"They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword-for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord's people, and the house of Israel." (2 Samuel 1:12 HCSB)
The first four chapters of 2 Samuel feature funeral after funeral. We are reminded of the sad, Scriptural truth, "The wages of sin is death..." (Rom.6:23a).
Chapter One unfolds a story of AVARICE. An Amalekite arrives in the camp of Judah's army and announces to David that King Saul is dead, offering Saul's crown and armband as proof. He proceeds to tell the story of how he came upon the mortally wounded king, who begged him to finish him off and end his suffering, which he proudly claims to have done. Doubtless, greed moved him to tell this tale. He expected that David would reward him for slaying his enemy. He was paid all right! The Amalekite is executed for daring to put his hand on God's anointed. You will recall that David twice had opportunity to do so--and had refused. The Amalekite collects his pay--the wages of sin is death.
By the way, you may wonder how to reconcile the account of Saul's death in the last chapter of 1 Samuel and the first chapter of 2 Samuel. There are two possibilities: 1) The Amalekite was lying. He came to the battlefield and found Saul dead, took the crown and armband from his corpse, and concocted a story to try to extract financial gain. 2) Saul had fallen on his sword and was dying--but had not expired when the Amalekite came by and the king begged him to finish him off. That would be ironic, in that Saul had failed to fully obey God's command to kill all the Amalekites--costing him his kingdom--and now an Amalekite slays him--costing Saul his life! Either way, we see in the case of Saul and the greedy man of Amalek, that the wages of sin is death.
Chapter two features a tale of ANTAGONISM. The foundations of civil war are laid. There will be two rival kings--David, God's chosen and Ishbosheth, one of Saul's sons. There will be two rival generals--Joab and Abner. There will be two rival armies--brother against brother. They call it civil war, but what we read is most uncivil. It is a chapter filled with shed blood and spilled guts. Israel had become a boiling cauldron of hate, containing a lethal stew that poisoned relationships. The consuming passion in life became to stick a sword or spear into someone. Hate is the seed of which killing is the fruit. The wages of sin is death.
Chapter three paints a picture of AMBUSH. Bitterness grows in Joab like a cancer. From the moment he gets word that Abner had killed his brother, Asahel, he begins to plot revenge. There would be none of this trusting God to take care of it. He could handle Abner and would enjoy it. He perverted God's word and must have thought, "Vengeance is mine. I will repay." When Abner leaves the weak fool of a king, Ishbosheth and deserts to David, Joab sees his opportunity and seizes it. He weaves a web of deception and like a poisonous spider, kills his prey. David is dismayed over Joab's bitter heart and betrayal, assuring him that doom will fall on him and his family for this ambush. The wages of sin is death.
The fourth chapter concludes this bloody episode with ASSASSINATION. Two of Ishbosheth's soldiers see the writing on the wall and decide to cut their losses, so they cut the king's head off after stabbing him in the stomach. The grisly head is then presented to David to show that the conflict is ended and David reigns supreme. The assassins, like the Amalekite before, think that David will be glad--but, he is mad! They are executed for their crime. The wages of sin is death.
We all live on death row. Each of us are dead men walking. Hopefully, we will not be murdered or be executed for murder, but in some way, at some time, the appointed day to die will come. The wages of sin is death. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God--no exceptions.
The wonderful news is that Christ has died in our place! He suffered the death we deserve so that we might have eternal life. David would have a descendant who would enter the world one day--Jesus Christ--who would be crowned with thorns and crucified. His blood would be shed instead of ours. The wages of sin is death--but that is only the first half of the verse. The remainder says, "But, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." There can be a pardon for your crimes issued by the King. You cannot try to cover up those wicked deeds by rationalizing them. You must confess them by repenting of them. The King promises to be gracious and merciful.