The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
2 Samuel 1:19
Good people are missed in life, and there are moments when we properly grieve as we consider the meaning and importance of their service. When the news reached David of the death of Saul and Jonathan, he grieved thinking of the sadness of lives that then lay wasted in death on the battlefield.
What could these men have accomplished had they lived? What good could they still have achieved if they had survived another day? These are questions left unanswered by us mere humans, matters left in the hands and wisdom of almighty God. An absence is felt, a presence is missed, a life given in service to God and to man is removed, and in its void we are moved to consider the importance of good people. We do not have enough of them. And behind each public face is the private life of family and close friends who intimately miss a personal voice, a loving touch, a smile and joke, a presence.
Death seems to select its targets randomly, and the hardness of the matter is that in the end we appear as nothing more than statistics. In the face of such skepticism we affirm the biblical truth that God watches over these matters of life and death. Christ proclaimed, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18). He alone opens the door to the grave to admit entrance, and He alone opens the door of the grave to allow exit.
But there is another battlefield in this story as well – the battlefield of spiritual warfare. Saul had been spiritually taken down long before his body was slain in battle, and there is a message there as well. We are not able to judge another’s falling – there but by the grace of God go us all. We had not walked in his shoes or faced his temptations or struggled with his doubts. We know that there is no excuse for spiritual failure, that in every temptation God provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13), but we also know that we have each failed in some matter. We may rightly denounce wrong attitudes and acts, but we may only do so properly in the spirit of utmost humility. Who are we to judge another?
God has provided deliverance from spiritual failure as well. In His mercy He tells us that where sin abounded, grace super-abounded (Romans 5:20). He says that we are more than conquerors in Him who loved us and continues to love us (Romans 8:37). There is power in the Spirit to tear down strongholds of doubt and disobedience constructed in our hearts over long periods, and to bring every thought captive to be obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
The mighty of God are often fallen along the heights of spiritual battlefields, but, as in death, there can be victory here as well. God forgives, cleanses, restores, and resurrects. If you lie wounded from some spiritual battle, do not let that moment of temporary defeat permanently define you. As a believer you are a new creation of God and the real you is the “new you” created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).
Lord, we thank You for the victory You have given us in Christ. We thank You for those who have touched our lives and whom You have used greatly. Use us as well. May our faithfulness be a blessing to others, as the faithfulness of others has blessed us. And we give You the glory and the praise. Amen.