Hearing with the Heart (II Samuel 1:1-16)
Topic: II Samuel Passage: 2 Samuel 1:1–1:16
Crying for a King
Hearing from the Heart
II Samuel 1:1-16
March 17th, 2013
(One Truth: Walk in Truth)
I. Name that Part
Okay, let's start with a short oral exam. I will say some kind of action, and I want you to tell me which part of a person is connected with that action. For example, I might say seeing, and then you would say.... “eyes”. Okay ready? Tasting? Right “mouth” or “tongue”. How about smelling? Right, “nose”. What about walking? Yes, “feet” and/or “legs”. Okay, what about this one: thinking? Good... “mind” or “brain”. What about feeling guilty? Yes, “conscience”.
Okay, here's an easy one: hearing. Well, “ears” would always be our first response, but this morning I want to suggest that “heart” would be an even better an answer.
This morning we begin our study in the book of II Samuel. Before we dive into the waters of II Samuel, let's do a quick review of what we find at the end of I Samuel (remember, in the original Hebrew, Samuel is one long book):
II. Review: Kings and Conflict
As we talked about last time, we know from the first half of the book that the king the Israelites demanded, Saul, has been rejected because of his failure to follow God's leadership. In place of Saul, God has raised up David, who is described in I Samuel 13:14 as “a man after God's own heart”. But instead of being repentant, Saul rages in bitterness, and He makes it his goal to kill David and eliminate this threat to his throne. And so for most of the second half of I Samuel, David is on the run, hiding in the southern deserts of Israel.
But turn first to I Samuel 28. Look at the first part of verse 1: In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel.
So this is the beginning of the section that flows right into our main passage this morning. But this looming battle with the Philistines has Saul scared. And so he decides to disobey God once again and go to a soothsayer or a medium to seek guidance from spirit of the prophet Samuel, who had died three chapters earlier. Look at 16-19. This is Samuel's response:
And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy?  The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me, for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David.  Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day.  Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”
At the same time, David is still in the south. Look at 30:1, 2:
Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire  and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. [now drop down to verse 17] And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled.  David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives.
If you look at the beginning of the next chapter, we discover that the battle with the Philistines is finally taking place. Look at verse 1:
Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.  And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul.  The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers.  Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.  And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him.  Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. (I Samuel 31:1-6)
So notice what is very clear here: David has nothing to do with the death of Saul. Not only is David almost a hundred miles to the south of where Saul's dies, but Saul actually takes his own life, because of fear, in the midst of the battle.
III. The Passage: “How is It You Were Not Afraid” (1:1-16)
So that brings us to the opening of II Samuel. Look with me at II Samuel 1.
A. David Hears the Message (vs. 1-10)
Let's start with the first ten verses:
After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.  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.  David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.”  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.”  Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”  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.  And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me.
And I answered, ‘Here I am.’  And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’  And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’  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.”
Now right away we know there's a problem. This is not how Saul died according to the previous chapter, according to I Samuel 31. There's something fishyt about this man's story, isn't there? But David doesn't know what really happened. All he knows is the version this man has relayed to him.
B. David Mourns the Message (vs. 11, 12)
And look at how he and his men respond to this message:
Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him.  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.
Even though these men were outcasts, even though these men had been living as fugitives, and branded as traitors, they still cannot help but grieve for their fallen king, and their fallen prince, and their fallen countrymen. But the story doesn't end here.
C. David Punishes the Messenger (vs. 13-16)
Look with me at verses 13 through 16:
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.”  David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?”  Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died.  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.’”
Okay, notice how the man answers David's question about his identity. First, he tells David that he is “the son of sojourner”. That means he is resident alien who has grown up among the people of Israel. But second, he also identifies himself as an Amalekite.
Now, it should have been clear from the verses we looked at from I Samuel that the Amalekites were no friend of the Israelites. Remember, David had just rescued his people from an Amalekite raiding party.
In fact, when Israel left escaped from Egypt with Moses, the Amalekites attacked the rear of their procession. In Deuternomy 25:18 God calls the people to remember how he [Amalek] attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God.
This is why Saul was called out to wipe out the Amalekites, to carry out God's judgment. But Saul didn't listen to God's command, as thus was judged himself.
So given what we know about the Amalekites, this man's motives are immediately suspicious. Since we know how Saul actually died, we can conclude that this man is nothing more than a greedy scavenger who must have found the dead king's body and taken the royal crown and armlet. He then concocted this story in order to make himself appear heroic, and all in order to win David's favor and maybe some kind of reward from the new king.
