We learn that the Philistines fought against Israel, killed Saul’s three sons, and wounded him critically. Saul asks his armor-bearer to run him through in fear that the uncircumcised Philistines would abuse Saul’s body (v. 4).
The armor-bearer wouldn’t do it, so Saul falls on his own sword. The armor-bearer follows his master in death. Thus, the prophecy of the deceased Samuel (brought up from the dead by the witch of Endor) comes true: “18 Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce
wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. 19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.” (I Sam. 28.)
The Philistines take over the Israelite towns, cut off Saul’s head, and strip off his armor. His body is fastened to a wall for public display. The people of Jabesh Gilead valiantly march through the night, retrieve the bodies of Saul and his sons, and burn them. They bury their bones under a tamarisk tree and fasted for seven days. (v. 13).
What a sad story!
Some takeaways for me:
1. To be sure, Saul was not a man who finished his life well. Might he have conquered the Philistines if his jealousy had not caused him to chase David all over the countryside? What if David and his men had been able to join forces with Saul? Needlessly dividing God’s people is never a good idea.
2. God allows the truth delivered by the spirit of Samuel to become reality as Saul and his sons die. One especially laments the death of David’s friend Jonathan.
3. The bravery of the men of Jabesh Gilead is admirable. Where is courage in my life to do what needs to be done?
Thus endeth our study of I Samuel. There is so much in this OT book that merits further study. Thank you for sticking with me in our work together!