The Song of the Bow

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(This is actually an excerpt from my book on divorce that I modified to fit into a broader perspective:)

“Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the song of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jashar.” -2 Sam. 1:17

Most of us are much more familiar with THIS part of the Song…

          “How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

But I want to point out just one more part of this passage…

“For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
The shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.”

I actually heard this verse proclaimed on national television once in lieu of a famous televangelist that had been caught in a scandal…most of us can quote the “how the mighty have fallen” part but we do not realize what is going on in this song…

The back story is that David had just learned of the death of Saul and Jonathan, the message bearer supposed this would be good news to David because of the animosity between the House of Saul and David, however the messenger was wrong.

My current journey in faith has me exploring the amazing story of Gods grace for us, a grace so large that most of our spiritual warfare and push for revival seems a distraction…I have spent years in intercession, warfare and deliverance ministries and I am not ready to discount that stuff, however at this point in my journey I have decided that anything that involves my efforts is meant by Gods design to be an exploration of joy, so all those things, the battle, the demons the what-not, MUST find quotient in Gods design for joy in my life…in other words I am done working outside of Papa’s grace…I don’t care how powerful the truth is…if Papa is not in it for me, I don’t have time for it.

But something popped up on my Radar today that involves this truth as the Lord led me into it several years ago…and let me walk you to the stream…

For the longest time I would read the song of the bow as a lament, and the lament was seen as a cry of sorrow over the loss of Saul and Jonathan, but mostly Jonathan…I read the phrase “The shield of Saul NOT anointed with oil” as an indictment of Sauls life, a life where he had lost connection with God and had lost the anointing…I read the passage as a warning for us to stay connected to the anointing, to stay current in our relationship with the Holy Spirit or else we would fall like Saul did…

But as I explored divorce I discovered that everyone I knew (including myself) had experienced massive grief in the divorce process…even in instances where it was clearly the Lord delivering someone from a dangerous partner and a life of lesser hope I saw that everyone experienced grief and I was not happy with the world/psycho-babble approach to go through the six steps and finally be over it…

In my studies I had explored two distinct subjects, the Hebrew culture and ancient warfare…these two foundations began to inform my perspective a little differently.

In Hebrew culture (and most Eastern Cultures) mourning is a normal and healthy part of life…we in the West have no real concept of mourning…as I explored it I found many Biblical passages instructing us to mourn and one in particular that shocked me…

Pauls solution to blatant sexual sin in Corinth was not counseling, not Sozo Ministry, not deliverance and warfare…his solution was separating from the person involved in sin and then MOURNING…this is not something we actually teach much less do…

How many marriages could be saved if instead of sending people to counseling and spending months ministering to them the church instead would get on the carpet and mourn?

I know this approach was never used in any of the marriages I was close to including my own…I have sat through hours and hours of marriage counseling only to watch as the sin eroded and ate away identity until divorce was the only way to save our souls…

We don’t like to mourn…and often we find intercessors who will cry out for revival and seem rather morbid and “to emotional” for the average fellowship…but what if there was something missing in our culture that mourning churches could heal?

Just asking…

(And to be fair feasting occurs much more in scripture than fasting, so any mourning should be temporary/a season at best.)

Of course with any truth if I cannot find reflection in Jesus I have to question its placement in my life…and true to form I do find Jesus not only mentioning mourning in the beatitudes but also actually mourning for Jerusalem…so yeah mourning is a valid New Testament practice and no ever teaches about it…at least no one I have read…

The challenge that changed my perspective came a few years ago…I was writing about mourning in divorce as something to help heal the process and the Lord asked me:

“What do you suppose David is mourning?”…

My normal response was the death of Saul, the loss of the kingdom in battle, and of course the loss of Jonathan…but it was the next question that changed my understanding…

“Who’s job was it to anoint Saul’s shield with oil?”…and suddenly the light went on…

In ancient cultures it was the armor bearers job to keep the shields oiled and ready…the shields in Israel at that time were most likely hide or leather, remember the Philistines had driven out all the blacksmiths and metal workers so Saul’s’ shield would not be like our Greek, or European metal/bronze devices they would be more like the Native American armaments and those particular shields required soaking in oil in order to keep them from being brittle, they would actually anoint the shield until it was heavy and the oil would add protection, but if they were not oiled they became dried out and brittle, eventually cracking and allowing darts and arrows to penetrate….

and David was Saul’s armor bearer…(1 Samuel 16:21)

David as much as anything in this song is mourning the fact that because of broken things he was unable to complete his covenant as Saul’s armor bearer, it was his job to keep Saul’s shield oiled and ready for battle and because of the division between the houses, David was unable to complete his assignment.

This became the direction in divorce that I realized grief was supposed to take, every divorce is a fractured covenant, and it requires two people to be in covenant…unfortunately as things fall apart it becomes impossible for you to do your part of the covenant, and the song of the bow is a reminder that what was designed to be a mighty testimony has fallen into ruin…and no matter what the conditions for the divorce, you had a responsibility that you can no longer do…the proper biblical response is to mourn (at least for a season).

God will not give us something we will not love…if you want a city, a nation, an assignment it will require your heart being enlarged so you can love the target of your dream…and when Gods love shows up it also brings Gods perspective…His eyes to see the original design, His heart of passion…and perhaps this is where we get to participate in healing the land…maybe as we mourn for the loss of original design we can release something to bring change…before David unites Israel, he mourns Saul’s Kingdom fall…maybe the kingdom we are promised is waiting for the floodgates of the heavens to be opened up…maybe our tears prime the pump…I dunno.

I wonder how much “revival” and cultural shift could happen if we stopped complaining about empire and started mourning instead…mourning the loss of jobs, the poverty, the crime, the political spirit that has hijacked much of our culture…

What would happen in churches if we started mourning the systems that abuse, the lack of transparency, the lack of prayer, the show, passivity, the system that created distance and delay for the average believer sitting in the pew?

What would happen if instead of politicking against same sex marriage we mourned the loss of Gods image in men and women? Instead of complaining about gun control we mourned the incredible loss of life that happens daily in minorities?

What would God give us if we mourned with the widow and the fatherless, the hopeless and the alien?

I am not a fan of sadness and mourning…but in order to get past it…we might have to embrace it…

“Blessed are they that mourn…” its a promise…and maybe a pathway…

 

 

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One thought on “The Song of the Bow

  1. Mark, this is such deep crying unto deep ministry. Touched me in ways that only God could. This is not one of those cutting words where the open wound is laid bare to fester but a word of a surgeon who knows not only to cut with a scalpel but stitch your wounds back together again. Thank you. I realise it has relevance much wider than those who have experienced ‘divorce’ and separation of a marriage relationship, there was so much that hit home to this man who has been separated from the church system and ministry lifestyle. This deserves to be read by many. As charismaniacs we are rubbish at relating to and writing laments. This does not fit easy with our victory models or our culture of westernised stoniness. Afraid to show feelings and honesty and the depths of despair. Yet in honesty there is a greater freedom. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. Mourning before morning. We are in such a hurry to get to the mountain peaks that we miss the depth of healing of the valley. Appreciate you so much my friend. Thank you and much blessing,
    Paul.

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