1 Chronicles 10


The Death of King Saul

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The narrative of Israel as a kingdom begins with the death of Saul, who failed to fulfill God’s purposes for him as king and for Israel as a nation. Saul’s death prepares the way for David, whom the Chronicler regarded as the first true king of Israel.”

        • Now the Philistines fought against Israel. The men of Israel fled from the Philistines and many of them fell dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. The battle was thick around Saul; the archers spotted him and wounded him. Saul told his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through with it or these uncircumcised men will come and torture me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and refused to do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his own sword and died. So Saul died, he and his three sons- his whole household died together. When all the Israelites in the valley saw that the army had run away, and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their cities and ran. Then the Philistines came and settled in them.

        • As HCSB notes, “The Chronicler’s source here was 1 Sm 31, and he copied it nearly word for word. However, the parallel account does have a little difference in v. 6. The Samuel account has all of Saul’s men dying, while the 1 Chronicles account has his whole house dying. What are we to make of the phrase “his whole household died together”? If we are to take that as all of Saul’s family then it is just false since only three of his sons are mentioned as dying and we know that one surviving son, Ishbosheth, later became king over Israel even though he was not recognized as king by all of Israel. I’ll cite two commentaries:

          • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “In Samuel ‘his armourbearer and all his men.’ The reference is rather to Saul’s servants than to his family.”

        • Pulpit Commentary: “In place of these words, the parallel (1 Samuel 31:6) has, ‘And his armour-bearer, and all his men, that same day together.’ This reading avoids the ambiguity referred to already (ver. 2). In either passage the moral is plain, that the end and ruin of Saul’s family as a whole had arrived, rather than literally that the whole, including every member, of that family had perished.”

        • The next day, when the Philistines came to strip loot from the corpses, they found Saul and his sons dead on Mount Gilboa. They stripped Saul, took his armor, cut off his head, then sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines proclaiming the good news to their idols and to their people. They placed his armor in the temple of their gods and hung his head in the temple of Dagon. When all those who lived at Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their mighty warriors went and recovered the bodies of Saul and his sons, and brought them to Jabesh. They buried their bones under the oak tree in Jabesh and fasted for 7 days.

          • On the “temple of their gods” NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “Identified in 1 Sam 31:10 as the ‘temple of the Ashtoreths’ (i.e., of Astarte) in Beth Shan…It is likely, given the close proximity of the expressions, that the ‘temple of Dagon’ was also there. Three Iron Age Canaanite temples have been discovered at the site.”

        • ESV Study Bible remarks, “Saul had saved Jabesh-gilead at the beginning of his reign (1 Samuel 11), a fact that the men of the city remembered, giving a proper burial to Saul and his sons. However, David later reburied their bones ‘in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father.’ (2 Sam 21:14).”

        • So Saul died because of his unfaithfulness. He was unfaithful to Yahweh in that he didn’t obey Yahweh’s commands, and he also sought guidance by consulting a medium. He didn’t seek guidance from Yahweh, so Yahweh put him to death and turned the kingdom over to Jesse’s son David.

          • ESV Study Bible says, “This is the Chronicler’s theological explanation for the death of Saul, caused by his breach of faith (Hb ma’al); see 2:7; 5:25; 9:1), and expressed especially in failing to keep the command of the Lord (see 1 Sam 13:13), consulting the medium of En-dor (1 Samuel 28), and failing to seek the Lord, which here denotes not the search for a prophetic oracle (which Saul had sought; see 1 Sam 28:6) but rather the deficiency of his basic spiritual condition (see 1 Chron 28:9). Therefore the Lord…turned the kingdom over to David (10:14). This is the main point of this chapter. A second decisive turning point from God in the history of the kingdom occurs in 2 Chron 10:15, when Rehoboam ‘did not listen to the people.’”

          • Guzik writes, “The story of King Saul is one of the great tragedies of the Bible. He was humble at his beginning, yet seeming to lack any genuine spiritual connection with God, he was easily and quickly corrupted by pride and fear. Saul becomes a tragic example of wasted potential…Saul did not have a genuine connection with God and did not seek God for the difficulties of his life. He consulted a medium for guidance, but not the LORD God.” He then cites Morgan:

            • Saul was a man than whom no other had greater opportunities, but his failure was disastrous. Of good standing in the nation, distinctly called and commissioned by God, honored with the friendship of Samuel, surrounded by a band of men whose hearts God had touched, everything was in his favor. From the beginning he failed; step by step he declined in conduct and character, until he went out.”

        • Referencing the statement that Saul had not consulted Yahweh, Guzik adds, “It does say in 1 Samuel 28:6 that Saul did inquire of the LORD.” He then cites Poole:

            • Such an inconsiderable and trifling inquiry as Saul made, is justly accounted to be no inquiry at all; as they are said not to eat the Lord’s supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20, who did eat it in a sinful and irregular manner.”

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