Now we are going to continue with the Book of Second Samuel and bring out more concepts that will help us understand this book, but also the rest of Scripture. Remember, the two books of Samuel originally formed one, historical book. They were separated into two books around 200 B.C.
In 2 Sam 1.1-27 David learns about the death of Saul and Jonathan through a man who came to David with his clothes torn and dust on his head. David knew this was a bad sign. David had remained in Ziklag for several days, which was a ruin, but it had some habitable parts. It was on the third day that this man said he came out of the camp of Saul. When he came to David he prostrated himself. David asked him where he had come from, and the man said he had escaped from the camp of Israel. David asked him what happened and the man said the people have fled from the battle, and many have died. He then said Saul and Jonathan were dead.
David said to him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” The man said that “by chance” he happened to be on Mount Gilboa and Saul was leaning on his spear. First of all, this is not true because 1 Sam 31.4 says that Saul used a sword and was wounded. The man said that the chariots and the horsemen were pursuing Saul closely. When he looked behind him, he saw the man and called out to him. Saul asked who he was, and the man said he was an Amalekite. Saul failed to kill the Amalekites, now he is face to face with one at his death.
Saul then asked the Amalekite to kill him because he was in much pain, and he was still alive after his wounds. So the Amalekite told David that he stood beside him and killed him because he knew that he could not live after he had fallen. He then took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet which was on his arm, and brought them to David.
First of all, we believe that this story is untrue. The Amalekite came to David because he thought he was going to get a reward for killing Saul, but David did not know he was an Amalekite just yet. We believe that the Amalekite came upon Saul, but he was already dead. We know that Saul’s armor bearer saw that he was dead (1 Sam 31.4-5) and then the armor bearer fell on his sword and died with him. The Amalekite came upon Saul and took the crown and the bracelet before the Philistines stripped Saul’s body. The crown is called a “netzer” in Hebrew and the bracelet is called the “Edut” and this had the royal insignia on it and it had sealed scrolls that were given by God about his reign (2 Kings 11.12; Dan 7.9-10, 13-14; Rev 4-5).
If we believe the Amalekite’s story, then this is heart rendering and ironic. In an on-going battle, God had commanded Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites, but Saul failed to do it, and now an Amalekite says he killed Saul. But, we do not believe the Amalekite’s story. He said this because he believed that he would get a reward from David.
As we have said before, Amalek is a picture of Satan, the False Messiah and our flesh. Amalek focused his attention on the sick, feeble and weak (Deut 25.17-18). He did not fear Yehovah and Yehovah declares war on Amalek forever in Exo 17.16. The battle with Amalek can only be won with Yeshua’s death and resurrection, and with prayer. Like our nation of fleshly desires, God promises to blot out the remembrance of Amalek.
After hearing this news, David tears his clothes, mourned and fasted. Saul had taken everything from David, yet he mourned for him and his sons. He had been somewhat reconciled to Saul and he had stopped pursuing David. This teaches us that hatred, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness are things we choose to engage in, they are not “imposed” upon us (1 Cor 13.5; 1 Pet 4.8). There is a saying that says, “We can choose to become better not bitter.” Even David’s men mourned until evening for Saul and Jonathan. They also had their own reasons for hating Saul but chose not to.
David also grieved for Jonathan and the people of Israel. The nation was in a very dangerous position now because the king and his heir were dead, and the army was defeated. David asked the man, “Where are you from?” The man answered, “I am the son of an alien (a ger) and an Amalekite.” David then says to him, “How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” David didn’t do it (1 Sam 26.10-11), and neither did Saul’s armor bearer (1 Sam 31.4).
So, David orders one of his men to kill the Amalekite for saying he killed the anointed of God. He said, “Your blood is on your head, for your mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.'” At this point, it really doesn’t matter if the Amalekite was acting in good faith or not. By his own words he said he killed Saul, and besides, he was an Amalekite.
In 2 Sam 1.19-27 we have what is called “The Song of the Bow.” David intended that this song be taught to the people of Judah and it was written in what is called the “Book of Jasher.” The Book of Jasher is also mentioned in Josh 10.3 and Josh 19.1-2, and it contained a collection of Jewish poetry. This is not some missing piece of Scripture just because it is mentioned in the Bible and it contains common verses. There are other Jewish writings that are mentioned in the Bible like the “Book of the Wars of the Lord” (Num 21.14); “The Book of Samuel the Seer” and “The Book of Nathan the Prophet” and the “Book of Gad the Seer” (1 Chr 29.29).
There are also the “Acts of Rehoboam” and the “Chronicles of the Kings of Judah” (1 Kings 14.29). We know that Solomon wrote over a thousand songs (1 Kings 4.32) but we have only two in Psalm 72 and Psalm 127. Paul quoted the Cretan Epimenides in Titus 1.12, and Epimenides and Aratus in Acts 17.28. God used materials from many different sources in Scripture. There is a “Book of Jasher” out there today, but it is not the same book mentioned in these passages. It is an eighteenth century forgery that says it is a translation of the lost book of Jasher by Alcuin, an eighth century English scholar.
There is a more recent book called “The Book of Jasher” by a science fiction writer named Benjamin Rosenbaum, and it is complete fiction. There is another book by this name written in Hebrew called by some “Pseuodo-Jasher” and it is a collection of legends from creation to Joshua. Scholars don’t believe it existed before 1625 A.D. There are some rabbinical works that go by the name “Sefer Ha Yasher” but none of these are the original book. In short, the Book of Jasher mentioned in Scripture is lost. Anything that claims to be this book is just plain fiction.
In Part 2, we will pick with the “Song of the Bow” since David wanted it to be taught, and we will examine it verse by verse. It is an eastern custom to celebrate the great and their exploits, qualities and deeds.