Remember, this Amalekite lived among the Israelites. He should have known better than to devise a story like this. You might recall that David would not kill Saul, even when he had the chance to do so. And Saul's armor-bearer would not kill him, even when Saul pleaded with him to do so. As David told one of his men when they had the drop on Saul, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD's anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Samuel 26:9). But even though his story is false, there are serious consequences for this man's greed and deception. But look how God uses David to bring his judgment against this man. He has confessed to killing God's anointed king, and he dies because of that very confession.
IV. After an Amalekite’s Own Heart?
As we think about this story, one of the questions I'd encourage you to ask yourself is this: “How would you expect David to receive a message like this?” Or maybe I should ask, “If you were David, how would you receive a message like this?”
Remember, even though David had been anointed king years earlier, he was not exalted in a royal robe. Instead he was exiled into the wilderness and clothed with shame. Even though David had defeated the Philistine giant and led the armies of Israel to victory time and time again, he was no longer celebrated as a hero. Instead, time and time again, he was sought as the hunted. The man who once fought the enemies of Israel was now labeled he enemy of Israel. His comrades-in-arms now took up arms against him.
He was given the king’s daughter for a wife, only to be driven from his home; only to have his wife given to another man in marriage. Instead of meeting the Philistine king as a royal equal, he had to seek asylum from his enemy, pretending to be a raving madman. No kingly bed, only dirt and rocks on which to lay his head. No royal court, only a band of outcasts and misfits. No royal procession, only hiding in caves. Condemned unjustly. Betrayed consistently. Suffering incessantly. And all of it with no end in sight. Can you imagine?
And who was to blame? Only one man: Saul.
And so how would you receive news of Saul’s death? Anyone would mourn the death of Jonathan. Anyone would mourn over a national defeat. But wouldn’t you be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief? Or better yet, wouldn’t you be tempted to celebrate the end of your exile? Better still, after all this time, after losing so much, wouldn’t you rejoice in the fact that a wicked and murderous king like Saul had finally felt the deadly blow of justice? Wouldn’t you honor the man who finished off the man who tried, over and over again, to finish YOU off? Wouldn’t you reward him for bringing you the very crown God promised you?
Which of us would not, after suffering in this way, be tempted in this way? And how many of us would not label these as ‘temptations’, but as an appropriate, a justifiable response?
But that isn’t David. Like all of us, David received this message through his ears, but he also, like all of us, heard the news with his heart. And what do we know about the kind of heart that David possesses? If he was described as “a man after God’s own heart”, couldn’t we say he had a godly heart? A God-centered heart? A God-informed heart? A God-exalting heart? Isn’t this what God saw when He told Samuel that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)?
What we see here is that David has responded, not with an eye to his own glory, but God’s glory; not with an eye to his own desires, but God’s agenda; not with an eye to his own rights, but God’s righteousness…God’s priorities…God’s love for His people.
Every day, every single one of us receives some kind of news: an urgent call from a friend, a confession from a spouse, a report from a doctor, a post or an e-mail from an associate, a letter from a creditor, a report from a newscaster, an update from a rival, gossip from a neighbor, news from a child. And when this or that message is brought to us, all of us ultimately hear with our hearts.
And so I have to ask you, as I have asked myself, “What does your response to these messages reveal about YOUR heart?” David’s heart was filled with grief and righteous zeal because his focus was on the good of others and the glory of God. But how often are we filled with fear, anger, jealously, bitterness, lust, and pride because our focus is on our own good, and our own glory? And when that happens, our response is anything but righteous.
If we’re honest with ourselves, aren’t we oftentimes more like this Amalekite, rather than David? We’re tempted to look for opportunities to advance our own good. And sometimes we’re willing to make up stories to move that agenda along. And because of this, without something changing, we WILL, like this Amalekite, also feel the deadly blow of justice.
But this passage should not only convict us. It should also comfort us. How? Why? Because the kind of king that is presented here was only a foretaste of a far greater king. If Israel was to have a human king, there only hope was to have a king who honored the Kingship of God above everything else. Did David do that well? Yes! Did David do that perfectly? No! And his people invariably suffered because of his failures.
But as we shall see in this book, God promised David an eternal kingdom. And God fulfilled that promise by sending an eternal king, Jesus Christ. Listen how Paul expresses it Acts 13:
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,  but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.  Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man [Jesus Christ] forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,  and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (13:36-39)
Only in Jesus was can we be set free from the kind of heart we might have anticipated in David and actually saw in the Amalekite. Only in Jesus can our hearts be changed.
The Amalekite ran to God’s anointed king with a heart full of greed and deception. May we, each day, run to God’s anointed knig with hearts full of humility and honesty. And when we receive all that Jesus died to give us, you will find you begin to hear with a very different heart, and your responses begin to change. Run…run to Jesus.