v1: Following the events at the end of 1 Samuel, David stayed at Ziklag. He was ignorant of Saul's defeat at the hands of the Philistines.
v2-10: The Amalekite had come from the battle. He thought that David would be pleased that Saul was dead, so he invented the story about killing Saul, and probably expected a reward for doing so. It is strange that the Amalekite just happened to be on Mount Gilboa, in the middle of a battle, and certainly Saul would not be standing leaning on his spear. The man used deceit to try to win the respect and praise of others.
v11-12: Genuine sorrow over the death of Saul; David showed a truly spiritual attitude, leaving aside all criticism of Saul. This attitude is maintained in the "Lament of the Bow" (v19-27).
v13-16: The Amalekite held carnal, unspiritual attitudes; he disregarded the principle of the Lord's anointed, and despised God's ways. David seems not to be convinced that the man was being truthful, but he judged him by his words and his intentions.
v17-18: David composed the Lament of the Bow, and had it taught to Judah. This would encourage respect for God, and remind the people of the importance of both Saul and Jonathan. It also provides a spiritual response to the awful events of human warfare.
v19: The mighty, the glory of Israel, had fallen on Gilboa. Thus Saul is worthy of respect.
v20: We are not to discuss openly problems amongst the Lord's people, lest unbelievers rejoice. Sorrow is right and proper; Hezekiah fell into error on this issue, when he showed unbelievers all the treasures of his kingdom.
‘Home affairs are not talked about on the public square.’ (Kenyan Proverb)
‘Sorrow is like a precious treasure, shown only to friends.’ (Madagascar Proverb)
v21: David's prayer, that Gilboa itself show respect for the mighty dead.
v22: Saul and Jonathan were effective in battle; Saul had still slain his thousands (1 Sam 18.7).
v23: In spite of their problems, Saul and Jonathan died together; Jonathan showed his loyalty to his father.
v24: The blessing of Saul's reign, bringing some prosperity to Israel.
v25-26: Words about Jonathan; he too was mighty. David was close to Jonathan, "my brother", and they shared a real love for each other.
v27: The mighty have fallen.