9/10 How the Mighty Have Fallen!

Lighthouse Leader Study Guide

Date: September 10, 2017

Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 1:1-27

This Week’s Printable Resources:


Overview of this Lesson

This week we begin our new study of 2 Samuel. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Samuel was one book, and you can see that 2 Samuel picks up right where 1 Samuel ended. David is returning from a skirmish with the Amalekites near his home base of Ziklag in Southern Judah. We pick up the story with David hearing of Saul and Jonathan’s death from a young Amalekite.

The theme of this week’s lesson is grieving. We will observe David grieving a lot as we journey through 2 Samuel. Yes, David becomes king of Israel, but his life continues to be filled with conflict, turmoil, and unspeakable tragedy…much of it David’s own doing.

The Bible doesn’t hide the raw emotion of life from us. Yes, there are lessons we can learn about how to live life, but there are just as many (if not more) examples in 2 Samuel about how not to live life. We will witnesses David live and reign as a king “after God’s own heart,” but we will also see David unable to control the lust he has for women and how this tragically impacts not only his own family, the families of others.

As we observe David this week come to terms with the death of Saul and Jonathan, we can learn from his example about how to grieve in a healthy way. Like death, grieving can be a very uncomfortable topic for many of us, including those who are grieving. Yet, as we will see this week, there are ways to grieve that bring healing as well as ways to grieve that bring us down to destruction.

Memory Verse for This Week

And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword – 2 Samuel 1:12.

Core Belief: Compassion

Compassion (Psalm 82:3-4): We believe God calls all Christians to show compassion to those in need.


Introduction

  • How do people react whenever a winning team gloats over a victory?
  • How do you feel when someone who treated you poorly and caused you much grief suddenly dies?
  • Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.

This Week’s Take Home Truth

Pride plays no favorites. It cripples and ripples without regard to position, power, or past.

Read the Text (2 Samuel 1:27)

With this report of Saul’s death, we begin a new unit in the books of Samuel continuing through 2 Samuel 5:10. The twelve tribes of Israel do not univocally declare David king after the death of Saul. In general, David controls the south, particularly Judah and its politically important central city, Hebron. But Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth becomes king of the northern tribes, often referred to simply as “Israel.” Read 2 Samuel 1-27.

2 Samuel 1:1-2:7

David Hears of Saul’s Death

1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. 2 And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. 3 David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” 5 Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” 6 And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. 7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ 10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”

11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13 And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” 14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD’s anointed?” 15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. 16 And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD’s anointed.’ ”

David’s Lament for Saul and Jonathan

17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he said it should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. He said:

19 “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!

20 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 uncircumcised exult.

21 “You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fields of offerings! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.

22 “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.

23 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions.

24 “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! “Jonathan lies slain on your high places.

26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.

27 “How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”

Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.

Summarize briefly what is happening in 2 Samuel 1.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, there is no division in the book of Samuel. 2 Samuel in our Bible follows immediately after 1 Samuel 31, in which we see Saul and Jonathan die in battle.

David is returning to his home base in Ziklag following a battle of his own described in 1 Samuel 30. Ziklag is approximately 80 miles south of where Saul died, or a three-day journey.

David has received no news from the battle and does not know Saul and Jonathan are dead. When he learns of their death from the Amalekite, David enters a period of grieving and public mourning for Israel’s king and his sons. A poet and musician, David pours his anguish into a lamentation called “The Song of the Bow.”

Do you think the young Amalekite was telling the truth or lying? Why?

If there is a character trait we have learned about David thus far, it is his deep respect and reverence for the Lord’s Anointed. In this case, King Saul. David had many opportunities to kill Saul, but he refused because David acknowledged that Saul was placed in his position of leadership by the Lord. David would not touch the Lord’s Anointed.

Obviously, this kind of thinking is very counter cultural. From a human perspective, we see authority and leadership as man-made institutions, but the Bible is clear that all authority is established by God Himself, and as servants of the Lord, we are to respect the authority He has put in place.

