Upon hearing of Saul and Jonathan’s death David writes a very moving song of lamentation to honor Israel’s King and Prince. In spite of all the hardships Saul brought to David, and to the people of Israel in general, David still finds several things worthy of honoring in Saul’s life.
David’s words concerning Jonathan are particularly moving since Jonathan was one of David’s closest friends. Jonathan was also a likeminded believer in the Lord who demonstrated faith and tremendous confidence because of his relationship with the Lord. It would have certainly been interesting to see Jonathan grow old and serve alongside David in his new united kingdom in Jerusalem.
The “Book of Jashar” was a book of early Hebrew poetry and lyrics that recognized and recorded the heroic acts of God-fearing people. The “Book of Jashar” is also mentioned in Joshua 10:12-13. No copies or manuscripts of this book have been found, but the Bible does preserve a quote from this ancient book concerning a song from one of Joshua’s battles (Jos. 10:12-13).
In David’s lamentation Saul and Jonathan are identified as “the mighty” and as “weapons of war.” David desires that news of Saul and Jonathan’s death not reach the Philistines or else there would be gladness and rejoicing in the streets of Gath and Ashkelon. These were two of the five Philistine cities that made up the Pentapolis (or, the five major cities of Philistia) along with Ashdod, Gaza and Ekron.
David's respect for Saul, the Lord's anointed king, was more of a reflection of David's reverence for the Lord than it was for his admiration for the man and character of Saul. David’s attitude toward God was reflected in his attitude toward people both in respect and in judgment.