1Sa 31:1-6 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons. And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armorbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armorbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armorbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armorbearer, and all his men, that same day together.
In these six verses we have, in graphic detail, the death of King Saul. He was a man chosen by God, anointed by God and God’s man (Samuel anointed him with oil in 10:1; God anointed him with His Spirit in 10:10-11). This Benjamite placed on the throne of Israel had been given authority, power and potential never before granted to any man in history. He was king of God’s chosen people, Israel. He had before him opportunities never afforded another man before him. He was given the place of leadership, the power to execute God’s judgment, the authority to enforce God’s law. In this position Saul had only one to whom he must give account and that one was God Himself. Then, as now, God spoke to and through chosen men; Samuel, at that time, being the man of God who was to advice the king. Now we look back at him on the battlefield. He has just died and three sons with him.
This does not seem a fitting end for the first of the kings of God’s chosen people Israel. It just doesn’t fit when you look at it at first glance. Here is Saul, he has lost his sons in battle, he is sore wounded and dying. When he is finally able to taste death what a terrible death it was, the death of a coward. Terrible because he died with no presence of the love of family. There was no proud, valiant death in furious battle with the enemies of God. Neither was there merciful death of God allowing the soul to depart in peace. Instead, for fear of God’s enemies Saul sought death and God was allowing him to suffer. His soul lingered, his armorbearer refused to help him die and God was allowing him to contemplate the torture and humiliation which he would suffer at the hands of the Philistines. God had left it up to Saul to take his own life. What a terrible way to die. Saul lost a great deal in this battle. He lost a great deal more than most of us might realize. Let’s look at some of the things Saul lost in this battle.
First, we must realize that this short battle on the bloody ground of Gilboa is only a picture, a quick snap-shot, if you will, of a battle that has been raging in the heart of this man Saul for years by this time. What we see in these six verses is the result of this spiritual battle.
If you notice 1Samuel 28:4- Saul gathered Israel to Gilboa.
1Sa 28:4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
Where did they die? In Gilboa.
What is the significance? The could not even muster a charge.
The army of The Living God could not even make an attack. The Philistines came to Gilboa, they fell upon the Israelites, and they slew them because there was not enough power in the heart of the king to defend himself, much less an attack. All Saul could do was watch as death marched across his life. All he could do was watch as God took from him all that He had blessed him with. He died knowing full well that he had lost all.
Still, this slaughter upon the bloody battlefield of Gilboa is only a picture of the true battle that raged for years in the heart of the king. Let us look at some of the things that Saul had lost.
1Sa 31:2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons.
“and the Philistines slew Jonathan”….
All things in the scripture are significant. Names are no exception. Much is revealed in the word of God to the bible student who will examine the meanings of words and names. It is a very valuable means of understanding truth from the word of God. At the same time, study methods should be practiced responsibly. Care must be taken in lining up our studies with the whole of scripture. This is so in any study and in simply reading the scripture as well. You may think that is an awful immature thought but you must be careful when reading scripture to keep track of context. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, but that is no excuse for the careless disregard that the world has today for the word of God. If not for the misuse and abuse of the word of God we see today, religion would not be a dirty word.
The name “Jonathan” for example, means “whom Jehovah gave.” Here we have an open manifestation of the blessing of God. There is a wonderful blessing in being a father, and for some reason there seems to be an even greater desire among some people for a son. Saul had the blessing of God in his life for all to see and one day he lost this open manifestation of the blessings of God. We see the presence of God upon Saul in 1Samuel 10:10.
1Sa 10:10 And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
We have here an open manifestation of the presence of God in king Saul’s life. Every one knew he was different, he had changed, he was not his old self anymore. Well, when you got saved, if you are saved, the same thing happened to you. You became a new creature in Christ Jesus, you were changed and it shows. You are not what you were. If you have been born again you have a testimony. Jonathan dying in this battle is a picture of Saul losing his testimony. It did not just suddenly happen in our text, it had already happened way back in chapter 16. It was not only so but it was seen. His servants knew it to be so, but so did the whole nation of Israel.
1Sa 16:14-15 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
1Sa 25:28-31 I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid: for the LORD will certainly make my lord a sure house; because my lord fighteth the battles of the LORD, and evil hath not been found in thee all thy days. Yet a man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the LORD thy God; and the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling. And it shall come to pass, when the LORD shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel; That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offense of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself: but when the LORD shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid.
Abigail knew that Saul would be removed and David would become king.
Saul had lost his testimony.
