Summary: The message is a call for men to be manly, despite knowing the cost that may be required of a man.

“David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:

“‘Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!

How the mighty have fallen!

Tell it not in Gath,

publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,

lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,

lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.

“‘You mountains of Gilboa,

let there be no dew or rain upon you,

nor fields of offerings!

For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,

the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

“‘From the blood of the slain,

from the fat of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan turned not back,

and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

“‘Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!

In life and in death they were not divided;

they were swifter than eagles;

they were stronger than lions.

“‘You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,

who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,

who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

“‘How the mighty have fallen

in the midst of the battle!

“‘Jonathan lies slain on your high places.

I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;

very pleasant have you been to me;

your love to me was extraordinary,

surpassing the love of women.

“‘How the mighty have fallen,

and the weapons of war perished!’” [1]

“How the mighty have fallen!” This is David’s assessment as he lamented the deaths of Jonathan and Saul. He lamented their courage and their bravery that had secured safety for the nation; their courage and their bravery had come at an awful cost. Thus, David led the nation in remembering the awful cost of national defence.

I watched, with both admiration for the heroism displayed and with deep sadness, a video displayed of the first battle ever recorded for which the first Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded. [2] I knew the outcome of the battle before I began watching, but seeing a video of the battle as it unfolded was deeply moving, nonetheless. In fact, technical sergeant John Chapman was awarded two Medals of Honor that day for saving the lives of an entire seal team and then saving the lives of another eighteen members of a quick-reaction force. For those unfamiliar with American service awards, the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award that can be given to United States service personnel. A CIA Predator Drone captured the combat from the time a team landed in an ambush manned by Al-Qaeda rebels. Sergeant Chapman sacrificed his own life to ensure the safety of others. Truly, such courageous action merits identifying him as a hero. The death of heroes always leaves us with deep grief tempered by great admiration.

The great Confederate General Robert E. Lee, viewing the carnage associated with the battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, is reported to have said to General James Longstreet, “It is well that war is so terrible; otherwise we would grow too fond of it.” We speak of those who sign a blank cheque with a value up to their life as heroes because they don the uniform that marks them as protectors of the nation. To be certain, there is an air of nobility about rugged men who have accepted the call and who have known the camaraderie of the battlefield. They have endured the brutality of the conflict and the deprivation of the trenches. These hardy souls are seldom casual about life after such experiences.

If we applied contemporary concepts of respect for authority to the events leading up to Saul and Jonathan’s deaths, it would be easy to imagine that David would celebrate their deaths. In this day, we have ceased to be respectful toward national leaders with whom we disagree. We speak ill of those with whom we disagree or those who represent a party different from that which we support. We casually dismiss those who fail to meet our expectations. A Prime Minister or a President who represents a party other than our own does not merit our respect, or so we have convinced ourselves. Tragically, because we know so much about our national leaders, we know every foible, ever error that marks their way. If they belong to the right party, or if they happen to align with our political views, we are prepared to overlook their missteps. However, those with whom we disagree are not deserving of the same courtesy.

In contradistinction to contemporary views of those who lead nations and even churches, David held the conviction that one should not treat the leader of the nation with disdain. He held that the leader of the nation was God’s anointed, the leader whom God permitted to lead. On one occasion, when he had opportunity to kill Saul, David refrained, saying, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed” [1 SAMUEL 24:6].

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