Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 33
1 Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 Now it came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and [so] it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
3 And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.
4 And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
5 And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?
6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here [am] I.
8 And he said unto me, Who [art] thou? And I answered him, I [am] an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life [is] yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that [was] upon his head, and the bracelet that [was] on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that [were] with him:
12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
The story of David and Saul is one of the most interesting stories in the Old Testament Scriptures insofar as Saul appears in many respects as a tragic figure and David as one as well, although peculiarly blessed of the Lord. Both Saul and David are also portrayed not as some mythical warrior kings, but as very human, sometimes anxious, sometimes vindictive, and sometimes penitent kings. There is something greatly reassuring and truthful in the picture we see of these two kings.
The lament here for the fallen seems particularly appropriate in light of the House vote on Iraq - while I have strong opinions about the unwisdom of making war strategy via Congressional budget processes and the signal this sends to the Gulf, it is the Constitutional perogative of the House to deal with appropriations for military budgets. Now that we perhaps are seeing the ending days of major U.S. involvement in Iraq for season, let us take some time in our Lenten fast to mourn the slain and pray for those who even now desire the simple things of being able to go to school or the marketplace without fear of falling victim to the madness of suicide bombers or indiscriminate gunmen.
Lord have mercy!