Then said Saul unto his armourbearer
Who, the Jews F2 say, was Doeg the Edomite, promoted to this office for slaying the priests:
draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith;
for if he was wounded, yet not mortally, and it is certain he did not so apprehend it. It is much the sword of the armourbearer should be sheathed in a battle; but perhaps he was preparing for flight, and so had put it up in its scabbard:
lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me;
lest they should not dispatch him at once, but put him to a lingering and torturing death, and insult him, and mock at him, as they did Samson:
but his armourbearer would not, for he was sore afraid;
to lay his hand on the king the Lord's anointed, to take away his life, being more scrupulous of doing that, if this was Doeg, than of slaying the priests of the Lord; or he might be afraid of doing this, since should he survive this action, he would be called to an account by the Israelites, and be put to death for killing the king:
therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it;
or rather "the sword", the sword of his armourbearer, and so was a suicide: the Jews endeavour to excuse this fact of Saul, because he knew he should die in battle from the words of Samuel; and being pressed sore by the archers, he saw it was impossible to escape out of their hands and therefore judged it better to kill himself than to fall by the hands of the uncircumcised; but these excuses will not do. Josephus F3 denies he killed himself; that though he attempted it, his sword would not pierce through him, and that he was killed by the Amalekite, and that that was a true account he gave to David in the following chapter; though it seems rather to be a lie, to curry favour with David, and that Saul did destroy himself.
F2 Hieron. Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 77. B.
F3 Antiqu. l. 6. c. 14. sect. 7.