Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 31

Israel suffers a terrible defeat

1 Samuel 31:1

In 1 Samuel chapter 30, the author has recorded the events in Davidís life during a period of several days. The author now returns to the day after Saulís visit to Endor (1 Samuel chapter 28). His purpose is to tell what happened during Israelís battle against Philistia.

That battle was one of the worst battles in Israelís history. It began near a place that even today is famous for its battles: Armageddon, also called the Plain of Megiddo. Revelation 16:16 describes a future great battle that will happen there.

It seems that the battle went east from there, into the Valley of Jezreel. Between the Plain of Megiddo and the Valley of Jezreel, there are a series of steep hills, called the hills of Gilboa. Israelís army had camped on these hills (28:4). When the fight became very severe, Israelís soldiers tried to escape across these hills.

Philistiaís soldiers could see that they were winning the battle. So, they chased after Israelís soldiers. They shot arrows after them. It was impossible for the soldiers to defend themselves while they were running away. They could only run in the hope that they would reach a safe place. Many men suffered terrible injuries and died on those hills. There was nobody to help them.

For the last 40 years, Saul had been leading Israelís army in frequent battles against Philistiaís army. Sometimes he had been successful, and sometimes he had suffered defeat. However, neither army had suffered such a terrible defeat as Israelís men suffered that day.

Next part: The death of Jonathan (1 Samuel 31:2)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.