2 Samuel 1:25
How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
Sermons
The Dirge of the MightyJ. Silvester, M. A.2 Samuel 1:25
The Fall of the MightyB. Wallin.2 Samuel 1:25
David's Lamentation Over Saul and JonathanD. Fraser 2 Samuel 1:19-27


Tell it not in Gath, etc. A poetical deprecation; for already had it been told among the Philistines, and triumphed over; and yet would be. The language expresses David's sorrow at the joy of the Philistines, and its cause. The words have often been used to express the concern of good men when Christians give occasion to the enemies of Christ's kingdom to rejoice.

I. THE OCCASIONS OF SUCH JOY.

1. In general, the misfortunes of the Church, whatever hinders its advancement or causes reversal.

2. In particular, the inconsistencies of professing Christians. It is amazing how men will gloat over the occasional lapses of Christians into sins which they are themselves habitually committing. Still it is a serious enhancement of the guilt of such lapses that they cause "the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" (2 Samuel 12:14).

3. Contentions and divisions among Christians. When these are rife, the world is apt to exclaim in scorn, "See how these Christians love one another!"

4. Failures in their work.

II. THE CAUSES OF SUCH JOY.

1. Hatred of God and goodness. To "rejoice in iniquity" is a sure sign of this; and to rejoice in the enfeebling of the power which most of all tends to its subjugation - the power of Christian life and teaching - is scarcely less so. It is a diabolical joy.

2. The encouragement in sin which is derived from the faults of good men. Sinners feel as if justified in their own sins when Christians fall into them; their guilty consciences are relieved. As if sin in themselves were less sinful because practised by those who profess to have renounced it; or as if the Law of God, Which condemns the Christian's occasional sins, did not at least equally condemn the habitual sins of others. Rather should they remember that the knowledge of the evil of sin by which they condemn others is to their own condemnation (Romans 2:1, 3). They ought, therefore, to take warning instead of indulging satisfaction.

III. HOW CHRISTIANS SHOULD BE AFFECTED BY IT.

1. They should be careful not needlessly to publish that which will produce it. "Tell it not," etc. Not needlessly; for ofttimes secrecy is impossible, sometimes it would be injurious. We must not deny facts, nor palliate sin, to prevent the triumph of enemies. But we ought not to eagerly announce to the world the occurrences which tend to our humiliation and their exultation.

(1) For the sake of those who would exult. That they may not add to their sins by their unholy joy, nor become more hardened in them.

(2) Lest we should put stumbling blocks in the way of feeble Christians; or

(3) discourage our brethren in their conflicts with evil; or

(4) lessen the power of the testimony of the Church on the side of Christ and holiness.

2. They should be still more careful so to live as to give no occasion for such exultation. "That by well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

3. They should in no degree imitate it. Which they do when they rejoice at any scandal which arises in another Church that they regard as a rival, or at failure on its part in efforts to do good. Christian love "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth," and will be grieved at sin wherever it may be found, and at the failure of Christian work by whomsoever it may be done. - G.W.









How are the mighty fallen.
"How are the mighty fallen" — the words sound in our ears like a deep undertone in some mournful harmony. The warrior-bard is celebrating the memory of a king and a king's son — warriors themselves of no mean prowess, "swifter than eagles, stronger than lions," the crown and glory of their land. Yet ever and anon we hear that sad refrain — the knell of their departed greatness, "How are the mighty fallen!"

1. "How are the mighty fallen!" It is the doleful dirge of human history through all time, the monument of many a blasted reputation, the brief but telling epitaph of a thousand wrecked lives. A statesman engaged in the service of' his country, honoured as a public minister of his sovereign, a maker of laws in the Senate and a ruler of men in the State, is overtaken in a career of baseness unworthy of the meanest citizen. Indeed, the greater the eminence, the deeper and deadlier the fall. The clergyman who ought to set forth God's Word by preaching and living too often only negatively illustrates the truth he preaches, and furnishes a warning rather than an example. The trusted guide along the heavenly heights reveals by his fall the yawning gulf to which every traveller is exposed, and against which he himself gave men warning. A tradesman exchanges the counting-house and the shop for the dock and the cell. Another scene rises before my eyes. There sits one in dust and ashes who has lost the glory of woman. The unmanliness of a man has betrayed her too frail virtue. The flower that might have bloomed long days to come lies uprooted, withered, dead. She who was once belie of the social circle, "the observed of all observers," is now an outcast. Thus and thus in so many instances "how are the mighty fallen!" But in all such cases was there not a cause? The open disgrace, like the death of Saul, only marks and manifests the-consummation and the consequences of sin. For we may be sure the heart was wrong long before the life betrayed itself. The mountain of fire long held in its awful depths the springs of death before it belched forth the liquid molten flood, bringing devastation and destruction over the land. If you could trace the inner history of these fallen ones of the mighty you would find Saul's disobedience repeated. They made their own will and pleasure the standard of their moral conduct, and though at first this was only seen by God, self-enlarged its desire till its baseness was laid bare before the world. Life apart from God was the beginning of evil, actual conflict with God's will and law, the development of it, and abandonment by God to the devil's devices the end thereof. "They chose not to retain God in their knowledge, and so He gave them up to their own hearts' lusts and let them follow their own imaginations." The leaking drop has become at last a wide breaking in of waters and ruin is in the breach. It is the poet's touching tale —

"the little rift within the lute,

Which by-and-bye will make the music mute,

And ever widening slowly silence all."See then that your heart is right with God and your desires centred in Him. The heart that "is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" will deceive you, if you do not yield it unto God, who alone can know it, who alone can renew it in holiness after His own image.

