Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. (2 Samuel 1:23 NKJV)
In my reading today of II Samuel 1, David was told of the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan. They were killed in battle with the Philistines in the last chapter (31) of I Samuel.
David takes up a lament starting in II Samuel 1:17. Even though Saul had tried to kill David on many occasions, David never desired to harm Saul, because he knew that the King was the Lord’s anointed one. Jonathan and David were the best of friends.
In verse 23, David refers to Saul and Jonathan, father and son, were together even in the battles and both were very skilled in battle. They were “stronger than lions” and won many victories. Being “swifter than eagles” could well refer to their ability to dodge the swords and arrows of battle and to come quickly to the place of the fight.
David’s use of the Eagle was because of his familiarity of them. As a shepherd, he must have watched them flying over with great speed and agility. The following Eagles are all seen in Israel and may well have been some of the ones that David was observed speeding through the sky on the way to catch a prey.
Gill – “they were swifter than eagles; in the quick dispatch of business, in hasting to the relief of the distressed, as Saul to the men of Jabeshgilead, and in the pursuit of their enemies, as of the Philistines, more than once:”
K & D – “The light motion or swiftness of an eagle (cf. Hab_1:8), and the strength of a lion (vid., 2Sa_17:10), were the leading characteristics of the great heroes of antiquity.”
Poole – “Swifter than eagles; expeditious and nimble in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince and in a soldier.
Stronger than lions, in regard of their bodily strength and the courage of their minds.”
Wesley – “2 Samuel 1:23
Lovely – Amiable, and obliging in their carriage and conversation, both towards one another, and towards their people: for, as for Saul’s fierce behaviour towards Jonathan, it was only a sudden passion, by which his ordinary temper was not to be measured; and for his carriage towards David, that was from that jealousy and reason of state which usually engageth even well – natured princes, to the same hostilities. But it is observable, that David speaks not a word here of his piety; but only commends him for those things which were truly in him…. Swifter, &c. – Expeditious in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince, and in a soldier. Stronger, &c. – In regard of their bodily strength, and the courage of their mind.”
Here is a list of the Eagles seen in Israel:
- White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
- Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) OBI
- Lesser Spotted Eagle (Clanga pomarina) Avibase
- Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga) by Nikhil
- Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) by Africaddict
- Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) by Nikhil Devasar
- Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
- Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) by Margaret Sloan
- Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
- Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata)
- Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
- Birds of the Bible – Eagles
- Birds of the Bible
- List of Birds in Israel – Wikipedia
- Accipitridae – Kites, Hawks and Eagles – Family