“Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad…” (II Samuel 1:20).
We remember the sight of US soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, with a downed Black Hawk in the background. We remember the smiles of Osama bin Laden following 9-11. Those scenes pain us. It hurts when our heroes fall. It hurts worse when our enemies celebrate their fall. King David would understand how we feel. He had tasted the bitterness of war. He knew the agony of losing a friend, losing a leader, and losing a hero.
Word was received that the Philistines had killed Saul, king of Israel, and his son, Jonathan. David had loved Jonathan as a brother. Each would have died to protect the other. Saul was a different story. Saul, jealous for his throne, had tried more than once to kill David. We might have expected David to praise his battle buddy and denounce his avowed enemy. He did not. He sang the praises of both. While he wrote, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother.” he also penned, “O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul.” He lamented, “How the mighty have fallen in battle.”
In David’s eyes, both were heroes. Both fought against the enemies of Israel. Both risked their
lives to protect their nation. It went deeper than that. Saul was David’s commander. He had been appointed to that position by God. That position demanded respect. David was not at the battlefield on which these men fell. When a foreigner brought news of the deaths, he thought David would be happy to hear of it. He even falsely claimed credit for the death of Saul. He thought he would be rewarded. Instead, he was executed. David told him, “Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed’” (II Samuel 1:16).
We can learn much from the warrior, David. We marvel at his trust in the Lord God. We admire his courage and fighting ability. We appreciate the way he commanded his troops and later ruled his nation. But we dare not neglect to notice the way he regarded those who fought against his nation’s enemies. He saw them as God’s gifts to the nation. David did not agree with Saul’s sinful ways. He did not join in the wrong. But he did not use that as an excuse to dishonor him in death.
From the line of David would come one greater than a Saul, a king greater than David. He, too, would die for his people. He would be the King of kings, and Savior of nations. His spokesman, the Apostle Paul, would be led to write, “Give to everyone what you owe them: …if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:7). So, today we say, “Tell it not in Kabul, proclaim it not in Islamabad, when American warriors are struck down.” Let our enemies not gloat over our losses.
Let this be known: We give honor when heroes fall.
We pray: Eternal Father, strong to save, we are sinful people of a sinful nation. We deserve none of your favors. Yet, you have favored our nation by providing those who are willing to risk their lives to protect our people. We praise you for freedoms passed down to us. Greatest is the freedom to proclaim and to hear the message of your Son’s victory over the forces of darkness. Permit us to honor you by honoring those you have provided to protect us. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military