1 Samuel 31

Saul Takes His Life

1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa.
2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua.
3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it.
5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.
6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
7 When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.
9 They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people.
10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.
11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,
12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them.
13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.

1 Samuel 31 Commentary

Chapter 31

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

Verses 1-7 We cannot judge of the spiritual or eternal state of any by the manner of their death; for in that, there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked. Saul, when sorely wounded, and unable to resist or to flee, expressed no concern about his never-dying soul; but only desired that the Philistines might not insult over him, or put him to pain, and he became his own murderer. As it is the grand deceit of the devil, to persuade sinners, under great difficulties, to fly to this last act of desperation, it is well to fortify the mind against it, by a serious consideration of its sinfulness before God, and its miserable consequences in society. But our security is not in ourselves. Let us seek protection from Him who keepeth Israel. Let us watch and pray; and take unto us the whole armour of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Verses 8-13 The Scripture makes no mention what became of the souls of Saul and his sons, after they were dead; but of their bodies only: secret things belong not to us. It is of little consequence by what means we die, or what is done with our dead bodies. If our souls are saved, our bodies will be raised incorruptible and glorious; but not to fear His wrath, who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell, is the extreme of folly and wickedness. How useless is the respect of fellow-creatures to those who are suffering the wrath of God! While pompous funerals, grand monuments, and he praises of men, honour the memory of the deceased, the soul may be suffering in the regions of darkness and despair! Let us seek that honour which cometh from God only.

Cross References 20

  • 1. S 1 Samuel 28:4; 1 Chronicles 10:1-12
  • 2. S 1 Samuel 28:19
  • 3. S 1 Samuel 18:1
  • 4. S 1 Samuel 14:49
  • 5. S 1 Samuel 28:4; 2 Samuel 1:6
  • 6. S Judges 9:54; 2 Samuel 1:6,10
  • 7. S Genesis 34:14; S 1 Samuel 14:6
  • 8. S 1 Samuel 26:10
  • 9. 2 Samuel 1:20
  • 10. 2 Samuel 1:20; 2 Samuel 4:4
  • 11. S Judges 16:24
  • 12. S Judges 2:12-13; S 1 Samuel 7:3
  • 13. S Joshua 17:11; 2 Samuel 21:12
  • 14. S Judges 21:8; S 1 Samuel 11:1
  • 15. Psalms 76:5
  • 16. S Genesis 38:24; 2 Samuel 2:4-7; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Amos 6:10
  • 17. 2 Samuel 21:12-14
  • 18. S Genesis 21:33; 1 Samuel 22:6
  • 19. 2 Samuel 3:35; 2 Samuel 12:19-23; 2 Samuel 1:12
  • 20. S Genesis 50:10

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 31

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, 1Sa 31:1-7; what the Philistines did with his body and his armour, 1Sa 31:8-10; 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, 1Sa 31:11-13.

1 Samuel 31 Commentaries