We might expect to find David rejoicing when he received news of the death of his nemesis, Saul.
“The people have fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also,” (1:4).
But instead he expresses some very unlikely responses.
- Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so also did all the men who were with him. 12 They mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan and for the people of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword, (1:11-12).
- Then David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” (1:14).
- “Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
How have the mighty fallen!” (1:19).
- “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life,” (1:23).
I was left wondering… How is it David mourned, for Saul? How is it David was offended by the one claiming credit for Saul’s death; Saul who had been so intent on David’s own death and destruction? How is it David could describe Saul as Israel’s beauty? How is it David would refer to Saul as beloved and pleasant in life?
And one answer came. David was a man after God’s own heart, demonstrating God’s Heart toward the Wicked.
Consider His Heart toward the Wicked
- His Heart toward the Wicked is that they turn to Him and live.
- “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23).
- His Heart toward the Wicked is patient.
- But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:8-9).
How do we respond to His Heart toward the Wicked?
It can be painfully challenging to live our Christian faith in today’s world. As we face scrutiny, ridicule, harassment and even persecution for claiming the Name of Christ, we must choose to consider His Heart toward the Wicked.
David mourned Saul’s death as an attack against the people God loved and redeemed. David chose to allow God to shape his thoughts concerning Saul, and by faith, David trusted God’s sovereignty. Saul was God’s anointed leader until the time God would remove him.
David was a man after God’s own heart.
The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, (1 Samuel 13:14).
And it was God’s Heart David demonstrated toward Saul. Let us also demonstrate God’s Heart toward the Wicked.
- We can demonstrate God’s Heart toward the Wicked as we remember we too were once in the same wicked state.
- .…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light, (Ephesians 5:8).
- We can demonstrate God’s Heart toward the Wicked as we recall His love and sacrifice exhibited while we were yet wicked sinners.
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).
- We can demonstrate God’s Heart toward the Wicked as we reflect on His kindness towards us in leading us to repentance.
- Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).
Let us leave judgment in His hands. May we always come to Him in humility and gratitude; and let us pray for the wicked that they too might come to know His Heart toward the Wicked through His kind gift of repentance.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men… 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, (1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4).