Love Your Enemy

II Samuel 1

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
July 2021

How do you respond to people you don’t like?  What about who people who are mean to you and mistreat you, people who persecute you?  How do you respond when bad things happen to people who mistreat you and abuse you?

What almost all of us do is to feel good about it.  We would say, “That person had what was coming to them.  It served them right.  Justice was served.”

Jesus commands us in the NT to do the exact opposite.  He commands us love our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  That is not only hard to do, it does not seem to make much sense.

Today, we are going to see that this is not just a NT teaching.  It is in the OT.  David did this to his enemies in II Samuel 1 and we will see how he did this.  We just finished a study of I Samuel and saw some incredible lessons in that book.

We saw that God uses people the world rejects.  He chose someone who his older brother hated and despised.  He didn’t choose the oldest, which would have been chosen by the culture of the day.  He chose the youngest.

We saw that to be used by God, He has to prepare you.  God had to prepare Joseph.  He had to prepare Moses.  He had to prepare David.  David was chosen by God to be king and anointed by a prophet, but he did not become king for at least ten years.  He became a fugitive.

People were trying to kill him.  He was marked for death.  There was a bounty on his head, and he did not do anything wrong.  He had to go on the run for about ten years.  During those ten years, God had to prepare him for the job of king.

We saw that God can do impossible things through the one who believes, even kill a giant.  David faced a giant who terrified everyone else.

This giant was big and intimidating.  He mocked David and David’s God.  Because David had faith, he had confidence to stand against this giant.  He was bold.  He does not just kill Goliath; David cuts his head off.  He decapitates him and takes his sword.

Today, we begin the study of a new book of the Bible.  It is the book of II Samuel.  In our Bible, I & II Samuel are separate books.  In the Hebrew Bible, I & II Samuel are all one book.  They cover the lives of three men – Samuel, Saul and David.  I Samuel covers the reign of the first king of Israel (Saul).  II Samuel covers the reign of the second king of Israel (David).  David lived a thousand years before Jesus.

By the time we get to II Samuel, David is not just a kid killing a giant.  He is man.  He is thirty years old.  He is married and has two wives.  II Samuel covers the reign of King David, the reign of Israel’s greatest king.  This means the book covers forty-year period, because David ruled for forty years.

Relevance Today

Why is this book important for us?  Why do Christians today need to study this book today?

1) One of the most important covenants in the Bible is found in II Samuel.

It is the Davidic Covenant.  There are many covenants in the Bible.  God made a covenant with Noah.  He made a covenant with Abraham.  He made a covenant with Moses.  He also makes a covenant with David.  It is one of the most important covenants in the Bible.  We see it for the first time in II Samuel. What did God promise David in the Davidic Covenant?

One, He promised David that not only would he be king, but his kids would be king.  He promises David a dynasty, the Davidic dynasty.  David wanted to build a house for God.  Instead God builds a house for David.

Two, of his own descendants would be the promised Messiah.  God says that He will come from David’s body.  He will be a Son of David.  David was anointed to be king but there will be another “anointed one” coming who would be a descendant of David.

The word messiah means “anointed one.”  He will not just be anointed with oil by some old prophet.  He will be anointed by the Holy Spirit.

Three, the Messiah will establish His own kingdom.  II Samuel says that this kingdom will be on the earth.  It will not just be some type of heavenly, spiritual kingdom, like many preachers say.

Four, His kingdom will last forever.  It will not be taken away from Him, like it was taken away from Saul.  There will be no end to His rule.

2) II Samuel is a book that deals with the same problems that we see in our world today.

This is a very modern book.  It deals with some of the same things we see in our world today.

There is VIOLENCE. II Samuel is a violent book.  There is an execution in the first chapter.

There is CRIME (rape, murder, incest).

There is SEX. There is forbidden sex (adultery).

There is POLITICAL INSTABILITY (civil war, political revolution, assassination). David’s own son tries to take over his throne.

There are FAMILY PROBLEMS. We see bad parents and messed up kids in this book.  The kids follow the sins of the parents.  The father commits murder and the son commits murder.  One brother kills another brother.  There are dysfunctional families.

3) II Samuel shows the serious consequences of sin and the reality of forgiveness.

David was God’s Man.  He was the anointed king of Israel.  He was handpicked by God to be king. In II Samuel we will see what happens when this Man of God falls.  David commits rape.  He commits adultery and commits murder.  He suffers terrible consequences for these sins but when he repents, he also receives forgiveness.  That is an important lesson for us today.

