1 Samuel 31 talks about how the army of Saul is routed by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. His sons, Jonathan, Malki-Shua, and Abinadab are brutally murdered and Saul takes his own life.
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The chapter finishes on the small note of courage as the men of Jabesh-Gilead took their bodies after the Philistines desecrate them and buried their remains in Jabesh and fasted for seven days.
Saul Takes His Life
The army of Philistines fought against the Israelites and they prevailed. They were in pursuit of King Saul as well as his sons. The fighting became fierce, and when Saul was hit by the archers, he was critically wounded. Saul told his armor-bearer to draw his weapon and run him through, so the uncircumcised might not run him through and see him.
But the armor-bearer refused to do so whereupon Saul grabbed the sword and took his life. When the king’s armor-bearer saw what had happened to the king, he also fell upon his weapon and died. Therefore, King Saul, his sons, and his army died on that day.
The News of Saul’s Death
The following day the Philistines came to the battlefield and found Saul’s body and his sons’ bodies laying on the ground. They chopped off Saul’s head and stripped his armor off. Then they sent messengers across their land to spread the news of the death of Saul and his three sons. They placed the armor of Saul in the temple of Ashtaroth and impaled his body on the Beth-shan’s wall.
Giving the Bodies Proper Burial
When the residents of Jabesh-Gilead received this news, their men marched the whole night. They recovered the bodies of King Saul and his sons, Jonathan, Malki-Shua and Abinadab and came to Jabesh where they burned them. When they buried their bones under the tree in Jabesh, they fasted for seven days.
1 Samuel 31 (King James Version)
1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons.
3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.
6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.
7 And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.
10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;
12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.
13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.