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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: 1 Samuel

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FRAMEWORKS: 1 Samuel 31: Israel's defeat & Saul's death


v.1-3 Saul is seriously injured in the fight against the Philistines

v.4-6 Saul's death by suicide

v.7-10 The Philistines triumph

v.11-13 Some Israelites recover Saul & Jonathan's bodies



v.1-3 Saul is seriously injured in the fight against the Philistines


v.1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa.

v.2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua.

v.3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.


[Notes: The battle with the Philistines ensues and as Israel are losing, Saul's three sons are killed and Saul is seriously injured.]



v.4-6 Saul's death by suicide


v.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.

v.5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him.

v.6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.


[Notes: Saul instructs his armour bearer to finish him off so he doesn't fall into enemy hands, but the man can't bring himself to do it, so Saul does it himself. Bear this in mind when the story unfolds in 2 Samuel. There is a total rout of Israel.]



v.7-10 The Philistines triumph


v.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.

v.8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa.

v.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.

v.10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.


[Notes: The Israelites thus flee before the Philistines who take the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and hang them out for display.]



v.11-13 Some Israelites recover Saul & Jonathan's bodies


v.11 When the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul,

v.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.

v.13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.


[Notes: The book closes with some of the courageous Israelites recovering their bodies and cremating them and burying the bones. It is the end of Saul's reign. It is very much like the end of a modern TV series that ends on a crisis, with big question marks over the future. What will now happen to Israel, and what will David do, still living in the far south?]