1 Samuel 31
-The final chapter in this saga between the initial king of Israel, Saul, and the man after God’s own heart who would begin the eternal spiritual Kingdom of Israel, David, plays out with the death of King Saul. The Philistines were fighting the Israelites as the action picks up with the Israelis fleeing from their counterparts and being slain on Mount Gilboa. Saul was overtaken in the conflict along with his sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua. The three sons were killed in the malaise, and the battle went heavy against Saul, just as Samuel had prophesied from the grave (1 Samuel 28:1-25). Now it was Saul who would fall. The Philistine archers hit him and badly wounded him. The king commanded his armor bearer to draw his sword and finish him off, but in fear the servant could not bring himself to kill the king even in a merciful situation. Therefore, seeing that all hope was lost and that his enemies would make sport of him and pierce him through anyway, he took his sword and fell on it committing suicide in his waning moments. When the armor bearer saw this happen, he too lost all desire to live and fell on his sword as well. Thus they died together, the king, the armor bearer, and Saul’s three sons, on that day (1 Samuel 31:1-6). David had treated his king with the utmost respect and loyalty with no part in the demise. Soon it would be his kingdom in Israel. God had made a way and kept David’s character in tact through every twist and turn to fulfill his call and anointing.
-When the men of Israel saw what was going on from the other side of the valley beyond the Jordan to the east, they abandoned their cities and fled. Therefore, the Philistines came and lived in them immediately. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain for spoil, they found the corpse of Saul along with his three sons. They taunted Israel in their victory by cutting off the head of the former king and stripped him of his weapons sending them throughout their land in jubilation to their idols and people. God was mocked by these pagans, and Saul’s weapons were put in the temple of Ashtaroth. Not only that, but they fastened the king’s body to the wall of a major thoroughfare city, Beth-shan, for full and gruesome display of the vanquished. At this point, some valiant men of Jabesh-gilead who had heard the terrible news of what the Philistines had done to Saul arose and walked all night to take back the body of their fallen leader and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. Once confiscated, they came to Jabesh and burned the flesh of the deceased. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree that was there in Jabesh. After that, they fasted for seven days. This is how the book of 1 Samuel concludes (1 Samuel 31:7-13).
-*Application* This untimely death of Israel’s king was not just a physical death, but the destruction of an ideal. Israel’s whim to have a king who could save them and solve all their troubles was burst and destroyed, like the army of Israel on Mount Gilboa. Israel’s real issue was not their form of government, as we will see later with the kingdom of David, but the sinfulness and double-mindedness of their king. Spurts of religious conviction were not enough to establish Saul, nor will it be for us. Real spirituality takes surrender to the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ by faith and a lifetime of dedicated-consistent obedience. Over time, our lives will show the fruit on Christ’s righteousness in us. Day by day we give our lives away as God’s power becomes more and more prominent. Continual-abiding growth is His desire for us (John 3:30).
Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 31:6