1 Samuel 31

Listen to 1 Samuel 31

The Death of Saul

1 1Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain 2on Mount Gilboa.
2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down 3Jonathan and 4Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul.
3 5The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers.
4 6Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these 7uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me." But his armor-bearer would not, 8for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword 9and fell upon it.
5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him.
6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together.
7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.
9 So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, 10to carry the good news 11to the house of their idols and to the people.
10 12They put his armor in the temple of 13Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of 14Beth-shan.
11 15But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,
12 16all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh 17and burned them there.
13 And they took their bones 18and buried them under 19the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and 20fasted 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. For ver. 1-13, see 1 Chronicles 10:1-12
  • 2. 1 Samuel 28:4; [2 Samuel 1:6, 21; 2 Samuel 21:12]
  • 3. 1 Chronicles 8:33
  • 4. [1 Samuel 14:49]
  • 5. [2 Samuel 1:6]
  • 6. [Judges 9:54]
  • 7. See Judges 14:3
  • 8. [2 Samuel 1:14]
  • 9. [2 Samuel 1:10]
  • 10. [2 Samuel 1:20]
  • 11. [Judges 16:23, 24]
  • 12. [1 Samuel 21:9]
  • 13. See Judges 2:13
  • 14. Joshua 17:11
  • 15. 2 Samuel 21:10; See 1 Samuel 11:1-11
  • 16. 2 Samuel 2:4-7
  • 17. [2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19; Jeremiah 34:5]
  • 18. 2 Samuel 21:12, 14
  • 19. [1 Samuel 22:6]
  • 20. [Genesis 50:10]

Chapter Summary


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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.