July 18th, 2019
1 SAMUEL 31:1-13
Sustained by God’s Word of Promise
1 Samuel 31:1-13: Today’s reading recounts the death of Saul and his sons. Saul was supposed to be the one who would rescue Israel from the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 9:16), but he is fatally wounded. He kills himself in order to avoid being humiliated and tortured.
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: 1 SAMUEL 31:13
Then they took the bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in town, and fasted for seven days.
THE DEATH OF SAUL AND HIS SONS
(1 Chronicles 10.1-12)
1The Philistines fought a battle against the Israelites on Mount Gilboa. Many Israelites were killed there, and the rest of them, including King Saul and his sons, fled.2But the Philistines caught up with them and killed three of Saul’s sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua.3The fighting was heavy around Saul, and he himself was hit by enemy arrows and badly wounded.4He said to the young man carrying his weapons, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that these godless Philistines won’t gloat over me and kill me.” But the young man was too terrified to do it. So Saul took his own sword and threw himself on it.5The young man saw that Saul was dead, so he too threw himself on his own sword and died with Saul.6And that is how Saul, his three sons, and the young man died; all of Saul’s men died that day.7When the Israelites on the other side of Jezreel Valley and east of the Jordan River heard that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had been killed, they abandoned their towns and fled. Then the Philistines came and occupied the towns.
8The day after the battle the Philistines went to plunder the corpses, and they found the bodies of Saul and his three sons lying on Mount Gilboa.9They cut off Saul’s head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers with them throughout Philistia to tell the good news to their idols and to their people.10Then they put his weapons in the temple of the goddess Astarte, and they nailed his body to the wall of the city of Beth Shan.
11When the people of Jabesh in Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,12the bravest men started out and marched all night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall, brought them back to Jabesh, and burned them there.13Then they took the bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in town, and fasted for seven days.
Saul told his servant, his weapons carrier, to kill him, but the servant refused, perhaps because he knew that God would punish anyone who killed God’s chosen king (1 Samuel 26:9). The servant then killed himself in the same manner as Saul. It was common in the ancient world for a military leader’s servant to kill himself when his master died in battle. What are your thoughts about this practice? What had the Philistines done to Saul’s body? What did the people of Jabesh do?
Lord God, you are loving and merciful. Watch over and protect all who may be in harm’s way this day. Surround them with your steadfast love and care. Amen.
Those serving in the armed forces
2 Samuel 1:1-27: David learns of Saul’s death.