Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 28

Philistia’s plan for Saul’s last battle

1 Samuel 28:4-5

By this time, Saul was probably more than 80 years old. For his whole life, he had been fighting battles against Philistia’s army. He probably thought that he knew every possible plan for a battle between Israel and Philistia. However, Philistia’s plan for his last battle seems unlike any battle that Saul had ever known.

Ancient Israel had three main parts, and they were all in the hills. The southern part was the hills of Judah. Battles between Israel and Philistia usually happened in the hills of Judah or on the border between Judah and Philistia. The central part of Israel was the hills of Ephraim, which were next to the hills of Judah. The northern part was the hills of Galilee.

Between Galilee and Ephraim, there is a great plain, which runs to the coast. That plain is very important for agriculture. In Revelation 16:16, it is called by the name Armageddon. The east part of the plain is called the valley of Jezreel. Philistia’s army had made their camp for this battle on the north side of that valley.

That was a bold position. Philistia’s vast army had marched for 3 days to get there. Saul could see that Israel was in great danger. Philistia’s army had established a vast camp in the middle of Israel and it had control over Israel’s best agricultural land.

Saul immediately ordered every man in Israel who could fight to join Israel’s army. Their camp was on the south side of the valley, opposite Philistia’s camp. Gilboa was a hill on that side of the valley; there Saul would die.

Saul could only see Philistia’s camp from a distance. However, he could see that it was a vast camp. He knew that Philistia’s leaders had organised their attack well. He felt very afraid. The situation was very serious.

Next part: How God gave messages to Israel’s kings (1 Samuel 28:6)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.