But, again, this is counter cultural. Most, including our young Amalekite friend in this week’s text, assume that we will take any opportunity that presents itself to rid ourselves of opposition to our own power and authority. He runs hard and fast to be the first to reach David. He is carrying Saul’s crown and bracelet, two of the identifiable symbols of Saul’s kingly authority. To sweeten the deal, he calculates that by placing himself in the position of the one who rid David of his hated enemy, he will receive double the reward.

As you read the end of 1 Samuel and the beginning of 2 Samuel, you will immediately spot the contradiction. The Bible says that Saul ended his own life by falling on his sword after being gravely wounded (1 Samuel 31:4). The Amalekite tells David that he mercifully killed Saul after Saul asked him to do so.

Someone is lying. Either the Bible got the story of Saul’s death wrong, or the Amalekite has it wrong. Who do you believe? How can we know?

I like how Dale Ralph Davis answers this question: “The solution is simple: the Amalekite lied. If you ever have a choice between the (Bible) narrator and an Amalekite, always believe the narrator. Have you ever met an Amalekite you could trust?”

How would you define or describe grief and mourning?

In simple terms, grief or mourning is the natural emotional response to the death of a family member, close friend, or even a public figure. (For example, the country grieved deeply following the murder of John F. Kennedy in Dallas in November 1963.)

While deeply painful, the process of grief helps us to rightfully mourn and ultimately recover from the loss of someone that has importance to us. At the same time, as we will see, grief can also become unhealthy and even life-ending if we do not grieve properly.

June Hunt describes three stages of grief:

Crisis Stage: This can last from two days to two weeks. In this stage of grief, you carry out your daily activities in a mechanical manner. This is the stage we often witness at a funeral.

Crucible Stage: This can last up to a year or two or more, perhaps even until death if grief is not resolved. Characteristics include: anger/resentment, loneliness/isolation, anguish, self-pity, bargaining with God, intense yearning, depression/sadness, and guilt/false guilt.

Contentment Stage: This stage accepts the loss, leaving it in the past. This stage not only accepts that the present offers stability, but also accepts that the future offers new and promising hope (Philippians 3:13; 4:11).

(June Hunt, Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook: Providing Biblical Hope and Practical Help for 50 Everyday Problems (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2008).)

What can we learn grief from David’s response to the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death?

The Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami, is quoted as saying, “Death is not the opposite of life, it is part of it.” Some die too young, while others (by their own admission) live too long. Death is not an accident, it is an appointment (Hebrews 9:27).

Peter Marshall, the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, tells the following story that underscores this point:

An old legend tells of a merchant in Bagdad who one day sent his servant to the market. Before very long the servant came back, white and trembling, and in great agitation said to his master: “Down in the market place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd, and when I turned around I saw that it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Master, please lend me your horse, for I must hasten away to avoid her. I will ride to Samarra and there I will hide, and Death will not find me.”

The merchant lent him his horse and the servant galloped away in great haste.

Later the merchant went down to the market place and saw Death standing in the crowd. He went over to her and asked, “Why did you frighten my servant this morning? Why did you make a threatening gesture?”

“That was not a threatening gesture,” Death said. “It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

Each of us has an appointment in Samarra. But that is cause for rejoicing—not for fear, provided we have put our trust in Him who alone holds the keys of life and death. (Peter Marshall, John Doe, Disciple: Sermons for the Young in Spirit, ed. Catherine Marshall (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), 219–20.)

