Summary: Christians have the emotional and spiritual resources to cope with loss.

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20110703 The Third Sunday After Pentecost - Web Site

Title: How to Grieve without Obsessing

Text: II Samuel 1 – 2:7

Thesis: Christians have the emotional and spiritual resources to cope with loss.


On July 4, 1776, just 235 years ago, the Continental Congress adopted The Declaration of Independence, officially severing the 13 Colonies from British rule. During the 8 year American Revolutionary War, 25,000 American revolutionaries died but only 8,000 in battle. The other 17,000 died of disease or starvation. (

I cite the Korean War because it was sixty-one years and eight days ago that the Korean War began on June 25, 1950. It continued until July 27, 1953 when an armistice was signed reaffirming the division of the Koreas along the 38th Parallel with a two and a half mile wide DMZ buffer zone between North and South Korea. It was a war fought between South Korea and the United Nations against North Korea, supported by the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union. It was something of a battle for the independence of a democratic South Korea against the growing threat of communism that was prevalent throughout the Cold War. The Department of Defense reports 36,516 American soldiers died during the Korean War and an additional 8,176 are reported missing in action. (

Currently the United States has been involved in the war in Afghanistan since October 7, 2001… 9 years and 269 days. Of the 2,475 coalition deaths, 1,572 were American soldiers. And of the 16,000 coalition wounded, 10,944 were American soldiers. (

If you were to Google “Timeline for United States Military Operations” you would see a mind boggling cataloging of our country’s involvements in conflicts around the world. It is no wonder that 2012 defense related expenditures are estimated to between 1 and 1.4 trillion dollars. It is sobering to know that U.S. military spending is 40% of total global military spending. Our military expenditures are 6 times that of China. And the United States and our allies are responsible for 3/4ths of global military spending. (

But as shockingly sad as all of that is… the most devastating statistic is the loss of lives.

The setting for our story today is that of war. It was a deadly ongoing conflict between the army of Israel and the Philistine army. In our story today the Israelite army collapsed and fled before the Philistines. They killed Saul’s three sons, Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shau. Archers eventually wounded King Saul prompting Saul to ask his armor-bearer to take his life rather than be captured and humiliated by the enemy. He would not so Saul fell on his own sword as did his armor-bearer. And when the dust had cleared, the Philistines had cut off King Saul’s head and nailed his body and the bodies of his three sons to a wall. (I Samuel 31)

While all of this is going on, David and his army, who had been on the outs with King Saul, had been fighting as mercenaries for the Philistines. He had successfully routed the Amalekites and had stopped in a place called Ziklag to recoup. While he was there he received devastating news.

Despite our familiarity with death, it still shocks up.

I. Loss often comes without warning… it is shocking!

“What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.” He said, “The men fled from the battle, many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.” II Samuel 1:1-10

A. David had just returned from victory over the Amalekites.

David had just returned from a military victory over the Amalekites. It is a rather exciting story if you care to read about it in I Samuel 30. David and his army were victorious and they were basking in their glory and the plunder.

B. David received the report from the battlefront… Saul and Jonathan are dead!

Our text says that on the third day of relaxing a straggler staggered into Ziklag and fell on the ground before David. He told David that he had just come from the battlefield where the Philistines had defeated King Saul and his army. He told him that King Saul and his son Jonathan were dead. He went on to tell David that in order to spare King Saul the indignity of being captured and tortured, he had taken King Saul’s life.

David was no Pollyanna. David did not wear rose-colored glasses. David knew all too well the realities of life and death. He had done his own share of killing and he had seen many of his own friends die in battle. But still the reality of King Saul’s death shocked him.

He should not have been surprised because people die in battle during wartime. We are not surprised that crab fishermen get swept off their boats and die in the Baltic Sea. We are not surprised that the swamp people hunting alligators down in Florida sometimes get bit by an alligator. We are not surprised when a NASCAR driver gets killed in a fiery crash. We are not surprised when skiers get smacked when they ski into a pine tree. We are no surprised when a climber falls during a rock climb. We are not surprised when an elderly person goes to be with the Lord. But in some way, we are always a bit shocked… we expected it but it still surprises us.

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