2 Samuel 1:2-16
It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth on his head…
On the day that Saul fell by his own hand, and before his body had been discovered by the Philistines, an Amalekite, passing by, recognised the corpse of the fallen king, and bethought him how best to turn the event to his own advantage. He determined to hasten to David, at Ziklag, and to inform him that, at the king's own request, he had consented to slay him, being persuaded that in any case he must perish, as his wounds were mortal. Thus he hoped to render himself acceptable to David, whose name doubtless was prominently mentioned in popular report as that of the coming king, and who was known moreover to have been injured by Saul. His professed cruelty, ingratitude, and falsehood earned for him, not a reward, but the penalty of death.
I. THAT OUTWARD APPEARANCES ARE DECEITFUL. How often are signs of sorrow thus assumed, when the heart within is joyful! How often is a cheerful countenance worn outwardly when the spirit within is broken! Scriptural phrases may be upon the lips of the ungodly, and falsehood may have a "goodly outside." The Lord alone can see into the heart, and can discern between the hypocritical and the sincere. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven."
II. THAT SYCOPHANTIC ADORATION OF THE FORTUNATE OUGHT NOT TO BE VALUED. The tendency of humanity is to worship the rising sun, to follow whatever fashion may be in vague, be it good or evil. If the inclinations of the leading personages of the day tend towards impiety, then the great mass of the people will be godless; if, on the other hand, the leaders of society condescend to extend their patronage to religion, then the people of the age become generally assiduous attendants on the ordinances of religion. Notwithstanding the genuflections of the Amalekite, David did not accord to him the welcome that he had expected.
III. THAT THOUGH EVIL COMMUNICATIONS CORRUPT GOOD MANNERS, ASSOCIATION WITH THE RIGHTEOUS DOES NOT MAKE RIGHTEOUS. This Amalekite came out of the camp of Israel. A worthy parent has often an unworthy child, a godly man is found in union with an ungodly friend.
IV. THAT GUILEFUL HEART MAKES CRAFTY TONGUE. There is a world of iniquity in the tongue, and we need to guard against the errors into which it leads us.
V. THAT SYCOPHANCY LEADS TO FALSEHOOD. There are three f's closely allied with each other — namely, flattery, fulsomeness, and fiction — that ought to be avoided by the Christian. There are three h's also related to each other, that he should strive to develop, namely humanity, honesty, and honour.
VI. THAT EVEN THE MOST HARDENED CRIMINAL TRIES TO PALLIATE HIS OFFENCE. We all attempt to make excuses for our faults and failings, to soften down our guilt, to palliate our offences, to lay cur' sins at the door of others. Is it fear, or a relic of man's better nature, that thus induces men to desire to exculpate themselves in some degree from their crimes? Who can tell? God alone, who "trieth the hearts."
VII. THAT THE MOST INGENIOUS EXCUSES, AFTER A STATEMENT HAS BEEN DELIBERATELY MADE, CANNOT INVALIDATE THE FORCE OF THAT STATEMENT. Noting, doubtless, that David was indignant at his treason, the Amalekite answers, when asked by David, "Whence art thou?" "I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite." So futile will be our excuses in the Judgment Day; so vain, indeed, are they often found to be now, even in the light of conscience, not to say in the sight of God.
VIII. THAT DECEIT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION SOONER OR LATER. "How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?" No subterfuges or cunningly devised fables can deceive the Almighty, or can prevent Him from giving to every man according to his works. "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile." "Is not destruction to the wicked, and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?"
IX. THAT HE WHO HAS SOWN THE WIND MUST EXPECT TO REAP THE WHIRLWIND, Saul, contrary to the Divine command, spared a certain portion of the Amalekites, instead of destroying them utterly, as it had been determined, for their sins, that they should be thus severely punished. This very Amalekite may have been one of the captives thus spared; and lo! he comes now in triumph, as it were, in the death of the king whose mercy to the nation of the Amalekites had led to the ruin of Saul himself. "Thus, of our pleasant vices the gods make instruments to scourge us with." "He that pursueth evil, pursueth it to his own death."
X. THAT THE PATH OF HONOUR IS THE PATH OF REAL SUCCESS. In selfishness we often injure self, and with a most shortsighted policy sacrifice a glorious and eternal future for a paltry and fleeting present.
(R. Young, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
WEB: it happened on the third day, that behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul, with his clothes torn, and earth on his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.