Saul Having Lost His Army at Gilboa, and His
Sons Being Slain, He and His Armor-bearer Kill Themselves.
1. Now the Philistines fought against
Israel—In a regular engagement, in which the two armies met
28:1-4), the Israelites were
forced to give way, being annoyed by the arrows of the enemy, which,
destroying them at a distance before they came to close combat, threw
them into panic and disorder. Taking advantage of the heights of Mount
Gilboa, [the Israelites] attempted to rally, but in vain. Saul and his
sons fought like heroes; but the onset of the Philistines being at
length mainly directed against the quarter where they were, Jonathan
and two brothers, Abinadab or Ishui (1Sa 14:49) and Melchishua, overpowered by numbers,
were killed on the spot.
3-5. the battle went sore against Saul,
&c.—He seems to have bravely maintained his ground for some
time longer; but exhausted with fatigue and loss of blood, and dreading
that if he fell alive into the enemy's hands, they would insolently
maltreat him (Jos 8:29; 10:24; Jud 8:21), he requested his armor bearer to
despatch him. However, that officer refused to do so. Saul then falling
on the point of his sword killed himself; and the armor bearer, who,
according to Jewish writers, was Doeg, following the example of his
master, put an end to his life also. They died by one and the same
sword—the very weapon with which they had massacred the Lord's
servants at Nob.
6. So Saul died—(see on 1Ch 10:13; Ho 13:11).
and his three sons—The influence of a
directing Providence is evidently to be traced in permitting the death
of Saul's three eldest and most energetic sons, particularly that of
Jonathan, for whom, had he survived his father, a strong party would
undoubtedly have risen and thus obstructed the path of David to the
and all his men, that same day
together—his servants or bodyguard (1Ch 10:6).
7. the men of Israel that were on the other side
of the valley—probably the valley of Jezreel—the
largest and southernmost of the valleys that run between Little Hermon
and the ridges of the Gilboa range direct into the Jordan valley. It
was very natural for the people in the towns and villages there to take
fright and flee, for had they waited the arrival of the victors, they
must, according to the war usages of the time, have been deprived
either of their liberty or their lives.
1Sa 31:8-10. The Philistines
Triumph over Their Dead Bodies.
8, 9. on the morrow, when the Philistines came to
strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons
fallen—On discovering the corpses of the slaughtered princes
on the battlefield, the enemy reserved them for special indignities.
They consecrated the armor of the king and his sons to the temple of
Ashtaroth fastened their bodies on the temple of Shen, while they fixed
the royal heads ignominiously in the temple of Dagon (1Ch 10:10); thus dividing the glory among their
10. to the wall—(2Sa 21:12)—"the street" of Beth-shan. The
street was called from the temple which stood in it. And they had to go
along it to the wall of the city (see Jos 17:11).
1Sa 31:11-13. The Men of
Jabesh-gilead Recover the Bodies and Bury Them at Jabesh.
11-13. the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard of
that which the Philistines had done—Mindful of the important
and timely services Saul had rendered them, they gratefully and
heroically resolved not to suffer such indignities to be inflicted on
the remains of the royal family.
12. valiant men arose, and went all night, and
took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons—Considering
that Beth-shan is an hour and a half's distance, and by a narrow upland
passage, to the west of the Jordan (the whole being a journey from
Jabesh-gilead of about ten miles), they must have made all haste to
travel thither to carry off the headless bodies and return to their own
side of the Jordan in the course of a single night.
burnt them—This was not a Hebrew
custom. It was probably resorted to on this occasion to prevent all
risk of the Beth-shanites coming to disinter the royal remains for