I Samuel 31

As men live, so will they die.
Those are indeed in a deplorable condition, who, despairing of the mercy of God,
would leap into a hell before them thinking to escape the hell within them.
We all need to pray, “lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4).

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 Malchi-shua, 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 Beth-shan.

11 ¶ And when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 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 Beth-shan, 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.

I Samuel 31:1-13 – One Brave Deed on a Dark Day

   This defeat meant something more than a temporary reverse. It was symptomatic of national decay. Saul’s reign had brought moral degeneracy to his people. Their moral fiber was impaired, their life-blood impoverished. As king and people were weighed in the divine balances (which are ever testing us), they were found wanting. No man can sin alone! Sin becomes an epidemic!
   Much had happened since Saul’s designation as king. Alas, that so bright a dawn should have clouded in such a sunset! Like a noble tree Saul fell before the storm. He fell because he had never prayed, as David did, to be cleansed from secret faults, and to be held back from presumptuous sins. The only gleam of light on that terrible day was the chivalrous deed of Jabesh-gilead. Her sons could never forget Saul’s valorous exploit on their behalf. After the manner of Joseph and Nicodemus at the death of our Lord, they identified  themselves with what seemed a lost cause. Would that every reader of these lines was equally grateful and generous in confessing Him who delivered us from a yet greater death!

I Samuel 31:11-12—All the valiant men…

   This was a noble and generous act. At the beginning of his reign, in the early dawn of youthful promise and prowess, when he was the darling of the nation, Saul had interposed to deliver their beleaguered city. And now, as the awful tidings of his defeat and suicide spread like fire through the country, the men whom he had succored remembered his first kingly act, and showed their appreciation for his kindness by doing a strong and chivalrous deed in rescuing his remains from dishonor. They could not help him, but they could save his honor. When David heard of this act, he sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead, thanking them for their chivalrous devotion to the memory of the fallen king, and promising to requite the kindness as one done to the entire nation, and to him.
   Are we careful enough of the honor and name of our dear Lord? He has done for us spiritually all that Saul did for Jabesh Gilead, and more. He has delivered our soul from death, our eyes from tears, and our feet from falling. Let us be swift to maintain the honor of his name among those who are so apt at making it their scorn.
   It was well that these men did not wait for others to act. Had they done so, the body of Saul might have rotted piecemeal on the walls of the temple at Bethshan. If they had left this act of reparation for Abner, or Ish bosheth, it would never have been done. There is no order of precedence, when a wrong has to be righted, or a friend vindicated. The man who is next must act. Let us strike into the fray, and count that our opportunity is warrant enough. He who can, may.