David Gets Bad News

II Samuel is a continuation of I Samuel.  What is the background of the book?  David and Saul both went to battle on the same day.

David fought the Amalekites and Saul fought the Philistines.  David fought the Amalekites in the southern part of the country.  Ziklag is in southern Israel.  Saul fought the Philistines in the northern part of the country on Mount Gilboa in Galilee.  David won his battle and Saul lost his battle.

II Samuel begins THREE DAYS I Samuel ends.  In I Samuel 31, Saul dies.  In II Samuel 1, David finds out about it.  He gets the news of Saul’s death. There was not TV or Internet to watch.  There was no CNN.   He had to get the news by word of mouth.  Apparently, this was the first time David gets the message about Saul’s death and he gets it from an Amalekite.  II Samuel 1 raises an important question.

Does the Bible contradict itself?

Many people believe that the Bible is full of contradictions.  There are tons of them.  There are many passages that contradict each other, and critics say that II Samuel 1 is one of them.  Are they right?

The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically. 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”

But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. (I Samuel 31:3-5 NIV)

“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. 7 When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’

8 “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ “‘An Amalekite,’ I answered. 9 “Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’ 10 “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. (II Samuel 1:6-10 NIV)

Who really killed Saul?  One chapter says that Saul killed himself.   Another chapter says that an Amalekite killed him.  Which is correct? They both can’t be correct.  Does the Bible contradict itself?  No.

Do you honestly believe that anyone is dumb enough to write one chapter and then completely contradict himself in the very next chapter of the book? That would be preposterous.

I & II Samuel are not two different books of the Bible.  They are one book in Hebrew.  These I Samuel 31 and II Samuel 1 are probably written by the same person.

In I Samuel 31, the Israelites fought the Philistines.  Israel was losing.  Three of Saul’s four sons were killed.  The Israelites began to retreat (I Samuel 31:1).

Saul was hit by an arrow from a Philistine soldier.  He is critically wounded.  He could not fight, and he could not run.  He didn’t want the enemy to capture and kill him, so he asked his armor bearer to do it.

He did not ask an Amalekite to kill him.  He asked his armorbearer to kill him, but he refused, so Saul killed himself and it says that he was dead.  That is what I Samuel says.

In II Samuel 1, we get a different story. Saul is injured.  He tries to kill himself but is unsuccessful and asks an Amalekite to finish him off without any mention of the armorbearer.  There are several things about this story that don’t make much sense.

It seems a little strange that this man just happened to be in the neighborhood and ran into King Saul “by chance” (II Samuel 1:6 KJV).

What are the odds that this Amalekite was just out walking his dog, when he just happened to walk into the middle of a major battle between two of the largest armies of the day?

No, this Amalekite was not there by accident.  He was a graverobber.  He was there on purpose and took the crown off the dead body of King Saul.  He was out looking for spoils.

It seems a little strange in this situation that Saul would strike up a conversation with someone he had never met.  Saul was in extreme pain.  He was dying and he starts to engage in small talk with a complete stranger.  He probably never talked to Saul that day, although he may have witnessed his suicide from a distance.

It is strange that Saul did not mind being killed by an uncircimcized Amalekite but not by an uncircimcized Philistine.  That makes absolutely no sense.  The Amalekites were just as hated.  The Amalekites attacked the weakest Hebrews trying to escape Egypt. The Israelites were supposed to completely wipe out the Amalekites.

I Samuel 31 says Saul died by suicide.  It is inspired Scripture.  An Amalekite with ulterior motives said that Saul died another way.  We know that he had ulterior motives because David later said that he was expecting a reward (II Samuel 4:10). You can either believe what I Samuel 31 says or you can believe a pagan Amalekite.

The truth is that Saul did NOT die by an Amalekite.  He died by falling on his own sword.  The Amalekite was a liar.  Now the Bible does not say he was a liar but implies it.  David does not know it is a lie.  He takes what the man says at face value.

He had some evidence to support him.  He had Saul’s crown and bracelet.  That did not prove that he killed Saul, but it proved that he came from the battlefield.  It proved he was on the scene.  He was there.  He seemed to be a credible eyewitness.

David interrogate him.  He asked the man five questions.  He asked him what he saw and who he was and how he knew that Saul was dead.  The man says he just happened to be on the scene, saw the king who asked him to kill him.

He said he was an Amalekite (II Samuel 1:8).  If you remember from the last chapters of I Samuel, the Amalekites were the ones who just kidnapped his wives and kids and destroyed Ziklag.  They burned it to the ground. He had just finished killing a bunch of Amalekites.

