Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3

The Death of King Saul

I Samuel 31


         A sad end to a sad story

         The Philistines fought against Israel: The Philistines attacked deep into Israelite territory (1 Samuel 28:4), and Saulís army assembled and prepared for battle at Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4). However, Saul was not ready for battle: When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled (1 Samuel 28:5). This shows he had no expectation for God to deliver him, and why should he?

         Saul made matters worse by consulting a spiritual medium (witch at Endor) instead of turning to God. God interestingly did speak to Saul through an unusual appearance of Samuel. Samuel warned Saul of the coming judgment and told him that he and his sons would die in battle the next day (I Samuel 28:19). I Samuel 31 is the next day chronologically.

I.                    (1Sa 31:2) The death of Saulís sons.

a.      This was a tragedy in every sense of the word- not just for Saul but for Jonathan!

b.      Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saulís sons: Tragically, Saulís sons were affected in the judgment of God against their father Saul. The brave and worthy Jonathan died loyally fighting for his God, his country, and his father the king unto the very end.

c.       Their death was tragic, yet important in Godís plan. In taking the logical heirs to Saulís throne, God cleared the way for David. Yet, there would be one surviving son that David would have to contend with- Ishbosheth (II Samuel 2:8, 4:12)

II.                  (1Sa 31:3-6) The tragic end of King Saul

a.      Saul, struck by many arrows and severely wounded, knew the battle was completely lost. He pleaded with his armorbearer to kill him, and when he would not, Saul killed himself (Saul took a sword and fell on it).

b.      Saulís death was not suicide in the way most people think of it today. He was already mortally wounded, so he did not cause his own death so much as he simply accelerated it

                                                              i.      The suicide rate has been rising here in America.

                                                            ii.      Even many wealthy, popular celebrities are not immune

                                                          iii.      This shows that we must be settled on Christ- all other ground is sinking sand!

c.       When his armorbearer saw that Saul was dead: In 2 Samuel 1:4-10 an Amalekite came to David with the report that Saul had died in battle and that he actually delivered the death-blow to Saul. Does the Amalekiteís statement contradict this passage, where it seems Saul killed himself? It may be that Saul fell on his sword, and life still lingered in him, so he asked this Amalekite to finish him off. Or it may be that the Amalekite simply lied and was the first one to come upon Saulís dead body, and that he told David that he killed him because he thought David would be pleased and he would be rewarded.

d.      The debate over who killed King Saul is answered simply- God did. He pronounced judgment on Saul just as He did to Hophni and Phinehas- and God kept fulfilled his promise of judgment. Just as He will against our world one day!

III.                The aftermath of the Philistine victory- v. 7-13

a.      V. 7- The victory of the Philistines was so complete that even those on the other side of the Jordan fled in terror before the Philistines.

b.      This was a great defeat. When the leader (King Saul) was struck, it spread panic among Godís people

c.       We see more of the effects of Saulís sin

                                                              i.      Everything rises and falls on leadership- Lee Roberson

                                                            ii.      This shows why leaders have a higher responsibility, because their fall can endanger many more people than the fall of someone who is not a leader

                                                          iii.      Parents, church leaders, all of us must make sure we are following the Lord and setting a good example!

d.      V. 8-10 The Philistines disgrace the corpses of King Saul and his sons.

                                                              i.      They were gruesome and grisly, and made a show of Saulís body

                                                            ii.      To handle Saulís corpse in this way was a great disgrace in that culture. It was considered a fate worse than death!

e.      V. 9-10 Saulís death was used to glorify pagan gods and to mock the living God.

f.        (1Sa 31:11-13) The men of Jabesh-Gilead end the disgrace of Saul and his sons.

g.      The men of Jabesh-Gilead took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from their place of humiliation and gave them a proper burial.

h.      These valiant men are also recognized for their gratitude. Many years before Saul delivered their city from the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:1-11), and they repaid the kindness God showed them from the hand of Saul. Upon taking the throne David rightly thanked these valiant men for their kindness to the memory of Saul, Jonathan and Saulís other sons (2 Samuel 2:4-7)

i.        When David heard of Saulís death, he did not rejoice. In fact, he mourned- II Samuel 1

j.        Despite his own sin, David never followed in the same tragic footsteps as King Saul.


         What happens at the end of a life marked by rebellion/selfishness/disobedience

         Was Saul saved?

o   We are saved by faith not by works- so we cannot know his heart (I Samuel 16:7)

o   But we can look at the fruit and decide if he gave evidence of being a believer. His works overall definitely betray one who should be a believer

o   Arguing against Saulís salvation is his record of jealousy, hatred, and murder. Saulís rule as king was characterized by failure and rebellion. He directly disobeyed God (1 Samuel 15:1Ė35) and broke Godís law by offering a sacrifice that only priests were to offer (1 Samuel 13:1Ė14). Saul was visited by evil spirits on several occasions (1 Samuel 16:14; 18:10; 19:9). Saul spent much time and energy trying to murder David (1 Samuel 18:10; 19:10; 23:14); he even tried to murder his son Jonathan once (1 Samuel 20:33). Incredibly, King Saul ordered the slaughter of eighty-five innocent priests and their families (1 Samuel 22:18Ė19). He consulted a witch and asked her to conjure Samuel up from the deadóanother direct violation of Godís Law (1 Samuel 28:1Ė20). Saul ended his life by committing suicide (1 Samuel 31:4).

o   Those who believe that Saul was saved point to the fact that he was chosen by God (I Samuel 9:15-16) and then used by God to prophesy (I Samuel 10:10-13) and to defeat the Philistines (I Samuel 14:47-49). Saul walked in the flesh for most of his life and therefore disobeyed the Lord. It doesn`t necessarily make him unsaved. It could just makes him a disobedient believer, some say, and the Lord disciplined His child in the way He saw fit.

o   In 1 Samuel 28:19, the spirit of Samuel tells Saul, ďto morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.Ē These words indicate Saulís fate. Samuel definitely predicts the kingís death. The question then becomes, do Samuelís words ďwith meĒ refer broadly to Sheol, the place of the dead, or do they refer more specifically to the abode of the righteous? A case could be made either way, but the fact that Saulís son Jonathan was a righteous man argues for the idea that Saul joined Samuel in the abode of the righteous.

o   I think Saul was a carnal believer- why would God choose an unsaved man as king, and why would Samuel predict that Saul would join him in eternity?

         Either way, this is a sad case, and a truly tragic ending left as an example for us.