A Different Kind of Honor
Father, You are worthy of honor and praise. Bless the Lord, O my soul.
2 Samuel 1:17-27
Consider: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory, and honor and power" (Rev. 4:11).
Tragedy is an effective teacher. Although blessings are sweet for the moment, the things that hurt us tend to stay longer in our memories. Sometimes they leave scars. On the one hand, David's response to the deaths of Saul and Jonathan were cultural protocol. When a city was destroyed or a king died, people lamented them ceremonially. But on the other hand, David's lament is a lesson of lasting impact for God's people. David, now king, laments the deaths of Saul and Jonathan in what experts consider to be one of the finest pieces of Hebrew lyric poetry in Scripture.
What is the poem's message? The refrain "How have the mighty fallen" (19,25,27) unifies David's lament in a literary envelope for emphasis. But part of the story is conspicuously absent. David makes no mention of Saul falling on his sword or spear (6). That's because David wants the people of Judah to remember the greatness of Saul and Jonathan without hesitating. He does this by focusing on their weapons, both offensive and defensive. The tools of war, although still symbolic of royal valor, are now abandoned and left to the elements much like the honor of the two fallen warriors. The imagery calls for the reader to honor Saul and Jonathan.
When someone we love dies, we like to remember the good things about him or her. But selective memory was consistent with David's treatment of Saul in life as well. Regardless of what Saul did to mistreat David, David viewed Saul with honor (16). Although some might see David's high regard for Saul as blind, David wanted God's people also to honor Saul because in so doing they would honor God. This is a different kind of honor, one that we would do well to consider as we view God's role in the lives of others.
What does honoring your relationship with the Lord mean to your commitments with family, friends, and others in your life?
Lord, I struggle with honoring those who do not seem to deserve it. Help me to give them honor and pray for them, even though I may not agree with them.