We can learn four lessons from David’s grieving over the death of Saul and Jonathan:

  1. David accepts the reality of Saul and Jonathan’s death. David doesn’t ask God why this happened or dig for deeper meaning or justification, he accepts what has happened. He opens his lament with, “The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!” This is reality, and David embraces it.
  2. David doesn’t hide his emotions or his grieving. As is the custom in Hebrew culture, David tears his clothing, weeps, and fasts as an outward expression of mourning. Too often in American culture, we find outward expressions of emotion uncomfortable and unwelcomed. Letting our emotions show is a part of accepting the reality of what has happened.
  3. David turns his attention away from himself and towards others. When bad things happen, this is difficult for many of us to do. Grieving often leads to isolation and loneliness as we struggle with what has happened. First, David turns his grieving into a song, and then he commands that others teach this to their children. David’s actions have two benefits: he gives the families with him something to do and something to focus on, and he takes the lesson of Jonathan and Saul’s death and converts it into a learning experience. (Saul was killed by the skilled archers (1 Sam. 31:3.)
  4. David looks to the future. After a proper time of grieving and public mourning, 2 Sam. 2:1 tells us, “after this that David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go up to any of the cities of Judah?’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Go up.’” In his grieving, David did not forget his calling, and the Lord had much for David to do.

What are the signs of healthy versus unhealthy grieving?

Many of us have watched helplessly as a friend or loved one disappeared into overwhelming grief. Here are some signs June Hunt says to look for if you suspect someone is having difficulty moving through the stages of grief:

  • Chronic Grief: This is an unresolved, deep sorrow experienced over a long period of time due to not accepting or not experiencing closure over a significant loss. The personal pain is buried so deeply the ability to experience real grief and let go of the loss is blocked. Chronic grief can be resolved by facing the loss and grieving it. Look for signs of isolation, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.
  • Repressed Grief: This is an unidentified, unexpressed, unresolved grief exhibited in unexplainable negative lifestyle patterns. A sign to look for with repressed grief is angry outbursts towards those trying to help.

Both of these responses are rooted in a personals inability to accept what has happened to them.

Concurrently, here are the signs of healthy grieving and growing acceptance of what has happened:

  • Accept the Past as Always Being in the Past
  • Accept the Present as Offering Stability and Significance
  • Accept the Future as Affording New Opportunities

How can we best minister to someone who is in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one or close friend?

Heidi Warner provides some practical ways you can help someone who is grieving:

Ministering to someone in grief can be overwhelming but in reality, much simpler than we realize.

First, just showing up is important. Grief often scares people away because they don’t know what to say or how to handle the situation. The best thing we can say is “I don’t know what to say.” Attempts at empathy – “I know what you are going through” are often hurtful if you, in fact, haven’t been through what your grieving friend has been through. Even acts of kindness – bringing food even months afterward or sending flowers unexpectedly can be powerful encouragements.

If your grieving friend is a believer, the best prayer and encouragement to your friend is that they will feel the reality of Christ’s presence with them. Often we rush to remind grieving friends that “God works all things out for the best of those who love Him.” While this is indeed true and likely to be comforting at some point, in the initial rawness of grief, this is a difficult truth to process. Instead, remind them of Christ with them, his Holy Spirit equipping us to walk the life that he has called us to. It is this personal relationship with Christ – more than any theological concept – that will provide them comfort and hope.

Give your grieving friend space to share hard and difficult thoughts about God and about the situation. Don’t rush to correct them if they are feeling abandoned by God or that God didn’t hear their prayers. The psalms of lament record David sharing deep anguish and feelings of abandonment by God. If God cared enough to record these prayers then he can certainly handle our own psalms of lament. Indeed, it is this process of putting words to our sorrow, pain and struggles with God that lets us move through the pain into healing and hope. Instead, encourage your friend to prayerfully communicate these feelings to God. Remind them that God can handle it and that you are confident that God himself will meet them in their pain.

Remember that our job as friends isn’t to get our grieving friends back to “normal.” Our job is to walk with them through the pain, accept their messy process, remind them that God can handle their emotions and he has not left them.

Our grieving friends will have to create a new normal, a new narrative of their life and of their faith that includes deep loss and tragedy. They have been changed by their deep grief and the best gift we can give them is acceptance and support as they adjust.

Don’t be afraid to share that you are praying and thinking about your grieving friend. Someone once shared that they were afraid to ask me how I was doing after the loss of our daughter because they didn’t want to bring it up if I wasn’t thinking about it. Grief is never far from the mind of someone who has lost a loved one and it is those out of the blue reminders that they are not forgotten that are often the most meaningful. Even if your grieving friend has pulled back from your friendship, sending cards, emails and general expressions of prayer and encouragement are very meaningful.