You will see here that Abinidab means “nobility.” Saul had already lost his testimony but he also lost his nobility. In other words he lost his high station or rank. If we look back in 13:13-14 we find that he lost the kingship for intruding into the priest’s office.
1Sa 13:13-14 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
If you look up the name “Melchishua” you will find that it means “king of aid.” In looking at this we see that king Saul had lost his
Many times we have been reminded that if we lose all of our material wealth and possessions, as long as we can move the hand of God through prayer, we have all that we will ever need. Well, here we have the called, chosen, anointed, blessed king of Israel and he has lost all. If he had lost his testimony and repented, he could still have gone on for God. If he had lost the throne and repented, he could have still gone on for God. Instead he turned away from God and died at his own hand. A humiliating and cowardly way for a king to die in the midst of a battle.
But what was it that killed king Saul? What brought the very king of God’s chosen people to this tragic end? That is the question we can ask of many today. Many are dying on God. Many have wrecked their lives and their testimonies, lost God’s blessings, gotten out of position or out of the perfect will of God for their lives and now are suffering and dying because God has allowed them to choose and they have gone their own way. The same thing that killed king Saul is now killing the church. What killed king Saul?
He was dissatisfied!
He was dissatisfied with his church life…
Boy, is this a problem today. Here we have the king of Israel. He is the highest ranking man in the nation, and in the world. He is the final authority in the nation. One problem though, his rank and his authority are on the plain of carnal things. I am not talking about carnal as in sinful carnality, but the physical realm of this world and humanity. He was the final word. Obviously this was not enough for him. Here he was, king, he answered only to God. Of course, God spoke to the king through the man of God, Samuel. Let’s look at what took place.
1Sa 13:8-10 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
Yes, we have that problem in our day. People become dissatisfied with their church life and want something more. It just doesn’t seem to some that the man of God is doing his job quite right. Maybe he didn’t word his message to suit us. Maybe he just doesn’t do things exactly when we think he ought to. Maybe we think we could manage this or that a little better than he does. Let’s just stick to those carnal things which concern us. Leave the carnal things of others alone and while we are at it, we had better leave the spiritual leadership of the local church to the man that God has there for that purpose. Only one man is to lead, feed and intercede for the church, and that man is the pastor. King Saul was not satisfied with this man between him and God. He wanted to be able to go beyond the man of God. He could not stand the thought that this man was closer to God than he was. HE WAS THE KING! Who did this man think he was, advising the king? Don’t we get that way? “I’d like to know just who that preacher thinks he is, trying to tell me what to do.”
Oh yes, there are a lot of people like that. Are you one of them? You can look at king Saul and see that he was ruined and eventually died because he would not be satisfied with all of the great honour wherewith God had blessed him. He wanted more than God wanted him to have. Do you?
Saul was not this way at first. He was meek, he was humble. Only after God had made him king and blessed him, after he had won some battles, did he become dissatisfied. The blessing Saul enjoyed had blinded him to the one from whom all blessings flow and he had gotten proud. This really brings this message home doesn’t it. Many people are too proud to be taught, led, directed, or corrected. I have heard some complain that the pastor is too old, too young, to educated, or too uneducated. There are some in every church who are lifted up with pride and think they know more than their pastor. That was Saul’s problem too.
1Sa 15:17-19 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
How about that, “When thou was little in thine own sight.” In other words when Saul was humble. Saul had thought himself to be unworthy to be king. That is one of the reasons that he hid himself when it came time for him to be proclaimed king. Somewhere down the road he had lost that humility. Pride had crept in and ,as ever, “pride goeth before destruction.” Saul had become dissatisfied because he saw in Samuel something he did not have and in pride he coveted that power with God. In his pride he despised the man of God’s authority over himself the king. Saul wanted all and intruded into a place in which he did not belong. He was dissatisfied with his church life. He would not be in subjection to the man of God.
He was also dissatisfied with his social life.
