The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 68: David at Ziklag
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Besides recovering all the spoil that had been taken from
Ziklag, David and his band had captured extensive flocks and
herds belonging to the Amalekites. These were called "David's
spoil;" and upon returning to Ziklag, he sent from this spoil
presents to the elders of his own tribe of Judah. In this distribution
all those were remembered who had befriended him
and his followers in the mountain fastnesses, when he had been
forced to flee from place to place for his life. Their kindness and
sympathy, so precious to the hunted fugitive, were thus gratefully
It was the third day since David and his warriors returned to
Ziklag. As they labored to restore their ruined homes, they
watched with anxious hearts for tidings of the battle which they [p. 695] knew must have been fought between Israel and the Philistines.
Suddenly a messenger entered the town, "with his clothes rent,
and earth upon his head." He was at once brought to David, before
whom he bowed with reverence, expressing recognition of
him as a powerful prince, whose favor he desired. David eagerly
inquired how the battle had gone. The fugitive reported Saul's
defeat and death, and the death of Jonathan. But he went beyond
a simple statement of facts. Evidently supposing that David must
cherish enmity toward his relentless persecutor, the stranger hoped
to secure honor to himself as the slayer of the king. With an air
of boasting the man went on to relate that during the battle he
found the monarch of Israel wounded, and sore pressed by his
foes, and that at his own request the messenger had slain him.
The crown from his head and the golden bracelets from his arm
he had brought to David. He confidently expected that these
tidings would be hailed with joy, and that a rich reward would
be his for the part that he had acted.
But "David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and
likewise all the men that were with him: and they mourned, and
wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son,
and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel;
because they were fallen by the sword."
The first shock of the fearful tidings past, David's thoughts
returned to the stranger herald, and the crime of which, according
to his own statement, he was guilty. The chief demanded of
the young man, "Whence art thou?" And he answered, "I am
the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. And David said unto him,
How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy
the Lord's anointed?" Twice David had had Saul in his power;
but when urged to slay him, he had refused to lift his hand
against him who had been consecrated by the command of God
to rule over Israel. Yet the Amalekite feared not to boast that
he had slain the king of Israel. He had accused himself of a
crime worthy of death, and the penalty was inflicted at once.
David said, "Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath
testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's anointed."
David's grief at the death of Saul was sincere and deep,
evincing the generosity of a noble nature. He did not exult in
the fall of his enemy. The obstacle that had barred his access to [p. 696] the throne of Israel was removed, but at this he did not rejoice.
Death had obliterated the remembrance of Saul's distrust and
cruelty, and now nothing in his history was thought of but that
which was noble and kingly. The name of Saul was linked
with that of Jonathan, whose friendship had been so true and
The song in which David gave utterance to the feelings of
his heart became a treasure to his nation, and to the people of
God in all subsequent ages:
"Thy glory, O Israel, is slain upon thy high places!|
How are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
Publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
Ye mountains of Gilboa,
Let there be no dew nor rain upon you, neither fields of
For there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away,
The shield of Saul as of one not anointed with oil. . . .
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet delicately,
Who put ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan is slain upon thy high places.
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
Very pleasant hast thou been unto me:
Thy love to me was wonderful,
Passing the love of women.
How are the mighty fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!"
|2 Samuel 1:19-27, R.V.|
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