Northland International University has announced that it will soon be closing.1 How should fundamentalists, especially those of us who have strongly disapproved of the direction that the recent leadership of Northland has taken the school, respond to this development?
Like many other fundamentalists, I regarded it as a great tragedy when the recent leadership of Northland adopted the use of non-conservative music on the campus. Many fundamental churches who have given sacrificially for years to support Northland likely believe that the leadership has betrayed them.
Given what has taken place at Northland in these recent years, it would be natural for some to think that Northland is getting what it deserves for its departure from its conservative roots. Some of us who might be inclined to think that way might think that responding to the upcoming closing of Northland by lamenting that closing would be a strange response.
My recent reading of 2 Samuel 1:17-27, however, makes me think that lamenting the closing of Northland is a right response to its tragic downfall.
The Remarkable Record in 2 Samuel 1:17-27 of David’s Lament for Saul
In spite of David’s having been very good to Saul throughout the years that they had known each other, Saul, prior to his death, fiercely persecuted David for years and sought many times to kill him. David, therefore, would seem to have had great justification for hating Saul and for rejoicing that Saul would no longer be around to afflict David.
After learning of the death of Saul and Jonathan, however, David remarkably chanted a lament over the death of Saul:
2Sa 1:17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
In this lament, David does not say anything about any of the evil actions of Saul! Rather, David only speaks positively of Saul and remarks of how Saul was “lovely and pleasant” in his life (2 Sam. 1:23; see also 2 Samuel 1:19).
He also extols him for his swiftness and strength (2 Sam. 1:23) and exclaims how Saul was a man of mighty exploits (2 Sam. 1:19, 21, 22, 25, 27). David then directs Israelites to weep over the demise of Saul because of his goodness to them (2 Sam. 1:24).
Application of 2 Samuel 1:17-27 to the Closing of Northland
I believe that it is not coincidental that God directed my attention to 2 Samuel 1:17-27 just a relatively short time before I recently heard about the likelihood that Northland International University would be closing. God has used this passage to instruct and challenge me about how I should respond to the tragic downfall of Northland.
Northland has produced many choice servants of Christ during its years of operation. Their excellent Christian character and living has commended the gospel to many lost people.
God has used Northland greatly for good in this country and the world for many years. The brethren at Northland have mightily served to advance the cause of Christ for many decades.
The upcoming closing of Northland International University will be a great loss for the people of God around the world. I believe that those of us who are fundamentalists should lament the closing of Northland, even as Scripture records that David lamented the tragic demise of Saul.
1 See this statement on the university’s website.