1Sa 15:24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
If ever there has been a testimony to the fact that the fear of man bringeth a snare, it is before us here in king Saul. He said it himself, he transgressed because he feared the people. We are all guilty of this. Every one of us have failed God here at some time or other. Maybe we should stop here to scrape some of our calloused hides off and soften up a bit. Let us not look down our noses at Saul. Rather, let us still respect and honour his position while observing his humanity that we may grow thereby. It is true that we all are guilty of fearing the people at some time or other. Not necessarily a fear of being physically assaulted, but the fear of not being accepted or loved by all. Yes, we are all made of the dust, we are all weak. All men want to be accepted and loved. Saul was no exception. He wanted to be loved by the people. He was not satisfied with the kingship but he sought to be everybody’s best friend too. One thing we do forget is that you can not please all the people all the time. You will have enemies, you will be slandered, mocked, abused. It is a simple fact of life to the Christian. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
We must come to grips with the truth. We can not live for God and be everyone’s best friend. A father can not raise kids as a father and as their best-buddy too. That is what is wrong in most circles today. Parents have compromised their responsibility in order to keep their kids happy. You cannot train up a child in the way he should go without conflict. There will be conflict and there must be discipline. One of the responsibilities that comes with authority is that of accepting, even demanding or requiring the respect due you position. Here is where we find Saul dissatisfied. He wanted everyone to be happy with him. He wanted to please the whole crowd and it is not possible! You must accept the fact that someone is not going to like you. Some will actually hate you and all that you stand for. A father knows that there will be times that his children may be hurt or angered at him. Still, as a father this is a burden to be borne. For a preacher, he knows that there will be many who will not like him. Many may be angry or hurt at him but he must preach the whole counsel of God. We must not compromise to make friends. We must stand firm on God’s word. We must satisfy ourselves with the station that God has given us in life.
You will notice also that Saul was dissatisfied with his spiritual life.
1Sa 28:5-7 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.
Here we have the king of Israel, chosen, called and anointed, in a very bad position. His testimony is wrecked, his kingship is quickly being taken from him, he is being threatened by the enemies of God and now he is trying to pray and to no avail. God is not interested in what He is hearing from Saul. Saul can not get any help from God to get him out of the mess that he has gotten himself into. He wants God to give him victory once again, or warn him not to go. He is wanting the very God that he won’t obey and won’t follow to give him victory.
Before we try to be to hard of him let us examine ourselves. We are often neglectful of God. We often forget God and what His word says. Isn’t it convenient, we can choose to forget some things when we want too.
This is the way that so many of us get ourselves in a mess. Maybe we want something God does not want us to have. Maybe we want to do something God does not want us to do. Or maybe we don’t want to do something that God does want us to do. We are just like Saul. We often see someone who will give us exactly what we want. Old Balaam did this long before Saul did. If you remember Balaam in Numbers 22, the king of Moab sent and asked Balaam to come and curse Israel. After being told not, he tried to bribe Balaam.
Num 22:16-17 And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
This is just too much, Balaam went to God again and again and God refused to allow him to curse Israel. Instead, God made Balaam bless Israel. But Balaam was so desirous of reward from Balak that the bible tells us he turned against God and sought help elsewhere.
Num 24:1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
Old Balaam could not get what he wanted from God so what did he do? He turned to another source for help. He fought against God. The only thing in creation which will help you fight against God is the devil himself. He is really not able to fight God, but he does rebel. Balaam rebelled against God for wicked gain. Saul did just what Balaam did. He wanted help God would not give, he sought to do what God would not, he sought a witch, a demon, the devil, because he simply was not satisfied. He fought against God and even went so far as to swear protection for that witch from the very God whose law he was supposed to enforce.
1Sa 28:10 And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing.
Saul has come a long way from being the humble Benjamite of 1Samuel 9:21. Now he feels himself above God’s law and able to protect the devil himself. No wonder the judgment pronounced by Samuel. God was tired of all this. His Spirit had ceased to strive with Saul and he had allowed him to sin unto death. Now all was at an end and the prophet Samuel was sent to give the news.
1Sa 28:19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
In other words Saul had gone too far and God was going to take him down. Saul would be dead the next day, and his sons with him. What a sad end for the most powerful man alive next to the man of God. What a sad end for the king of Israel. And all because Saul was dissatisfied. That is not the end of the story though. In 1Chronicles 8 we find that Saul had another son.
1Ch 8:33 And Ner begot Kish, and Kish begot Saul, and Saul begot Jonathan, and Malchi-shua, and Abinadab, and Esh-baal.
We have seen that…
“Johathan” means “whom Jehovah gave”
“Malchishua” means “king of aid”
“Abinidab” means “nobility”
And now we see that Saul had another son who was not in the battle with him. This son was at home in safety. His name tells us all. The name “Eshbaal” means “man of baal.” He is also known in 2Samuel 2:8 as “Ishbosheth” which means “man of shame.”
2Sa 2:8 But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul’s host, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;
Saul had allowed sin and idolatry to come into his life and his home, and thereby his family: He had named his own son after the false god Baal and he died in shame. The man who was vested by God with the Glory of the king of Israel left nothing in this world to remember him by but shame. What a sobering thought. If the king can so easily be taken down, how careful ought you and I to be in following God with a whole heart. Let us learn as Paul that in whatever state we are, therewith to be content.
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