II Samuel 1:17-22: "David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):

Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights.
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Askelon,
lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

O mountains of Gilboa,
may you have neither dew nor rain,
nor fields that yield offerings of grain.
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul -- no longer rubbed with oil.
From the blood of the slain,
from the flesh of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied."

"A tragedy is a story that begins in joy but ends in pain. A comedy is a story that begins in pain, but ends in joy."


King Saul's rule, which began with such promise, quickly turned to disobedience against God, proceeded to implode in distrust and madness, and ended in pettiness and defeat. Yet David still chose to eulogize Saul, for David felt greatly the loss of his life and life's purpose. What value should we find in reading the lives of those who fail? While the Christian vision is ultimately hopeful in its implications, it can embrace and discern a more immediate tragic understanding. After all, the costs of sin to the lives of Lot, Saul, Manasseh, and Ananias and Sapphira are all sad and disappointing. Tragedies teach us the great value of human loss. We can catch something of the broken heart of God over our broken world. At times, the tragic vision also extends to the lessons we learn through our fallenness. David's adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, cost him and his family and his kingdom greatly, and consequently, he learned a deeper lesson not only in sin's price but in God's forgiveness. Having said this, one should not forget that the final vision of the Christian faith is not tragic but deeply hopeful--a restored world, a new heaven, and earth.

Central Insight: Tragedies can teach us about the consequences of sin in a fallen world.

Suggestions for Application: Discuss a tragic element of the work within the context of Christian reflection and compassion for sinful consequences.