1 Chronicles 10 Study Notes
10:1 Without going into any of the details leading up to this event, the Chronicler takes us right to the death of Saul and his sons. The Philistines had come upon Saul’s army from the north, trapping Saul’s men on Mount Gilboa and killing those who could not escape. See 1Sm 31:1-13.
10:2 Jonathan and his two brothers were able warriors, but they could not hold out once the Israelite army fled.
10:3 Because the battle was going so well for the Philistines, the archers were in the middle of the fight and were able to deal Saul a mortal blow.
10:4-5 Saul knew the Philistines would torture him, but this did not give him the right to take his own life, let alone to ask his armor-bearer to do it for him. Only when the boy refused did Saul kill himself, and then his armor-bearer also committed suicide.
10:6 Not every member of Saul’s house died at that time, but the family unit, in the sense of Saul’s dynasty (his whole house), came to a halt.
10:7 Having defeated Saul’s army, the Philistines moved into the abandoned houses of the nearby villages, enjoying a false sense of security. They did not realize that David and his followers were already on their way.
10:8-9 The Philistines were more than willing to celebrate. They sent messengers out not only to inform the people but also to tell their idols about what had transpired. The irony of idolatry is that people entrust their lives to that which has no power. This is thoroughly satirized in Is 44 and Jr 10.
10:10 Saul’s armor—perhaps the very armor that David once refused to wear in his confrontation with Goliath—became decorative pieces in the Philistines’ temples. A special place was reserved for Saul’s skull in the temple of their main god, Dagon.
10:13 Saul was not as evil as many of the idolatrous kings who came after him, but a king who outwardly followed God but inwardly went his own way was worse than a king who did not make any pretense of following God. Saul’s apparent piety combined with his blatant disobedience (1Sm 13:7-14; 15:1-9) was unacceptable to God and served as a destructive example for onlookers.
10:14 Saul did make a show of inquiring of the Lord (1Sm 28:6), but this was purely fortunetelling; he dashed off immediately to speak to the now-departed Samuel. Not even the king was allowed to treat God as though he were a daily horoscope. The Chronicler also reminds us that it was God who led things in this direction and that the goal was for David to be placed on the throne.