The Enemy Kills Saul
Verses 3, 4 – The Philistines had a reputation for torturing their captives. Saul knew what had happened to Samson (Judges 16:18-31). Saul’s armor-bearer faced a moral dilemma. He knew he should obey the king, but murder was wrong so he refused to do it. There’s a difference in following an order you don’t agree with and following one you know is wrong.
Saul faced death the same way he faced life. He took matters into his own hands without thinking of God or asking for His divine guidance. When the time comes to face death, most will face it however, they have faced life-with or without God.
Verse 7 – The Philistines settlements in this region marked the enemy’s deepest penetration into Israel’s heartland, but after David became king, he subdued them and restricted them to the Judean coastal region.
Verse 8 – Part of plundering the enemy involved returning to strip the dead of their valuables. The Philistines victory had been so complete that no Israelites had dared try to rescue the bodies of Saul and his three sons.
Verse 9 – First Chronicles 10:10 notes that Saul’s head was placed in the temple of Dagon, perhaps at Ashdod (1 Samuel 5:1, 2), symbolizing Dagon’s victory over Israel’s king.
Verse 10 – To put Saul’s armor in the Philistines temple gave credit to a pagan goddess for victory over Saul. Ashtoreth was a goddess of fertility and sex.
Verse 12 – At Jabesh, they burned the bodies, not to ashes, but on a funeral pyre to remove the flesh, probably to protect them from further abuse by wild animals. They did what they could to honor the king.
Verse 13 – Saul’s death was also the death of an ideal – Israel could no longer believe that having a king, as other nations would solve all their problems Saul had tried to please God by spurts of religiosity, but real spirituality takes a lifetime of consistent obedience. Our spiritual lives are built by stacking obedience on top of obedience each day. By doing this we are building our character to be relied upon to accomplish God’s plans for our lives.