Saul died . . . and his three sons with him.
If you are familiar with the story of his life, you may have mixed emotions, especially about Saul’s passing. He had, at times, disobeyed God, evoking divine anger. Meanwhile, his jealousy toward David had created within him a bitterness that caused him to want to see David dead.
What kind of emotion, then, would David feel about his death?
The Amalekite who came bearing news to David of Saul’s death must have thought it would cause David joy . . . or perhaps that he would be rewarded for the role he played. Although his participation in the final moments of Saul’s life is not outlined in 1 Samuel 31, he claimed to have been the one responsible for giving the final life blow to the former king. (If that is indeed the way it happened, it is somehow ironic that an Amalekite would take his life. After all, God had instructed Saul to totally kill off the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15, but he had refused.) At a minimum, this man brought David the royal crown and armlet.
David’s response was much different, however. Rather than finding joy in the death of Saul, he grieved deeply. He respected Saul as the Lord’s anointed. David found value in him in spite of how he had treated David. Similarly, rather than rewarding the man who claimed responsibility for the ultimate death of his “enemy,” David had the Amalekite executed.
David, you see, exemplifies for us what it means to “love our enemies.” He lived out Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 5:44, 45, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” He demonstrated what it is like to practice the words of Proverbs 25:21, 22, “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.”
How do you treat your enemies?