exodus 15:20, 21; 1 Samuel 18:6
  • 24. 1 Samuel 14:6
  • 25. 1 Samuel 31:1
  • 26. Ezekiel 31:15
  • 27. Isaiah 21:5
  • 28. Deuteronomy 32:42; Isaiah 34:6
  • 29. 1 Samuel 18:4
  • 30. Jeremiah 4:13
  • 31. Judges 14:18
  • 32. 2 Samuel 1:19, 27
  • 33. 1 Samuel 18:1-4
  • 34. 2 Samuel 1:19, 25
  • 35. Isaiah 13:5

Footnotes 6

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

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.  All rights reserved.