Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lament of the Bow

Who among us has not tasted grief and the deepest of sorrows?

Whether it's born of the death of a loved one, a deeply felt disappointment or regret, or some irrevocable loss, it's sting is potent like no other. Such grief leaves a scar that often baffles us long into our tomorrows.

David is, perhaps, the best spokesperson on the subject. His life and writings require at least one box of Kleenex as we discern his unabashed mournfulness throughout various epochs in his own life.

Certainly David's grief is keenly felt with the loss of his firstborn, but also with the betrayal of several of his own sons; their mis-deeds and premature deaths. A life lived largely on-the-run only added to his sense of disenfranchisement.

Yet it's when we come to his woeful reaction to news of the deaths of Saul and Jonathon - one a bitter but much loved enemy & the other a true, beloved friend - we not only learn of the bloody battle that claimed them, but of the depths of David's heart.

He composes a song, and it is given a name: The Lament of the Bow.

It's a dirge, a song of bereavement David is compelled to craft. It is also a song of remembrance (lest he, or anyone else forget?) ... and soon it becomes a training cadence.

It would seem war is always to be lamented. How well we all know this!

I believe it's something more ...

War and bows are, unfortunately, the stuff of gaining and maintaining freedom. Some are engaged in it for far less noble causes - like ethnic cleansing or power grabs - but it's fair to say that bloodshed is never (or lamenting, for that matter) God's Plan A. It's always a lessor plan, one that seemingly becomes inevitable long after the opportunity for doing life God's way has passed.

Such a thing never calls for rejoicing, regardless of who wins, unless it's to celebrate the end, the cessation of the war itself. In all instances, war calls for the Lament of the Bow.

Whether it's friend or foe laying mortally wounded on fields of battle (literally and figuratively), there's little cause for celebration. Victory chants ring hollow next to the bow's lament.

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! ...
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.

"Saul and Jonathan— in life they were
loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.

"O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul,
who clothed you in scarlet and finery,
who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

"How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
The weapons of war have perished!"

1 Samuel 1:17-27

I have no clue why David's lament felt so personal to me, or why it compelled me to craft this piece. What I do know is that I have felt the wounds of friend & foe alike, and I have also seen many a loved one fallen on the fields of battle - some placed there by my own skilled archery.

May I never forget the Lament of the Bow, for even the mighty fall.


Rose said...

Wow, I am at a loss of this one. Very powerful and thought provoking.

christy rose said...

Sitting here thinking and lamenting myself for some of the friends and even family that fallen wounded by my own shooting of the bow. I can feel David's pain.

Tammy@If Meadows Speak... said...

This scene in David's life always moves me! He bestfriend, Jonathon gone. And Saul, who grieved David's heart. I imagine at one time he longed for reconcilition with him or at best, a cease to his pursuits (best known in his Psalms). May I walk in the same grace for those who oppose or even reject me. Thanks Kathleen!

Beth E. said...

Very powerful, Sassy. Three years ago, we experienced wounds from members of our church family...deep and very painful. The journey through that healing process has been very long and difficult.

I can definitely relate to the Lament of the Bow!

Denise said...

Awesome post.

RCUBEs said...

Despite him [David] being wounded by Saul, he was quick to forgive. And still gave love back. How painful it must be to lose his best friend! I pray that I'd be quick to forgive those stings that came and will come my way. Especially, may I never cause a painful wound on someone but be able to ease the pain instead. You continue to inspire. God bless.

~*~KIMBERLY~*~ said...

Very powerful indeed. I am left speechless.

Kelly said...

Just read the blog -Meditation from the Cardinal`s Nest - by Ruth !
At January 7 post ,you will see one amazing story about one amazing sister .She`s looking for founds to feed some hungryes childrens .
I just thinking how i can realy help !??
I pray that Joy For All will minister to it's visitors
and will encourage and bless everyone in some way.
We can identify with the disciples. At times, we have
a tendency to focus on the things that are going on around us instead of the One that is in control of all things. When that happens, reality may seem overwhelming, and the problems appear unsolvable. However, we must realize to be fearful
is to lack faith in God and in His provision for us. True faith focuses on God, not on the things that are happening.Psalm 139:11-12
If I say, surely the darkness shall fall on me,
Even the night shall be light about me.
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide
from You, but the night shines as the day,
the darkness and the light are both
a like to You.
in Jesus love >>

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

You are deep, girl. You just inspire me to dig even deeper!

Terri Tiffany said...

Great post! I was thinking of you and your Y . I hope it is better.

Nel said...

Wow... Very powerful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your heart!

Karen Lange said...

It is indeed thought provoking, and hits home in some way for all of us. Thanks for posting this.
Blessings to you and your readers.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Who among us has not at some point in their lives, felt the lament of the bow? It sometimes comes when we least expect it and often out of the blue. I can relate to this, although I could never have written as beautifully as you just did. You cause me to examine, to take apart, and to think deeply. I really like that about you. This blog is filled with substance.

LisaShaw said...

Truth be told Kathleen, this powerful writing drew me to tears as I hung on every word. Much that I feel about it.


I love you.