What to Do When the Mighty Fall
2 Samuel 1:17-27
(17) And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
(18) (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
(19) The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
(20) Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
(21) Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
(22) From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
(23) Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
(24) Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
(25) How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
(26) I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
(27) How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
The world of many Christians has been shaken this week with two great blows. The unthinkable fall of one mighty man of God and another mighty man of God leaving a thriving church unexpectedly. The circumstances are different, but the results of hurt, disbelief and injury to the cause of Christ are the same. Every generation must face the pain of fallen heroes. Many in our church are young Christians and have never felt this type of pain, while others who may be more mature have been insulated from this unusual kind of hurt. America is replete with born-again believers sitting on the sidelines of God’s work because they do not know how to handle the unimaginable disappointment of fallen leaders. I thank God for the army of Christians who have served God for many years through many dangers, toils and snares while the amazing grace of God has kept their eyes firmly fixed on our worthy Lord.
It is my desire to sit down with each of you and speak face to face about these matters. I would comfort you, help you know that all is well and make some sense of it all. With all that is going on this week that is not possible as we are busy serving the Lord. May these few words help teach our church folks and any other reader how to weather this terrible storm and go on for God.
In the above verses we learn the heart of God through David about the fall of Saul. May these verses and many others guide us during this stage of our battle.
In verse 19 of 2 Samuel, we learn that sometimes mighty people fall. Moms, dads, preachers, mentors, Sunday school teachers, bus workers, soul winners and all other people who God uses to influence us for Him can fall. Though they seem so strong and bigger than life, they are made of the same stuff as you and me. Saul was head and shoulders above the rest of the children of Israel. He was anointed of God to be the first king of Israel to rule on God’s behalf. He started well but finished poorly. God will raise up people in different areas and at different times to do a mighty work for Him. We know from I Peter 5:8 that we have an adversary, the Devil, who is seeking whom he may devour. Every Christian, no matter how filled with the Spirit or how wise, is in danger of falling until that Evil One is locked securely in the lake of fire and we are safe in Heaven. Be sober! Be vigilant! He longs to destroy you! Furthermore, we learn in Luke 22 that Satan specifically desired to have Peter so that he may sift Peter as wheat. In I Chronicles 21:1 we are reminded that Satan stood against David and worked specifically in his life to get him to sin against God. The fact is that Satan desires to destroy everyone, but he has a “hit list” of high priority targets whose fall will inflict the most amount of collateral damage. Satan knows if he gets the parents to fall, he will often get the children. If he gets the preacher to fall, it will affect the church. If he can destroy a preacher with a national ministry, it will affect many churches. As God increases your influence, your priority on Satan’s hit list rises, and you must be that much more sober and vigilant. In this situation, the temptation is to throw away all godly leadership and choose mistrust as a way of life. God knows the frailty of man; yet, He still chooses to use them to lead others. You will never succeed in bypassing the Scriptures and seeking security outside of God’s plan. Don’t waste your life trying to convince others that men will fail them, but rather spend your life trying to help frail men reach their potential for God.
In verse 20, we see David’s concern of how the terrible news should be handled.
(20) Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
It was not David’s desire to hide the truth as so often is slandered against God’s people, but that the information be handled wisely so as to not give the Devil’s crowd even more reason to rejoice and take victory laps in triumph. The Bible teaches plainly in II Samuel 12:14 that when God’s people partake in grievous sins, it gives “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” God’s people should understand that the heathen will rage.
Psalm 2:1-3 “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
The world will take any opportunity to slander our God, His work and His people. They will publish it far and wide, and make the sin which is already so exceedingly sinful sound as horrible as possible for maximum shock value. (A simple reminder not to believe that everything you hear is appropriate.) If they rage against us for our righteousness and biblical stand, how much more will they rage over the obvious and unthinkable sins of God’s people. We expect the heathen to rage. What is so disappointing and unbearable is when God’s people join the chorus of the heathen to rage! I hear someone saying now, “But sin must be called out!” or “But it’s true and people need to know!” There are always those who fear that sin will not be called sin or will be swept under the rug. I do understand that sin issues in some churches have not been dealt with biblically to those churches’ shame. God will take care of them. However, it is not necessary for us to try to convince the world of how horrible these horrible sins are – the Bible does that. Sin is sin! The wages of sin is death! Always! Saved sinners will be spared the eternal fires of Hell through faith in Christ, but they will face all the consequences of it here on Earth. Their punishment will be quick and appropriate from the holy Judge of the Universe. But again, we don’t need to convince the world of how wicked one of our own is when they have obviously been wicked. It does the kingdom of God no profit when God’s people publish links and give strong opinions to things they know very little about and cannot fix. Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and the internet are full of Christians mishandling a tragic situation and bringing more shame to the cause of Christ. I urge each of you to make sure your own heart is right. God has prepared judgments for the backs of scorners (Proverbs 19:29). Make sure that as others sin, the Devil doesn’t get you to partake in the sins of gossip, scorn, murmur, pride and disbelief. They too are sins that have a high price. We should remember the value of silence.
(Proverbs 11:12) He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
Job’s friends sat with him for 7 days before they said a word. But even after that amazing show of personal discipline and obvious care for Job in a week of silence, they were in trouble with God because of pride and making unrighteous judgments about Job and his situation. What they said was true. However, it was not true of Job. No matter how it looks or what you hear, only God knows all the details. In times of great grief or emotionally charged situations, learn to be still for a while and know that He is God. He is still on the throne, and all is well. I also remind you that we believe in the local church. If the problem is not in your local church then you cannot fix it and your responsibility is to pray. Your world is still okay. Your life will go on tomorrow as it should. Your church and pastor are still serving God and have much work to do. Don’t get distracted.
