David Parham 940-322-4343
Website: Internet Bible Studies
I Samuel Menu
Introduction: We continue our study on Samuel this week. In
last weekís lesson, we studied about David returning back to Ziklag
from the battle that was to begin with Israel and the Philistines to
find that the Amalekites had invaded and burned the city and taken
the women and children captive. After a time of mourning, David led
his men to overtake the invaders and recovered all of their families
and took a great spoil from the Amalekites. In this final chapter of
I Samuel, we return to the events surrounding Saul. While David was
in pursuit of their families from the Amalekites, Saul was coming to
a showdown with the Philistines. This picks up where we left off in
chapter 28 concerning Saul and the battle that ensues where Saul and
his 3 sons are killed.
I. Saulís Death and Defeat
1 Sam 31:1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men
of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in
1 Sam 31:2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon
his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and
Melchishua, Saul's sons.
Verse one picks up right where we stopped in Chapter 28. Saul had
just learned that he would face death the following day after
spending the night at a sťance with the witch of Endor. Samuel had
attempted to pray and try several other avenues to reach God, but
finally stooped so low as to have a witch call up Samuel to find out
what would transpire. Israelís defeat and Saulís death were
pronounced by Samuel. The fighting was intense and the Israelites
battled the Philistines here at Mt. Gilboa. This was a mountainous
country that rose up from the southeastern end of the valley of
Jezreel. The battle went poorly for Israel and may died there on
Mount Gilboa. The rest of the troops along with Saul and his sons
fled in defeat with the Philistines hard on their heels.
Unfortunately for Saul, the Philistines overtook them and three of
Saulís sons died here. (Jonathan, Abinadab, and Melchishua.)
1 Sam 31:3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers
hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
Although he temporarily escaped, the battle went sore against
Saul and the archers hit him and he was severely wounded. The wounds
were very bad, and Saul was mortally wounded.
Matthew Henry said the watching of his sons die may have been
worse than death itself for King Saul.
He sees his sons fall before him. The victorious
Philistines pressed most forcibly upon the king of Israel
and those about him. His three sons were next him, it is
probable, and they were all three slain before his face, to
his great grief (for they were the hopes of his family) and
to his great terror, for they were now the guard of his
person, and he could conclude no other than that his own
turn would come next. His sons are named (v. 2), and it
grieves us to find Jonathan among them: that wise, valiant,
good man, who was as much Davidís friend as Saul was his
enemy, yet falls with the rest. Duty to his father would not
permit him to stay at home, or to retire when the armies
engaged; and Providence so orders it that he falls in the
common fate of his family, though he never involved himself
in the guilt of it. 1. God would hereby complete the
vexation of Saul in his dying moments, and the judgment that
was to be executed upon his house. If the family must fall,
Jonathan, that is one of it, must fall with it. 2. He would
hereby make Davidís way to the crown the more clear and
open. For, though Jonathan himself would have cheerfully
resigned all his title and interest to him (we have no
reason to suspect any other), yet it is very probable that
many of the people would have made use of his name for the
support of the house of Saul, or at least would have come in
but slowly to David.
1 Sam 31:4 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.
1 Sam 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he
fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
After being severely wounded, Saul perceived that his death was
imminent. Dreading the insult and possible torture of being killed
by the Philistines, Saul urges his armor bearer to finish the job.
The young man feared to kill Godís anointed and refuses to take part
in Saulís death. Upon his refusal, Saul took out his own sword and
fell on it. There is some confusion as to when exactly Saul died. It
says that the armour bearer perceived that Saul had died, and that
he fell upon his sword and liked died. However, in II Samuel Chapter
1, we read of the testimony of an Amalekite speaking to David who
said he passed by and Saul was still alive and he actually killed
2 Sam 1:5 And David said unto the young man that told
him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be
2 Sam 1:6 And the young man that told him said, As I
happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned
upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed
hard after him.
2 Sam 1:7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and
called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
2 Sam 1:8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I
answered him, I am an Amalekite.
2 Sam 1:9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon
me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my
life is yet whole in me.
2 Sam 1:10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I
was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen:
and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the
bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither
unto my lord.
J. Vernon McGee said this about the archer that shot King Saul.
It is the beginning of the end for Saul. First he was hit
in battle by an archer. Apparently it was someone who did
not recognize that he had hit the king. It was, shall we
say, a real bullís-eye. It is also tragic that Jonathan was
slain in this battle. This is remarkable because on another
occasion when Jonathan was fighting the Philistines, he slew
250 of the enemy at one time. This shows how hopelessly
outnumbered Israel was at this time. This could well have
been a battle in which David and Jonathan would have been on
opposite sides, but God had intervened.
So we find that Saul is wounded. .
1 Sam 31:6 So Saul died,
and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same
1 Sam 31:7 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
Saulís death with his three sons and armourbearer caused the
Israel forces to retreat. This was a dark day for Israel. The
remainder of Saulís forces on the other side of the valley of
Jezreel perceived their king was dead and they fled. So did all of
Israel of that region on that side of the Jordan River. The distance
from Mount Gilboa where the battle began over to Jordan was about
fifteen miles as the crow flies. The Philistines moved in and
occupied the empty cities of Israel in that region.
II. Saulís Body is Rescued by the Men of Jabesh-Gilead
1 Sam 31:8 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.
1 Sam 31:9 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.
1 Sam 31:10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth:
and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
Verse 8 returns to the immediate aftermath of the battle. Saul
had just cause in not wanting to perish directly in the hands of the
Philistines. When they found his body the next day, they not only
strip his armour, but they cut off his head. They sent the armour
back to Philistia as a trophy of their great victory. They put it in
the house of their false gods and celebrated the victory in their
pagan temples. Saulís armour wound up in the temple of Ashtaroth who
was a pagan feminine idol of the Canaanites. The Philistines took
the decapitated body of Saul and nailed it to the wall of a city
name Bethshan. This was a city on the edge of the western side of
the Jordan River valley. As Saul had feared, the Philistines
endeavor to inflict every indignity they could upon him.
1 Sam 31:11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of
that which the Philistines had done to Saul;
1 Sam 31:12 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.
1 Sam 31:13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a
tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.
Jabeshgilead was an Israelite community in Gilead about ten miles
east of the Jordan River. When word reached them of what had
happened to Saul and how the Philistines had desecrated his body,
the immediately arose and traveled through the night to recover the
bodies of Saul and his sons. They accomplish their goal and recover
Saul and his sonís bodies and take them back to Jabesh. There is not
harmony among the various opinions as to what happened next. It was
foreign to Hebrew custom to cremate bodies of the dead, so many view
that there was a burning made for them. In other words, they had a
great fire as a memorial to them. That certainly was the case in the
burial of later Jewish kings.
2 Chr 16:13 And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in
the one and fortieth year of his reign.
2 Chr 16:14 And they buried him in his own sepulchres,
which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid
him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers
kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: and they
made a very great burning for him.
2 Chr 21:18 And after all this the LORD smote him in his
bowels with an incurable disease.
2 Chr 21:19 And it came to pass, that in process of time,
after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of
his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people
made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers.
Iím not one to question Godís Word and believe the Word of God
says things exactly as it was meant to be said. I personally believe
that due to the condition of the bodies and the time that had
elapsed, that they burned the bodies just as it says. If this was
the case, then they may have feared that the Philistines might come
and try to further abuse the bodies of Saul and his sons. One way or
the other, they bury the bones and the city of Jabesh mourned seven
days by fasting over their dead king. David would soon recognize the
men of Jabesh for their gallantry in honoring Saul.
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finding Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, contact David
Parham at 940-322-4343.
Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
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