2 Samuel 1:17, 23-25 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, … “… Saul and Jonathan – in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold. How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights.”
The thing that marked David off as the greatest King Israel ever had (apart from Jesus, that is) was his selfless commitment to GOD’s agenda for the kingship. The king of the LORD’s covenant people was to be in every way the LORD’s faithful representative among them.
The downfall of all the other kings, including Saul, was always related to an attitude of independence, an I-AM-THE-KING approach to their task. By contrast, David continually acknowledged his dependence on God and expressed his willingness to submit to GOD’s sovereign will in all things. This even shows itself in his lament on hearing of the death of Saul and Jonathan. His praise of his predecessor was focussed on what Saul REPRESENTED as God’s king to the people, not what he actually WAS in practice. David’s refusal to capitalise on ‘God-given’ opportunities to kill Saul (1 Samuel 24:4-7; 26:8-9), and his anger at the Amalekite who sought David’s favour by (falsely, see 1 Samuel 31:4) claiming to be Saul’s assassin (2 Samuel 1:5-16), both bear out this same point.
In this way David foreshadowed the perfect King who would say, “I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).
As we are given positions of leadership among God’s people, do we reflect this same submissive servant attitude? “From Heaven, you came helpless babe, entered our world, your glory veiled, not to be served but to serve and give your life that we might live. This is our God, the Servant King, he calls us now to follow him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King. … So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone him; each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving” (Graham Kendrick).
– Bruce Christian