David Mourns Saul and Jonathan

Why David Mourned for Saul, Jonathan, Israel


When Philistines defeated Israel in the battle at Mt. Gilboa and killed the Israeli king Saul and his son Jonathan, David mourned Saul, Jonathan, the Israeli army, and the house of Israel. In this study, we examine why he mourned. While his mourning for Saul was intended to honor and show respect, his mourning for Jonathan was an expression of sadness and regret for an unexpected loss of life. In contrast, we find that his mourning for the Israeli army and house of Israel goes beyond grieving or lamenting for the dead and invokes spiritual mourning such as mentioned in “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted [Matthew 5:4].”

God’s Anointed

David mourned Saul because he respected his position as God’s anointed king of Israel and believed his death should be mourned by all Israel in honor and respect for the authority that God conferred on him.

Weapons of War Perished

He mourned Jonathan because he admired his bravery, faith, and friendship. Also, because he anticipated future collaboration with Jonathan and victories for Israel from the collaboration, he mourned Jonathan, not only as a friend, but as the “weapons of war” [2 Samuel 1:27] that perished unexpectedly.

Spiritual Mourning

However, David’s mourning for the Israeli army and house of Israel stemmed from his belief that defeat of the Israeli army by the “uncircumcised” Philistines meant God had turned away from Israel because of transgressions by the people or their leaders. He was saddened by this and sought forgiveness so God may restore favor to Israel and the status of the Israeli army as the “army of the living God” [1 Samuel 17:26 & 45]. So, his mourning for Israel embodied repentance (sadness and regret for sin), asking for forgiveness, and renewed commitment to God to stay away from sin.


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