Individual Responsibility in Human Relationship—No Tit-for-Tat

David Honors Saul at Death

Through his reverence for Saul in life and response to the death of Saul, David illustrates individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent. Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any relationship, independent of the other party’s behavior. David revered Saul in life and honored him in death to fulfill his responsibility to the God-anointed king, irrespective of whether Saul was good or bad to him. He was accountable to God for the way he related to Saul. Also, independently, Saul was accountable to God for the way he related to David. Their accountability to God was personal and independent, as was their individual responsibility to the relationship.

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Individual responsibility in human relationship is well described by Apostle Paul in his letter to Romans [12:17–18]: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” As we discuss in a previous study under Sin Repentance and Forgiveness in Human Interaction, the phrase “as far as it depends on you” means focus on the aspects that depend on you—the things you control, and leave the other party to handle the things they control. Therefore, Paul’s message reminds every person to perform their individual responsibility in any relationship irrespective of the other party performing or failing to perform theirs.

Battle of Gilboa
wikipedia.org

We discuss David’s response to the death of Saul as an example of a person focusing on his individual responsibility in a relationship without minding the attitude of the other party. For several years prior to Saul’s death, he considered David an enemy and pursued him relentlessly to take his life but was unsuccessful. In contrast, as we discuss in a previous study under Guided by Right and Just—David Spares Saul, David remained respectful of Saul as the sitting God’s anointed king of Israel and would not “lay a hand” on him even when he encountered enticing opportunities to kill Saul. When he was informed of the defeat of Israel and death of Saul and Jonathan at the hand of Philistines, David mourned for Saul, Jonathan, and the nation and army of Israel. He mourned for Saul in fulfillment of his responsibility to respect and honor the God-anointed king of Israel. His mourning for Jonathan was an expression of sadness for losing a friend and warrior that represented a great promise for Israel. He mourned for the nation and army of Israel out of spiritual recognition of a need to lead Israel through repentance to regain God’s favor to restore her superiority against Philistines.

Mourning for Saul

Massacre by Philistines
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

The Philistines had defeated Israel and inflicted extensive casualties against them [1 Samuel 31:1–2]: “Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua.” Saul fell on his sword to kill himself: “So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day” [1 Samuel 31:6].

David honored Saul as fallen king of Israel despite Saul’s enmity toward him. As we discuss in Guided by Right and Just, David revered Saul in awe of God. He respected Saul in life and honored him in death to fulfill his responsibility to God’s anointed king of Israel, irrespective of whether Saul was good or bad to him.

INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY Through his reverence for Saul in life and response to the death of Saul, David illustrates individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent. Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any human relationship irrespective of what the other party does. David was accountable to God for the way he related to Saul. Also, independently, Saul was accountable to God for the way he related to David. Their accountability to God was personal and independent, as was their individual responsibility to the relationship. Similarly, every person is accountable to God for fulfilling their individual responsibility in any relationship, independent of the other party’s behavior.

Mourning for Jonathan

Farewell to Jonathan
Sweet Publishing FreeBibleImages.org

David mourned Jonathan as “weapons of war” that perished prematurely [2 Samuel 1:27]. He admired Jonathan’s bravery and faith and cherished their friendship. Furthermore, he regretted that Jonathan died prematurely and their expectation of collaborating to greater accomplishment for Israel was cut short.

They discussed potential collaboration during their last meeting at Horesh, when Jonathan encouraged David and intimated he would be happy to work as second in command under David as king [1 Samuel 23:17]: “‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.’” Therefore, David was saddened that all the expectation crashed to a sudden end and he mourned Jonathan as “weapons of war” that perished.

Mourning for the Nation and Army of Israel

David mourned for the nation and army of Israel because he believed God turned away from Israel and allowed defeat at the hand of “uncircumcised” Philistines. He believed God turned away because Israel sinned. Also, he believed he was ready to lead the nation through repentance to regain God’s favor to restore superiority against Philistines. Therefore, he warned the Philistines not to rejoice: “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice” [2 Samuel 1:20].

Summary of What We Learned

David revered Saul in life and honored him in death to fulfill his responsibility to God’s anointed king of Israel, irrespective of whether Saul was good or bad to him. Through his attitude to Saul, David illustrates individual responsibility in human relationship is unidirectional and independent. Every person is accountable for his/her responsibility in any relationship, independent of the other party’s behavior. David was accountable to God for the way he related to Saul. Also, independently, Saul was accountable to God for the way he related to David. Their accountability to God was personal and independent, as was their individual responsibility to the relationship.

Furthermore, David mourned Jonathan as an expression of sadness for losing a friend and warrior that represented a great promise for Israel. He mourned for the nation and army of Israel out of spiritual recognition of a need to lead Israel through repentance to regain God’s favor to restore her superiority against Philistines.

More Information

Please watch this bible study on video at VIDEO_LINK, listen to or download the audio at AUDIO_LINK. You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation from PDF_LINK.

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