The Report of Saul’s Death

In his excellent little book “When Loved Ones Are Taken in Death,” Lehman Strauss made some interesting comments about the Greek word translated “departure.” He wrote, “It is as when a vessel pulls up anchor to loose from its moorings and set sail, or as … More


When Saul died David and his men were still living in Ziklag where he had been hiding from Saul (v. 1). This was a dark day in the history of Israel. War and defeat had come to these people because they were out of the will of God. Three days after Saul’s death an Amalikite arrived at David’s doorstep with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. He bowed in front of David attempting to show deep respect (v. 2). Immediately David began to question him as to why he had come (v. 3). This Amalikite began by telling how he had escaped from the Israeli Army after the fierce battle in which Saul and Jonathan had been killed (v. 4). David asked how he knew for sure that Saul was dead (v. 7). The Amalikite replied that he had found Saul leaning against his spear begging for someone to put him out of his misery (vv. 5-9). He said that he then killed Saul and brought his crown and one of his bracelets as proof (v. 10).

Having heard this David and his men were visibly shaken and mourned and wept and fasted till evening. They showed genuine sorrow over the loss of their king, even though Saul had been trying to kill David for many years (v. 11-12). Then David asked the Amalikite how he could kill God’s chosen king and told him that upon his own confession he must be put to death. Immediately one of David’s men put a sword through him and he died. David believed that God anointed Saul as king and only God could remove him from office (vv. 13-16).


It seems that David thought the Amalikite was lying, both about his identity and what happened on the battlefield, thinking he could gain some personal award for killing David’s rival. How much respect do I maintain for my leaders, in spite of their shortcomings. I must always remember that lying can bring disaster like it did to this man.

II Samuel 1:1-16 (English Standard Version)

After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David said to him, "Where do you come from?" And he said to him, "I have escaped from the camp of Israel." And David said to him, "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." Then David said to the young man who told him, "How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?" And the young man who told him said, "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. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said to me, 'Who are you?' I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.' And he said to me 'Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.' 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." Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. And they mourned and wept and 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. 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.'"

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