Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
The statue of Edward Colston being thrown into the Bristol harbour after its toppling. Credit BBC
The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
— 2 Samuel 1:19
Thus begins 'The Song of the Bow'1 that David sings and teaches to his men on receiving the news of Saul's death. David laments equally the death of his friend Jonathan, his (self-declared) enemy Saul, and the fall of the nation of Israel. It is all one to David. Where many would have celebrated the death of the man that stood between oneself and God's promise of the kingdom of Israel, David thinks only of Saul as God's chosen, disregarding his own status altogether. Where many would have blamed the father for the death of one's beloved friend, David thinks of Saul only as the loving father of that dear friend. David's heart is enormous with forgiveness, love and grief.
But the song is double-edged. Yes, Saul has fallen to the sword, and Israel has fallen to the Philistines, but both fell away from God long before that day. Is David lamenting the fall in battle or the fall in spirit? Perhaps both, but from our perspective across thousands of years it certainly seems that the greater fall was the spiritual one, and we know from Biblical history that this particular battle was just one episode in the great, ongoing saga of Israel falling further and further from God until just a remnant remains. David, as God's chosen king, loyal, righteous and insightful, perhaps senses this, and his beautiful song rises from his intuition of Israel's future, Saul and Jonathan being metaphors for the darker and lighter aspects of the nation. We'll never know, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility.
1 2 Samuel 1:19-27