David learns of Saul’s death from an Amalekite—perhaps a shiftless deserter from the armies of his own countrymen—who brags that he delivered the deathblow to Israel’s king and produces convincing evidence to support his claim. David was so enraged! after his grief was somewhat assuaged at the end of the day (vv. 11–12), that he commanded the alleged Amalekite to be executed (vv. 13–15). His false testimony, far from ingratiating him with David, had sealed his doom. David spontaneously displays his loyalty, respect, and admiration for his fallen king.
When David learned that his most determined enemy was dead, he did not rejoice. Instead, he and his men expressed profound grief in response to the news. The anguish was not only for Saul’s death but also for the royal family and because the defeat at Gilboa was indeed a national tragedy. In the midst of his grief, however, David did not fail to perform his duty to obey the Torah, which prescribed the death of all Amalekites (cf. 15:18–19; Exod 17:15–16; Deut 25:17–19). Before
Consistent with his policy of respecting the royal messianic office, David kills the Amalekite. Grief stricken, David then utters the most stirring tribute to fallen companions recorded in the Bible. The words stand as a monument to David’s solidarity with Israel’s first dynastic family and demonstrate why he was such a fitting choice to be Israel’s next king.