1 Samuel Chapter 31

Saul and the Israelites had gathered together to fight against the Philistine army. Saul had fear and went searching for guidance from any source he could. He was told through witchcraft, that the Israelites would be defeated and that he and his sons would be killed. Meanwhile, the Philistine rulers had sent David away from their ranks, out of fear that he might turn against them. David went to fight his own battles against his enemies and to rescue his family and the families of his men, who had been taken captive. While David was away, these two armies camped and prepared for battle. This chapter begins as follows:

1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons.
3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.

The fighting began, and the Israelites fled and were killed. The Philistines went after Saul and his sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchi-shua. Saul’s sons were killed and Saul was wounded by the Philistines. Saul commanded his servant to kill him, so that their enemy would not do it and worse, to abuse him. His servant refused, so Saul fell upon his own sword. His servant killed himself as well.

This was an awful defeat for Israel, and the end of the reign of Saul and his family. Saul knew well before this battle and seeking out the witch, that it was only a matter of time before he would loose everything. This was because he had been promised by the Lord, through the prophet Samuel, that he would not maintain the kingdom for long. Although Saul had once been anointed by the Lord, he had become a wicked and selfish man, who would not hearken to the Lord’s council. This battle fulfilled the promised curse to Saul and his family.

7 And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.

The Israelites who were in the area around the valley, saw what happened and they fled from their homes and cities. The Philistines took the cities and found the bodies of Saul and his sons among the dead. They made it known throughout their land, what they had done, and they put Saul’s armor on display and hung his body on a wall.

11 And when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;
12 All 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 came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.
13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

When the Israelites men of Gilead heard what had happened and what was done to the body of Saul, several of them went by night and took the bodies of Saul and his sons. They went to Jabesh and burned their bodies. Then they fasted for seven days, which I believe was done after dealing with the bodies of the dead.

The end of Saul, as tragic as it sounds, was expected to come, because it was a promise from the Lord. The sad thing about this story, is that his end, also meant the end of his line. This meant that Jonathan, who was a beloved friend of David, and who seemed to be a man who was trying to do what was right, was also going to die. This was sure to be hard for David to eventually hear.

The lesson I see in this chapter, is that the promises of the Lord will come to pass. They happen in the Lord’s time and not according to our own plans. David expressed that he knew, that the Lord would bring Saul down in his own way and in his own time. He did not need to kill him when the opportunity arose, because the Lord had a plan and it would happen. Because David was not a part of this, he had no guilt or lasting consequences that would effect his eventual rule in Israel. We can know by this, that promises which have been given to men, or to us personally by the Lord, will someday come to pass. We need to be as David was, and trust in the Lord and his timing. I know in my own life that this can be a frustrating lesson to learn, because it seems that the time is too long to bear, or that we have done all we can do. However, when we recognize that it is better to trust God, and we go forward in faith, we can experience greater blessings along the way to receiving the promises.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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