Three Ways to Love your Enemy

What does this chapter say to us today?  David loved his enemy.  He demonstrated this in three ways.  What David did here, we are called to do today.

1) Show love for your enemy by your actions

David showed his love for his enemy by his ACTIONS.  David showed his love for Saul by having the man who claimed to kill him executed on the spot.  There was no trial.  He already confessed.

We know what David did not know.  We know that this Amalekite died because of a lie.  The man walked eighty miles with this news hoping he would be rewarded, and he was punished instead.

The Amalekite thought he could profit from a lie.  He thought he could get rich off of a lie, but he found that crime does not pay.  Deception rarely gets you what you want in the end.  If you die, you want it to because you tell the truth, not because you tell a lie.

David said, “Why weren’t you afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” “Your blood be on your own head. Your own mouth testified against you when you said, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’” (II Samuel 1:14, 16).

This man had no fear of doing this.  He said he was an alien (II Samuel 1:13).  He was not even a citizen of the country.  He was living in the land as an alien and had killed the king of the land. David says, “You did not just kill anybody.  You killed God’s Anointed; the man God handpicked to be the king of Israel.”

David says, “You did not just kill anybody.  You killed God’s Anointed; the man God handpicked to be the king of Israel.”

This is the one passage of the Bible that shows that euthanasia (mercy-killing) is unbiblical.  This man claimed that Saul wanted to be taken out of his misery and asked this Amalekite to kill him, but David treated what he did as murder.  Euthanasia is murder.  David clearly did not believe in euthanasia.

We are not to go about executing people today, but we should show love for our enemy by our actions.  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20 NIV)

2) Show love for your enemy by your emotions

David showed his love for his enemy by his EMOTIONS.  He is moved to tears.  He sobs publicly.  You expect him to mourn for his best friend Jonathon, but he also mourns for his enemy Saul.

Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and TORE THEM. 12 They MOURNED and WEPT and FASTED till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. (II Samuel 1:11-12 NIV)

This is strange.  It seems to make no sense.  Saul treated David horribly.  He was his own son-in-law.  He was married to Saul’s daughter and Saul persecuted David.  He tried to kill him about eleven times.  He sent troops after David.

He made David’s life miserable.  He forced him to leave his home and made him live on the run for ten years.  He forced him to go into hiding.  He always had to look behind his back.  His life was always in danger.

After he died, you expect him to be happy.  He no longer has to sleep in a cave.  He should be rejoicing.  Now, he gets to be king.  Now, he is not a wanted man.  Now, he can relax.  You expect him to be happy, but he is sad.  He mourns.

3) Show love for your enemy by your words

David showed his love for his enemy by his WORDS.  David wrote a lament for Saul.  David writes a poem or song about Saul and Jonathon.  David turned his words into music. David was not just a soldier and a politician; he was a musician, a poet and a writer.

He writes an ode to Saul and Jonathon.  He said, “They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions” (II Samuel 1:23 NIV). David not only mourned for Saul and Jonathon; he ordered the people to mourn them as well.  He required that their legacy be preserved, and their career celebrated.

David not only mourned for Saul and Jonathon; he ordered the people to mourn them as well.  He required that their legacy be preserved, and their career celebrated.

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, 18 and he ORDERED that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar (II Samuel 1:17-18 NIV)

This is actually very practical.  How do you respond when your enemy dies?  What do you say at a funeral of an unsaved person, someone who lived a wicked life? It may even be the funeral of a friend or family member.  At a funeral, even of an unsaved person, you can bring out the positive strengths of that person, as well as use it as an opportunity to preach the gospel.

David could have written a poem about Saul as a madman, a mentally unstable, psychotic, murderous, blood-thirsty, demon-possessed king.  It would have all been true.  He was that.  The Holy Spirit left him, and an evil spirit entered him.  Saul committed mass murder when he killed all of the priests and wiped out a whole town, but David did not say that.

Instead, he focused on Saul’s strengths: his courage and valor.  He said, “How the might have fallen!” (II Samuel 1:19, 25, 27 NIV). He extolled the might of Saul. Saul was a mighty man.  He brought prosperity to the nation (II Samuel 1:24).

He did not make Saul out to be better than he was.  He did not make him out to be some great saint or man of God.  That happens a lot at funerals, but he did emphasize some of his strengths.

It is interesting to me how politicized the world is in which we live.  When one president replaces another president, the road to the White House was so contentious that when they get there, they never say anything positive about their predecessor.

That is terrible.  Joe Biden has not said one positive thing about Donald Trump, even though he was about to get three vaccines for the country in a year.

 

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