In 2 Sam. 1 tells an absorbing story. It is also a confusing account because of how David reacts to the news of King Saul’s death. In this passage, an Amalekite brings David the crown Saul wore and told him that Saul had been mortally wounded in battle. He then gives more details about Saul’s death. He tells David that Saul asked him to end his life so his enemies would not take him alive. The man tells David that he did as Saul requested.
In some ways, you could see that this man was in an awkward position and decided to help Saul end his life. In another way of looking at it, he killed Saul by his recollection of the story. Notice how David responds as he interacts with the Amalekite,
“‘So I stood beside him and killed him because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And 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’… 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.’ David said to him, ‘How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?’ Then David called one of the young men and said, ‘Go, execute him.’ And he struck him down so that he died. And David said to him, ’Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’ ” (2 Sam. 1:10-16)
What did David mean that the Amalekite’s blood was on his head? And why did David have him executed? Notice how the death of Saul was recorded one chapter earlier,
“The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.’ But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. (1 Sam. 31:3-6)
This summary of the death of Saul is different than the one told by the Amalekite.
The ESV Study Bible makes an excellent observation about this story. It says,
“The narrator (whom readers should believe) in 1 Samuel 31 says that Saul killed himself. Having already read that, readers know that this man is lying to gain favor with the person who was most likely to replace Saul as king.”
It appears that the plan of the Amalekite was to lie in a way that he thought he would gain favor in the sight of David who would be the new king of Israel. He found out that his lies backfired! Instead of putting him in good standing with David, David saw through his testimony and his lies sealed his fate. Because of his deception, David had him executed.
Father, this story is a great reminder that lies will be found out. There can be grave consequences for such behavior. Help me to be truthful and not seek personal advantage through misleading statements.
Following Jesus with you,