I’ve enjoyed writing the devotional posts through Ephesians, and I intend to continue contributing those types of posts. This one comes from my quiet time this morning; 2 Samuel 1:19-25.
The splendor of Israel lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen! Do not tell it in Gath, don’t announce it in the marketplaces of Ashkelon, or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, and the daughters of the uncircumcised will celebrate. Mountains of Gilboa, let no dew or rain be on you, or fields of offerings, for there the shield of the mighty was defiled–the shield of Saul no longer anointed with oil. Jonathan’s bow never retreated, Saul’s sword never returned unstained from the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty. Saul and Jonathan, loved and delightful, they were not parted in life or in death. They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions. Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxurious things, who decked your garments with gold ornaments. How the mighty have fallen in the thick of battle. Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I’d like to draw a few comparisons between the situation David found himself in and where we find ourselves as Southern Baptists:
- What, for most people, would have been a cause for celebration, is a cause for grief: David does not take a victory lap. He does not exult over the fallen corpse of a man who tried to have him killed. He grieves for Saul. I could understand him grieving for Jonathan, his best friend, but he goes one step further and grieves for Saul. I’m proud to say that I’ve seen very few victory laps over the fall of Dr. Patterson and others. When a leaders falls, there is no cause for public celebration or pungent humor.
- David honors the fallen: David speaks of Saul’s mighty deeds. He speaks of how Saul had benefited the Israelites. He could have said, “Saul is dead, the one who tried to take my life. The one who’s had me on the run for the better part of the last decade is now disgraced, and his body has been hung on the wall of the Philistine city.” David will have none of that talk. I was talking with a friend last week and I said, “Dr. Patterson’s actions were wrong but I was taught inerrancy in seminary because of the great work of Dr. Patterson. I’m thankful for what God has done through him.
- Saul’s downfall caused the downfall of others: Jonathan was slain and so were many brave men of Israel. Saul died and he seems to have taken quite a few others with him. Unfortunately, Dr. Patterson’s failure has taken down others, and the carnage is not over. the fallout from this failing will continue, and that is another cause for grief. Good men will suffer and are suffering in this situation.
- David did not want to be crowned king in this manner: It’s obvious, from David’s reaction to Saul’s death that David did not want to become king this way. His humility and honor belie a man who is reluctantly taking the throne. I hope all of our new leaders will demonstrate an attitude of reluctant acceptance as they take their new positions. Whether it’s the presidency of Southwestern, the executive director, the head of the IMB, or new professors at our seminaries, I pray they have a humble spirit. It was the lack of a humble spirit that caused the downfall of Dr. Patterson and others. May that not be true of this next crop of leaders.
These are just a couple of points of comparison I meditated on this morning as I was reading. My prayer is that we will all react as David reacted, in humility and honor for those who are seeing the death of their reputations. I also pray that God will replace the leaders we have lost with Godly men, like King David. David may not have wanted to become king because of Saul’s death, but the fact remains that Israel reached her zenith under the leadership of David.