After you make sure you are right, I urge you to deal with this within your family. Don’t allow fear to rule you and your response. Use this situation as a real-life lesson that will strengthen your children’s faith instead of weaken it. The most dangerous thing to your child’s faith and service for God is not any situation outside your home. Instead, it is what they learn from you as you respond to difficult situations. Go through the information here with your family as the Lord leads. Be steadfast in the faith.
In verses 21-24, we see David lamenting that Saul was being treated as though he had never been anointed by God to be king.
Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel. (2 Samuel 1:21-24)
This is an important truth. How do we handle all the material we have from the mighty who have fallen? What do we do with all of the truth we have learned from them? The Accuser of the brethren will work to convince you that the fallen leader was a fake and that all great men are fakes to some extent. He will try to convince you that God was never with the man at all, and he will desire that you throw away all that you learned from him. This would be a foolish mistake. Saul was anointed of God to be king and though he died in disgrace, it did not undo all the good that he did. There will be fakes and conmen who compete for influence in your life from time to time. There are those who are truly hypocrites, and may God give us wisdom to discern them. Nevertheless, there are good men who have been mightily used of the Lord who in the end succumb to the Devil’s snares. Saul and Jonathan were good men who did a lot of good and wrought mighty victories for the Lord. David was concerned that fact not be lost in the tragedy of their fall. Thank God for the victories. Build on their labors. Remember the good. Embrace the biblical truth you have been taught. Live it before God the rest of your life. Understand that good and mighty men can fall, and make sure your life is protected with biblical safeguards.
In verse 25, we are reminded that mighty men fall in battle.
How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. (2 Samuel 1:25)
In the Scriptures, we are reminded repeatedly that we are in a spiritual battle of epic scale. I don’t mean to sound cold or unfeeling, but the truth remains that in every battle there are casualties. Often when mighty men fall, they are on the frontlines of the battle. They are doing amazing works. They are pushing back the Enemy’s lines and taking much ground for God. The officers in the Lord’s army are high priority targets for Satan’s “special forces.” The weak and fearful are in their tents cowering from the fray. The untested critics are on the sidelines being puffed up by their blogs and posts. Those who can’t do – criticize. The heroes are on the field doing the hard things that others won’t dare to conceive. Soldiers live with heavy hearts and memories of friends who they watched die in the battle. When troops and officers are lost in the middle of a war, the war does not stop. War is hard. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” 2 Timothy 2:3. We must mourn on the move and not be distracted from the battle or defeated in the battlefields of our hearts and minds. We may lose good people along the way, but the Captain of the Lord’s Host is still leading the charge and we must follow. Follow on!
In this verse, we are reminded that we should be concerned about those who are the casualties of the mighty man’s fall.
I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. (2 Samuel 1:26)
While others were discussing the stupidity of Saul’s decisions and giving their “expert” opinion of why all these things happened, David was distressed for Jonathan. Jonathan was Saul’s son. He was a good man, a mighty man, and a great friend of David. David’s heart was broken because Jonathan was collateral damage of Saul’s sin.
In all the drama that takes place as a great man falls, we must not lose fact that there are many people hurting. The Bible admonishes us to “weep with those that weep” in Romans 12:15. It is so undeniably devilish to get caught up with the raging accusations and finger pointing that we miss the heart of Christ for those who are hurting. When someone falls, there are moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, church members and others who are hurting beyond your comprehension. If you must move your mouth, make sure it is in prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. Strive to handle the hardest situations how you hope others would handle it if it was your loved ones involved. God loves those people and so should we.
In verse 27, we are reminded that when mighty men fall, we lose great weapons in the battle for souls.
How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! (2 Samuel 1:27)
Allow me to plead on God’s behalf for a moment. When the mighty fall, it hurts us greatly; I do not mean to diminish that. Nevertheless, I do want to remind you that when the mighty fall, the hurt you feel is not all-important. We must realize the loss to the kingdom of God. God has lost a great weapon in the battle for souls. All of the time that was invested in grooming them and the ministry experience of that mighty one is lost for a time. Thanks be to God that His work will continue and that His work isn’t only dependent upon a few mighty ones. All of us have our part to do. However, it takes years for God’s people to mature to maximum fruitfulness. Any loss of a mature fruit-bearing Christian is a great loss to the kingdom of God. When mighty men fall, we must be motivated to seek God more and strive to be more effective for His kingdom. We must pray more, visit more, invite more, preach more, submit more and give more than ever before. We must do our personal best to hinder the loss to the Kingdom of God by giving our best to the Master.
The words you just read are a labor of many hours of prayer and over 3 hours of writing. I fear that some will misunderstand something that was said while others will skim over it in minutes and hastily make their expert judgments with little prayer or a few verses out of context. My prayer is that our people will learn to handle this most tragic situation with a level of grace and faith that will bring much glory to our Lord.
If this helped you, leave a kind word. If you struggle with something I wrote, I encourage you to do something much more helpful than a hasty, negative comment. You can pray for me and all of God’s people. I encourage you to rise above the drama. Be still and seek God until you find Him in an unusual way. Let’s do more for God than we have ever done.
If you have sincere questions or desire guidance in how to handle this with your family, I welcome your call and would love to meet with you.
Thank you for the privilege of being your pastor. May we serve Him mightily until we see Him!
Pastor Paul Chapman