Yesterday we concluded with a statement about the priceless value of integrity. Integrity was something sadly lacking for one person we didn’t get to in the account of Saul’s death. Before we do, though, let’s review how Saul died:
“Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons – Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him severely. Saul groaned to his armor bearer, ‘Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me’” (I Samuel 31:1-4a, NLT).
“But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When his armor bearer realized that Saul was dead, he fell on his own sword and died beside the king. So Saul, his three sons, his armor bearer, and his troops all died together that same day” (I Samuel 31:4b-6).
David, busy on his own battlefield, had no idea what had happened. So when a young man from Saul’s camp came to David and told him, David questioned him carefully:
“‘Where have you come from?’ David asked. ‘I escaped from the Israelite camp,’ the man replied. ‘What happened?’ David demanded. ‘Tell me how the battle went.’ The man replied, ‘Our entire army fled from the battle. Many of the men are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.’ ‘How do you know Saul and Jonathan are dead?’ David demanded of the young man” (II Samuel 1:3-6).
Here’s where this guy made the worst mistake of his life: “The man answered, ‘I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear with the enemy chariots and charioteers closing in on him. When he turned and saw me, he cried out for me to come to him. ‘How can I help?’ I asked him. He responded, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am an Amalekite,’ I told him. Then he begged me, ‘Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.’ So I killed him,’ the Amalekite told David, ‘for I knew he couldn’t live. Then I took his crown and his armband, and I have brought them here to you, my lord’” (II Samuel 1:7-10).
David responded with the million-dollar question: “Why were you not afraid to kill the Lord’s anointed one?” (II Samuel 1:11).
Having survived the battle – if indeed he was ever even in it – this fellow came upon the dead king and took “his crown and armband,” bringing them to David in the hope that he could score points with the one next in line on the power pyramid. What was his reward?
“David said to one of his men, ‘Kill him!’ So the man thrust his sword into the Amalekite and killed him. ‘You have condemned yourself,’ David said, ‘for you yourself confessed that you killed the Lord’s anointed one’” (II Samuel 1:15-16).
It was all a lie. It was done to impress. But the young man’s scheme went very, very wrong. Integrity, folks. There’s no substitute. The price for dishonesty can be overwhelming.