1 Samuel, Chapter 31

- נ י ת -

The People of Jabesh-Gilead Bury Saul

Saul’s inevitable demise has come. The Philistines have the upper hand in the battlefield, exactly as Samuel had said they would. Saul chooses to stab himself with his sword rather than falling into the hands of his enemies. Saul and his sons, including Jonathan, die. Samuel’s last prophecy has been fulfilled. At the very time when David crushes the Amalekites, Saul dies. His death is the tragic tale of a sinner who, despite many opportunities to repent, fell prey to his destructive impulses time after time. 

The Philistines find the bodies of Saul and his sons and desecrate them. They then hang them on the wall of Beth-Shean. The people of Jabesh-Gilead, whom Saul had once saved from the Ammonites, repay his valor by burying his and his sons’ remains. Saul is finally granted eternal rest. The message conveyed here is that our kind deeds will be ultimately rewarded, if not in this life, then in the afterlife – just as the people of Jabesh-Gilead repaid Saul’s heroism after his death.

“Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa…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” (1 Samuel 31:1-4)

“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…And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan” (1 Samuel 31:8-10)

Humanity, or humane behavior, is actually God-like behavior – creating and blessing, rather than causing hurt or damage.