What is going on in 2 Samuel 1, when David ordered the death of the Amalekite who killed Saul at Saul’s request?
The Amalekite messenger is not the one who killed Saul. At the end of 1 Samuel, Saul asked his armor bearer to kill him. But the armor bearer refused to kill the King. So Saul ended up falling on his own sword. He died from suicide, not murder.
But this young messenger probably thought he would get some kind of reward for saying he killed David’s rival. Or he may have thought David would look highly on him. Anywhere else in the ancient world, this circumstance was good for even lying about one’s accomplishments to a king.
David was not that way because he lived by the principle of not touching the Lord’s anointed. There were three offices anointed in Israel: Kings, Priests, and Prophets. Because they did the will of the Lord, David thought highly of them even if they were not measuring up to God’s call on their lives.
Even though Saul had long since lost the presence of the Spirit of the Lord upon him and his kingship, David understood that the anointing of the Lord lasted until death. Anointing is a ceremony where olive oil is poured out on the servants of the Lord before they begin serving him.
It was a symbol of the Holy Spirit coming upon a person so that they might complete their missions of serving God well. Even when David could capture King Saul, he refused to do so. It was all because of this principle.
So when this young man came from another country and told him that he was the one to kill the King of Israel, David returned the favor because the young Amalekite had killed, not just touched, God’s anointed. This is the reason the young messenger dies.