It’s judgement day. David has just triumphed over his enemies and conquered them completely. He’s shared his spoil with everyone he knows. But Saul? Saul is being attacked and overpowered by the Philistines. He, and his whole company are about to go down in flames.
Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. ~1 Samuel 31:1-5
First, Saul experiences the pain of watching his own sons die before his eyes. Surely there is no worse punishment on earth than to see your children die as a result of following you. Be careful how you walk, parents.
Note that Jonathan is the first named among the dead. This ought to be a lesson to those who would have true affection and deep love for the best men, yet continue to follow the worst.
Finally, Saul himself is wounded. Even as his worst fears are realized, he turns not to God or to prayer. In death, as in life, all Saul can see is himself. He seeks to drag his servant into his death and, while the man refuses to participate in murder, suicide becomes a favorable option for one who so closely follows a man so grievously self-centered.
Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. ~1 Samuel 30:6-7
They all died together. Whoever was left ran away in fear. The enemy moved in to their city uncontested.
Those who follow selfish, foolish, prideful cowards will die together with them. The remnant bails. The enemy takes over and makes himself at home.
Not only do they make themselves at home, they showcase their brutality and victory over Israel by decapitating Saul and hanging up his body (1 Samuel 31:8-13.) At last, justice is served and the wicked King Saul was shown for who he truly was.
Those who follow God, win – just like those who followed David. Those who follow wicked earthly kings, lose – just like those who followed Saul. The former live together in honorable victory. The latter die together in shameful defeat. No matter which side you’re on, God will have his way in the end. Amen.
This concludes my study of the book of 1 Samuel.