This summer, we will be sharing weekly devotions to encourage you to think deeply about the scripture text and keywords of the upcoming sermon. Our prayer is that this special devotional series will encourage you in DEEPENING YOUR ROOTS in Christ this summer.
Death has become an almost taboo subject in our youth-obsessed culture today. No one wants to talk about death for fear it might invite a visit to our lives or the lives of those we love. We avoid these morbid discussions, pretending that life is all “sweetness and light.” When a friend or family member faces death, we may even make excuses as to why we can’t visit them because we cannot handle the harsh realities of dying--the sights, smells, and sounds of death.

The problem with this short-sighted, death-denying behavior is that it robs us of opportunities to reflect on questions involving eternity, the meaning of life, and the grief. Because we spend so much time trying to escape death, we often find ourselves totally unprepared when the shadow of death comes our way.

Christians are not immune to this fear of death. We often shy away from thoughts of death, defaulting to easy religious platitudes rather than being honest about the pain of loss. “It must have been the Lord’s will” or “she’s in a better place” are meaningless phrases to those who are grief-shattered. Thankfully, the Bible gives God’s people both examples and permission to express our grief with authenticity and candor. In this week’s text, we find the young man David grieving the loss of Saul and Jonathan by repeating the phrase, “How the mighty have fallen!” This use of repetition signifies his inability to grasp the reality of their deaths, a challenge all those who face grief experience.
Lectionary Text : 1 Samuel 15:34–16:13

David Mourns for Saul and Jonathan

1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.
17 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. 18 (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:
19 Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
   How the mighty have fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath,
   proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
   the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.
21 You mountains of Gilboa,
   let there be no dew or rain upon you,
   nor bounteous fields!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
   the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.
22 From the blood of the slain,
   from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
   nor the sword of Saul return empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
   In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
   they were stronger than lions.
24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
   who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
   who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25 How the mighty have fallen
   in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
26    I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
   your love to me was wonderful,
   passing the love of women.
27 How the mighty have fallen,
   and the weapons of war perished!

Focal Verse
Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
   How the mighty have fallen!
II Samuel 1:19
This Week's Word: Grief
God understands and invites us to share our feelings of grief when we lose someone we love. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a “time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Jesus promised, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” Jesus even wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. Grief is not the absence of faith but the result of great love.

Thoughts for the Week
“Grief is the price we pay for love.”   Queen Elizabeth II

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”    C.S. Lewis

“Grief is work. Avoiding grief is even more work.” David Kessler

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  Winnie the Pooh

“The hardest part of love is the letting go.”  Stephen Schwartz
Points to Ponder
  • Think about your first experience with the death of a loved one. How did you grieve? How long did you grieve? How did you reclaim your life? How do you still honor the memory of this loved one?
  • How do you respond when someone you know is grieving? Are you a “fixer” who tries to “cure” grief with suggestions for a book to read or a exercise to try? Are you the “drama addict” who wants to share in all the details of the death and funeral but then fades into oblivion when real grief sets in? Are you the “avoider” who feels uncomfortable with death, so you don’t do anything at all? Or, are you a “comforter,” those warm and caring people who are brave enough to handle the full range of emotions a person in grief might display?
  • Think about those in your life who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Prayerfully consider ways to minister to them this week, whether it be a card, a phone call, a meal, a walk, a flower, etc. 
This Week's Prayer Prompt
  • Remember those in our congregation who are grieving the loss of a loved one
  • Remember friends whom you have not seen in a long time. Pray for their well-being. Send them a note of appreciation for their friendship.
  • Remember Kristen and her family as they begin their Sabbatical journey. Pray for their safety. Ask the Lord to show them “wonders” along the way.
This week's devotion was written by Susan Hailey