The Death of Saul

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Thursday, February 1, 2007
1 Samuel 31:1-13 (1) Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. (2) And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons. (3) And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. (4) Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (5) And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. (6) So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together. (7) And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. (8) And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. (9) And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people. (10) And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan. (11) And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; (12) All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. (13) And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days. The book of First Samuel here closes out on a melancholy note as God's justice catches up with Saul. It is sad to see Saul's son, Jonathan slain here. Jonathan was a better son than Saul deserved and was a dear friend to David yet he was here consumed by the same fire that consumed Saul. Perhaps there is a warning here to the wise: godly people who maintain company with sinners may fall prey to God's judgments upon those sinners. Had not God forcibly extracted Lot from Sodom as a mercy (GEN 19:16) he would have shared in its fate. Jesus warned His disciples to flee the wrath to come upon Jerusalem (LUK 21:20-22). It appears that it was not only Saul who was a bloody man that invited wrath but also his house according to 2SAM 21:1 so Jonathan was indeed amongst much bad company. "Evil pursueth sinners..." (PRO 13:21) and those who insist on or persist in their company should remember Moses' word to Israel at the gainsaying of Korah, "...Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins" (NUM 16:26). God's word to His beloved within Mystery Babylon is not, "Stay there that perchance you might reform her," but "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (REV 18:4). We see also in our text today the depraved treatment the Philistine victors gave the bodies of Saul and his sons. It is here noted that they intended to "...publish it in the house of their idols..." (v.9) and the account of this in 1CH 10:9 notes that they would "...carry tidings unto their idols..." It cannot be much of a god that is not even aware of his own worshippers' victories close by. The Gentile gods were not only "dumb idols" (1CO 12:2) that could not speak, but also deaf and blind, and "They that make them are like unto them..." (PSA 135:18). Idolatry is truly stupid. We note in our text the manner of Saul's death: falling on his own sword (v.4). It is appropriate that he should die this way. Saul had ordered the butchering of the priest and his house at Nob (1SAM 22:16-19). Moses had pleaded years earlier concerning the priests of Levi, "Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise up against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again" (DEU 33:11). We are moved at the valor of the men of Jabeshgilead here in tending to the body of Israel's fallen first king (vs.11-13); we are reminded of the boldness of Joseph of Arimithea who tended to the body of Israel's true and last king (MAT 27:57-60), and we are grateful for the tender treatment that the latter gives our bodies in their demise, for in time He "...shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself" (PHIL 3:21). We shall be afforded a dignity that we in no wise deserved.

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