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THE SHEPHERD BOY BECOMES A KING
II Samuel i: 1, to iv: 12.
N the third day after the battle on Mount Gilboa, David
was at his home in Ziklag, on the south of Judah, when
a young man came into the town, running, with garments
torn and earth on his head, as was the manner of those
in deep grief. He hastened to David, and fell down
before him. And David said to him, "From what place
have you come?"
And the young man said, "Out of the camp of Israel I
And David said to him, "What has taken place? Tell me
Then the man answered, "The men of Israel have been
beaten in the battle; very many of them are slain, and
the rest have fled away. King Saul is dead, and so is
Jonathan, his son."
"How do you know that Saul and Jonathan are dead?"
And the young man said, "I happened to be on Mount
Gilboa in the battle; and I saw Saul leaning upon his
spear wounded, and near death, with his enemies close
upon him. And he said to me, 'Come to me, and kill me,
for I am suffering great pain.' So I stood beside him
and killed him, for I saw that he could not live. And I
took the crown that was on his head, and the bracelet
on his arm, and I have brought them to you, my lord
Then David and all the men that were with him tore
their clothes, and mourned, and wept, and took no food
on that day, on account of Saul, and of Jonathan, and
for the people of Israel who had fallen by the sword.
And David said to the young man who had brought to him
the news, "Who are you? To what people do you belong?"
And he said, "I am no Israelite; I am an Amalekite."
"How was it," said David to him, "that you were not
afraid to slay the king of Israel, the anointed of the
Lord? You shall die for this deed."
And David commanded one of his men to kill him, because
he had said that he had slain the king. He may have
told the truth, but it is more likely that he was not
in the battle, and that after the fighting he came upon
the field to rob the dead bodies, and that he brought a
false story of having slain Saul, hoping to have a
reward. But as David would not slay the anointed king,
even though he were his enemy, he would not reward, but
would rather punish the stranger who claimed to have
And David wrote a song over the death of Saul and
Jonathan. He taught it to the people of Judah, and
THE SONG OF THE BOW
Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places!
How are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath.
Publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the heathen triumph.
Ye mountains of Gilboa.
Let there be no dew nor rain upon you neither fields of offerings:
For there the shield of the mighty was cast away as a vile thing.
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
And the sword of Saul returned not empty.
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided:
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet delicately,
Who put ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
On Jonathan, slain upon thy high places!
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan,
Very pleasant has thou been unto me;
Thy love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!"
After this, at the command of the Lord, David and his
men went up from Ziglag to Hebron, in the middle of the
tribe-land of Judah. And the men of Judah met together
at Hebron, and they made David king over their tribe.
And David reigned in Hebron, over the tribe of Judah,
for seven years.
HEBRON, WHERE DAVID WENT
But Saul's uncle, Abner, who had been the chief over
his house and over his army, was not willing to have
the kingdom go out of the family of Saul. He made a son
of Saul king over all the tribes in the north of the
land. This king was called Ish-bosheth, a name which
means "a worthless man." He was weak and helpless,
except for the strong will and power of Abner, who had
made him king. For six years seemingly under
Ish-bosheth, but really under Abner, the form of a
kingdom was kept up, while Ish-bosheth was living at
Mahanaim, on the east of Jordan.
Thus for a time there were two kingdoms in Israel, that
of the north under Ish-bosheth, and that of the south
under David. But
all the time David's kingdom was growing stronger, and
Ish-bosheth's kingdom was growing weaker.
After a time Abner was slain by one of David's men, and
at once Ish-bosheth's power dropped away. Then two men
of his army killed him, and cut off his head, and
brought it to David. They looked for a reward, since
Ish-bosheth had been king against David. But David
said, "As the Lord lives, who has brought me out of
trouble, I will give no reward to wicked men, who have
slain a good man in his own house, and upon his own
head. Take these two murderers away, and kill them!"
So the two slayers of the weak king, Ish-bosheth, were
punished with death, and the head of the slain man was
buried with honor. David had not forgotten his promise
to Saul to deal kindly with his children.