1-Samuel - 31:1-13

The Death of Saul

      1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines followed hard on Saul and on his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle went hard against Saul, and the archers overtook him; and he was greatly distressed by reason of the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me!" But his armor bearer would not; for he was terrified. Therefore Saul took his sword, and fell on it. 5 When his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he likewise fell on his sword, and died with him. 6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor bearer, and all his men, that same day together. 7 When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and those who were beyond the 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 lived in them. 8 It happened on the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head, and stripped off his armor, and sent into the land of the Philistines all around, to carry the news to the house of their idols, and to the people. 10 They put his armor in the house of the Ashtaroth; and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. 11 When the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard concerning him 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 Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. 13 They took their bones, and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Chapter In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of 1-Samuel 31.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

A battle in Mount Gilboa between Israel and the Philistines; in which the former are defeated, and Saul's three sons slain, 1-Samuel 31:1, 1-Samuel 31:2. Saul, being mortally wounded, and afraid to fall alive into the hands of the Philistines, desires his armor-bearer to despatch him; which he refusing, Saul falls on his sword, and his armor-bearer does the same, 1-Samuel 31:3-6. The Israelites on the other side of the valley forsake their cities, and the Philistines come and dwell in them, 1-Samuel 31:7. The Philistines, finding Saul and his three sons among the slain, strip them of their armor, which they put in the house of Ashtaroth, cut of their heads, send the news to all the houses of their idols, and fasten the bodies of Saul and his three sons to the walls of Beth-shan, 1-Samuel 31:8-10. Valiant men of Jabesh-gilead go by night, and take away the bodies; burn them at Jabesh; bury their bones under a tree; and fast seven days, 1-Samuel 31:11-13.

This chapter gives an account of the battle between the Philistines and the Israelites, which had been preparing for, and the issue of it; in which Saul, his three sons, and his servants, were slain, upon which his army fled, and several of his cities were taken, 1-Samuel 31:1; what the Philistines did with his body and his armour, 1-Samuel 31:8; the former of which, together with the bodies of his sons, the men of Jabeshgilead rescued, and burnt them, and buried their bones under a tree at Jabesh, expressing great sorrow and concern, 1-Samuel 31:11.

(1-Samuel 31:1-7) Saul's defeat and death.
(1-Samuel 31:8-13) Saul's body rescued by the men of Jabesh-gilead.

Death and Burial of Saul and His Sons - 1-Samuel 31:1-13
The end of the unhappy king corresponded to his life ever since the day of his rejection as king. When he had lost the battle, and saw his three sons fallen at his side, and the archers of the enemy pressing hard upon him, without either repentance or remorse he put an end to his life by suicide, to escape the disgrace of being wounded and abused by the foe (1-Samuel 31:1-7). But he did not attain his object; for the next day the enemy found his corpse and those of his sons, and proceeded to plunder, mutilate, and abuse them (1-Samuel 31:8-10). However, the king of Israel was not to be left to perish in utter disgrace. The citizens of Jabesh remembered the deliverance which Saul had brought to their city after his election as king, and showed their gratitude by giving an honourable burial to Saul and his sons (1-Samuel 31:11-13). There is a parallel to this chapter in 1-Chronicles 10:1-14, which agrees exactly with the account before us, with very few deviations indeed, and those mostly verbal, and merely introduces a hortatory clause at the end (1-Chronicles 10:13, 1-Chronicles 10:14).

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