Lord, I stand in awe of Your perfectly righteous judgment.
Read 1 CHRONICLES 10:1–14
Saul Takes His Life
10 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him.
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died. 6 So Saul and his three sons died, and all his house died together.
7 When all the Israelites in the valley saw that the army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon.
11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.
13 Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, 14 and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse.
New International Version (NIV)
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“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
In our introduction to 1 Chronicles, we noted that the author gives us a religious or spiritual interpretation of events in the days of Israel’s kings. This leads him to concentrate on David and his establishment of Jerusalem as the capital city of a united Israel. He focuses eventually on Solomon’s temple and its centrality to Israel’s religious life. Nevertheless, it may surprise the modern reader that Israel’s first king, David’s predecessor Saul, is allotted only one short chapter—and that one chapter makes no attempt to summarize Saul’s 40-year reign. It merely relates the circumstances of his violent death, offers an explanation or two, and cites the end of his royal line. As far as the Chronicler is concerned, Saul clearly has nothing to commend him.
Chapter 10 presents Saul in a very poor light, which contrasts sharply with other people mentioned in the passage. The author extols the “valiant men” of Jabesh Gilead for their courage in rescuing Saul’s and his sons’ remains from further humiliation in death (11,12). How faithful and courageous are we Christians in our divine King’s service?
Nothing, however, can sanitize Saul’s character. His downfall is clearly explained as a warning to us in verses 13 and 14. Refusing to obey God’s word—notably, dabbling in the occult—brought about his demise and the end of his dynasty at God’s own hand. The New Testament profiles the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira similarly to alert us to the danger of deliberate disobedience to God and his word (cf. Acts 5). Are we taking heed?
We cannot rely on God’s promises without obeying his commandments. Thank God now for his promises and ask for grace to obey his word.
Lord, thank You for supplying Your people with an example of the inadvisability of deliberately defying Your commandments.