Finally, prayerful grace is the best gift we can give our grieving friends–prayer that they will come to know Christ and his comfort more fully and grace for when they are struggling, hurting and even hurtful.

Concluding Thoughts

These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.

Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?

Becoming A House of Prayer

“Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices; Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” – Isaiah 56:7.

Prayer Focus:

Set aside a portion of your Lighthouse for prayer.

  • Pray for our Lighthouses starting this week. May these groups model the community of Acts 2.
  • Pray for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or close friend.
  • Pray for the children in our church who are struggling with long-term illness.
  • Pray for our children’s ministry leaders and many volunteers.
  • Pray for Gov. Reynolds and our state and local government leaders.
  • Ask the Lord to give First Family people the opportunity to share their faith today.
  • Pray for Pastor Steve and the team planting Life Change Church on October 1.

Coming Dates This Fall:

9/10/2017 – Lighthouse Fall Semester Begins

9/16/2017 – Disaster Training

9/23/2017 – Men’s Workshop on Sexual Purity

10/01/2017 – Life Change Church Launch Day

10/15/2017 – Begin 40 Days of Prayer

10/25/2017 – Mobilization Conference Begins

10/27/2017 – 2017 GO Trip Reports

10/29/2017 – Guest Speaker: Ray Chang

10/29/2017 – International Dinner & Commissioning

10/30/2017 – Lighthouse Midterm Break; No Groups the week of 10/30/2017

11/05/2017 – Daylight Savings Time Ends

11/05/2017 – Fireside Chats Begin

11/13/2017 – Operation Christmas Child; 11/13 – 11/20

11/19/2017 – Harvest Offering

11/19/2017 – Thanksgiving Night of Worship

11/23/2017 – Thanksgiving Day; Church Facilities Closed

11/24/2017 – 40 Days of Prayer Ends

11/29/2017 – Fall Wednesday Night Ministries End

12/09/2017 – Kids’ Christmas Musical

12/24/2017 – Christmas Eve at First Family

12/25/2017 – Christmas Day

12/31/2017 – New Year’s Eve Day; Ankeny: 10:00 am | Bondurant: 10:00 am

01/01/2018 – New Year’s Day

01/07/2018 – Lighthouse Spring Semester Begins

Fall Teaching Schedule:

09/10/17 – 2 Samuel 1:1-27

David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan.

09/17/17 – 2 Samuel 2:1-4:12

David becomes King of Judah; Civil War in Israel.

9/24/27 – 2 Samuel 5

David becomes King of Israel; War with the Philistines.

10/01/17 – 2 Samuel 6

David seeks to bring the ark to Jerusalem.

10/08/17 – 2 Samuel 7

The Davidic Covenant.

10/15/17 – 2 Samuel 8-10

David consolidates his kingdom.

10/22/17 – 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25

David’s great sin that brings destruction to his family.

10/29/17 – Guest Speaker

International Dinner (No Groups)

11/05/17 – 2 Samuel 12:26-13:39

Nathan rebukes David for his sin; David repents; the rape of David’s daughter, Tamar.

11/12/17 – 2 Samuel 14-15

The Parable of Two Sons; Absalom rebels against David.

11/19/17 – 2 Samuel 16-17

Absalom captures Jerusalem, lies with David’s concubines to show his contempt for his father.

11/26/17 – 2 Samuel 18

Civil War between Absalom and David. Joab kills Absalom. David mourns the death of his son.

12/03/17 – 2 Samuel 19-21

David is restored to the throne, but conflict and turmoil continue to plague David.

12/10/17 – 2 Samuel 22:1-23:7

David nears the end of his life as conflict and turmoil continue.

12/17/17 – 2 Samuel 23:8-24:25

David’s last words; David sins again and the Lord judges Israel; 70,000 die from a plague.

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