King Saul is about to die in battle, but what kind of legacy is he leaving behind.
Back in chapter 26 and verse 21 of 1 Samuel, Saul realized he had sinned and told David he had “Played the fool.” In what way did Saul play the fool?
- Saul neglected advice from his godly friend, Samuel. (2) He went before God ever sent him. (3) Saul disobeyed God even in small matters. (4) He tried to cover up his disobedience to God with religious excuses. (5) Saul had persuaded himself that he was doing the will of God. (6) He allowed jealousy and hatred to enslave him. (7) He fought against God by always hunting for David, to kill him. (8) And last but not least, he sought spirit’s from the beyond to know the future.
Saul did all these things but could have been a mentor to David. That brings us to the battlefield.
1 Samuel 31:1-4 – So the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. (Verse 2) Then the Philistines followed hard after Saul and his sons. And the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons. (Verse 3) Now the battle became intense against Saul; and the archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers. (Verse 4) Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, least these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore, Saul took a sword and fell on it.
This battle had completely turned on Saul. The Israelite army was in full retreat. Now we can see why God got David and his men out of there. They would have had to fight against their own people, which I don’t think David would have done.
Sometimes when we get turned down for a position, loan, or have to wait on something, how do we not know that God isn’t saving us from a big disaster? God can stop us from going along with the crowd for our safety because He always knows what waits ahead.
So Saul and his three sons all die in the same day, even Jonathan, David’s beloved friend.
Isn’t it odd that there’s no scripture of Saul crying out to God, in those last moments, only that he didn’t want the Philistines to find him wounded and helpless. He was still trying to save face. That happens when disobedience dulls our senses. We are so concerned about what others will think or say but not so much concerned with what God thinks.
1 Samuel 31:7 – And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, and those who were on the other side of the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his son’s were dead, they forsook the cities and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
Then in verses 8 and 9, the next day the Philistines came back to the slain bodies and striped all the armor and equipment. Then they find King Saul’s body, cut off his head, and tool it with them.
1 Samuel 31:10 – And they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreth’s, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.
How tragic. Saul didn’t have to die like that, but inch by inch and day by day he chose to compromise in disobedience. He dulled his senses; he nullified his testimony that he could have had.
When Saul lay down at night, I’m sure he was full of guilt, despair, and bitterness. That kind of thinking will be like acid eating at your insides, but that was Saul’s choice. He could have walked with God and been a blessing to Israel. Remember, at first he had God’s blessing until he chose to walk his own way.
For forty years, Saul gained hardly any territory for Israel. Beth Shan was not that far from where Saul was inaugurated as king of Israel. His body wound up only a few miles from where he started. However, the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead, a town east of the Jordan River, heard that Saul and his sons were on display and decided to go get them (1 Samuel 31:11-13).
With Saul’s death, it looks like all hope is gone for the nation of Israel. It looked like the Philistines had won. However, with Saul dead it will usher in David’s king line, which led to the Messiah. In addition, that brought the most incredible miracle of all. We take the preached Word of God and He changes lives because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, all part of God’s plan.