1 Samuel 31

1 The Philistines made war on Israel. The men of Israel were in full retreat from the Philistines, falling left and right, wounded on Mount Gilboa.
2 The Philistines caught up with Saul and his sons. They killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua, Saul's sons.
3 The battle was hot and heavy around Saul. The archers got his range and wounded him badly.
4 Saul said to his weapon bearer, "Draw your sword and put me out of my misery, lest these pagan pigs come and make a game out of killing me."
5 When the weapon bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.
6 So Saul, his three sons, and his weapon bearer - the men closest to him - died together that day.
7 When the Israelites in the valley opposite and those on the other side of the Jordan saw that their army was in full retreat and that Saul and his sons were dead, they left their cities and ran for their lives. The Philistines moved in and occupied the sites.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to rob the dead, they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa.
9 They cut off Saul's head and stripped off his armor. Then they spread the good news all through Philistine country in the shrines of their idols and among the people.
10 They displayed his armor in the shrine of the Ashtoreth. They nailed his corpse to the wall at Beth Shan.
11 The people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul.
12 Their valiant men sprang into action. They traveled all night, took the corpses of Saul and his three sons from the wall at Beth Shan, and carried them back to Jabesh and burned off the flesh.
13 They then buried the bones under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted in mourning for 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.

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