1 Samuel 31:1-13
31 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 critically. 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through 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 with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. 7 When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite 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 three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan. 11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.
Saul was anointed King when he was 30 years old. He reigns over Israel and brings the nation together in this time. However, he has many enemies and is at war a considerable amount of time.
His “fall” comes because he disobeyed God’s command and failed to carry out the law of total destruction of a conquered enemy – Amalekites. He brought back the best of the animals to the land of Israel, rather than destroying them.
I find this passage really sad. Saul watches his 3 sons die on the battle field and then he takes his own life falling on his sword; and as a result his armour bearer takes his life. The Philistines come along behead them, strip their armour and put it in the temple of idols (Ashtoreths). They take Sauls’ body and his 3 sons as “spoil” and fastens it to the wall of Beth Shan.
BUT, the mighty warriors of Jabesh Gilead hear what has been done to their King Saul. They march all night and take down the bodies and burn and bury them in Jabesh. They then fasted for 7 days.
Today we don’t have wars like this as such and rarely are Kings at war on the field. However in our era of social media we see Twitter wars, Facebook and Instagram discrediting people, television shows enhancing stories for “ratings” and fake news. No matter what Saul had become or was not; these valiant men (who are unnamed) choose to journey all night and bring honour and respect to Saul and his sons.
Let us all be valiant men and women, who consider what we say and where we say it. Maybe before we “share” we should ask ourselves “does this further the kingdom or discredit Jesus and His people?”
Father, help us all to become wiser and kinder. Help us to believe the best of others. Let us be the mighty men and women – who bring honour and respect. Help us to live out your word:
“Love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4 v 8) “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sin” Proverbs 10 v 12
Written by Ps. Sue Botta