Saul was already dead when David came back from routing Amelec, and spent two days in Siceleg;
then, on the third day, a man from Saul’s army came in view, his garments torn, his head covered with dust, who, upon sight of David, bowed down to earth and did reverence.
Whence comest thou? David asked, and on learning that he had made his way there from the Israelite army,
Tell me, how went the day? We were routed, said he, in the battle, and many of the common folk fell slain; worse yet, Saul and his son Jonathan are among the dead.
What proof hast thou, David asked the messenger, that Saul and Jonathan were slain?
I chanced, said he, to reach mount Gelboe, and there I found Saul, leaning on his spear. Chariots and horsemen were in close pursuit,
and he turned to look behind him; saw, and hailed me, and learned I was ready at his command;
asked who I was, and learned that I was an Amalecite.
Then he said, Stand close, and give me my death-blow; the toils are closing round me, and I am a whole man yet.
So I stood close, and dealt the blow, knowing well that there could be no life for him after his fall; then I took the crown from his head and the bracelet from his arm, and here I bring them to my lord.
At that, David rent his garments, and so did all the men who were with him;
mourned they and wept, and fasted till evening came, for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s people, men of Israel’s race, that lay fallen in battle.
And now David asked the messenger, Whence is it thou camest? My father, he answered, was an alien, a man of Amalec.
And wast thou not afraid, said David, to lay hands on the king the Lord had anointed, and slay him?
Then he bade one of his men go up and make an end of the Amalecite, and when the blow had fallen, said over his dead body,
Thou hast brought death on thy own head, by owning thyself the murderer of an anointed king.
This is the lament David made over Saul and his son Jonathan,
and would have this lament of his, The Bow, taught to the sons of Juda; the words of it are to be found in the Book of the Upright. Remember, Israel, the dead, wounded on thy heights,
the flower of Israel, cut down on thy mountains; how fell they, warriors such as these?
Keep the secret in Geth, never a word in the streets of Ascalon; shall the women-folk rejoice, shall they triumph, daughters of the Philistine, the uncircumcised?
Mountains of Gelboe, never dew, never rain fall upon you, never from your lands be offering made of first-fruits; there the warrior’s shield lies dishonoured, the shield of Saul, bright with oil no more.
Where the blood of slain men, the flesh of warriors beckoned, never the bow of Jonathan hung back, never the sword of Saul went empty from the feast.
Saul and Jonathan, so well beloved, so beautiful; death no more than life could part them; never was eagle so swift, never was lion so strong.
Lament, daughters of Israel, lament for Saul, the man who dressed you bravely in scarlet, who decked your apparel out with trinkets of gold.
How fell they, warriors such as these, in the battle? On thy heights, Gelboe, Jonathan lies slain.
Shall I not mourn for thee, Jonathan my brother, so beautiful, so well beloved, beyond all love of women? Never woman loved her only son, as I thee.
How fell such warriors, what could blunt such swords as these?