2. But there are several considerations that will hold us back from exulting over these fallen ones of society —(1) Let us remember that they have carried many down with them in their fall. Men may sin alone but they cannot suffer alone. "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself," and the thought of our relations with others should act as a motive to deter us from sin. The husband suffers with the wife, parents with children, brother with sister, friend with friend. Saul, the foe of David, involves Jonathan, David's friend, in his own fall.

2. But again, remember that though these fallen sinners are banished from the world's society, Christ will receive them, if they will not in pride and obstinacy of heart sink to a yet greater depth. It is still true of Him that "He receiveth sinners and eateth with them." God takes the world's castaways and gives them — weary of sin and broken in heart — an inheritance in His house, and often as our Lord said, the publican and the harlot go into the kingdom of God before the self-righteous.

3. Notice the concluding words of our text, "How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!" Such language may fitly teach, as by a parable, the solemn lesson that the conflict of evil with good, of darkness with light, is still raging around us, and that our danger is not past. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Let us, then, utterly distrustful of self, find our strength, our safety, our all, in Jesus, and cleave ever unto Him. Let us "go forth in the strength of the Lord God, and make mention of His righteousness, even His righteousness only."

(J. Silvester, M. A.)

The mighty, you know, are the puissant and great; and persons may be styled mighty on account of their birth, station, abilities, or noble exploits. This title is given in common to the kings, princes, and nobles of the earth: but the term is more peculiarly adapted to persons of s military profession, and fitly sets forth a champion or general experienced in war. They are properly mighty who are justly renowned for their valour and skill, like the princes of Israel, recorded in 1 Chronicles 26. And this idea of the word agreeth with the character of those whose decease David mourns. "How are the mighty fallen!" Fallen indeed! Not merely fallen. A general may fall from his horse, or by a dangerous wound. But from such falls the mighty may recover, rise up again, speak with the enemy, and gloriously triumph in the end. The mighty are fallen; fallen like Sisera (Judges 5:27) fallen down dead. This is his sorrowful dirge! 'Tis added, "And the weapons of war perished!" I cannot be of opinion that this is to be taken in a literal sense, as though the loss of these instruments of war, properly speaking, grieved the soul of the Psalmist. Could the value of any number of weapons which can with reason be supposed to be broken or lost on this fatal defeat, demand so deep a lamentation; and especially after weeping over the mighty themselves, who were famous for handling the instruments of battle with skill and success? It seems evident to me that David concludes the elegy with a figure, under which he describes those eminent persons whose fall he bewails. The mighty who are fallen, and the weapons of war, are one and the same.

I. CONSIDER THE FACT, namely, that the noblest of princes, or the most valiant and honourable of the earth, are liable to fall. Death reigns over all without distinction, under the prince of life, our exalted Saviour, who is alive from the dead, anti hath the keys of the grave. Crowns and sceptres, thrones and palaces, and the whole force of the mighty, secure them not for an hour; yea, not for a moment from the domination of darkness.

II. REASONS FOR GREAT LAMENTATION WHEN A MIGHTY MAN FALLS.

1. That when the mighty fall, in proportion to their zeal, puissance, and highness, the glory of a people is departed.

2. By the fall of the mighty the strength of a people is impaired, which is another reason for mourning when such are removed. The mighty, in proportion to their rank and activity, for the welfare of the public, are the defence of a nation.

3. The known disposition of the enemies of a land to rejoice, and to avail themselves of the loss a people sustain when their mighty men die, is a further reason for mourning their fall. On this account we have seen David enjoin it on Israel, not to spread the melancholy report of Jonathan and Saul.

4. Individuals have just cause of mourning the fall of great men, on account of the general grief that spreads through the nation. Under such awful strokes the land mourns, and every one who seeks its prosperity is sensibly afflicted.

II. Since the mighty fall, and die, as other men, and since the most noble and valiant are liable thus suddenly to perish, LET US TAKE HEED THAT WE DO NOT PLACE AN ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE UPON THEM. Under God, there is a just expectation and confidence in wise and good princes: we see they are in some measure the glory and defence of a land; and are doubtless to be honoured and trusted; yet, since they must die, and may be cut down in a moment, our ultimate hope should not be in them. This also shows it to be foolish and vain for great men to exalt themselves as though they were gods, and the baseness of those sycophants who at any time flatter them; such instances are upon record. In one word, when the mighty fall, how vain is this world in its best estate, how uncertain and transitory its honour and beauty l The advantages gained by the exploits of the greatest men on earth are temporal, but one thing is needful, an interest in the triumphs of the cross, and the redemption obtained by the blood of the Son of God.

(B. Wallin.)

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