Philistia’s soldiers had killed so many of Israel’s men that their success in the battle was already certain. However, there was still one man whom they very much wanted to kill.
For the last 40 years, King Saul of Israel had been Philistia’s fiercest enemy. During all that time, he had led his nation’s army in constant battles against Philistia. The war was continuous during his rule; the two nations were never at peace.
Saul was now, of course, an old man, but he remained a powerful leader. His speeches to Israel’s soldiers were impressive; he knew how to persuade them to fight well. Even the fact that he was present at a battle gave great confidence to his men.
Of course Philistia’s soldiers had tried to kill Saul during previous battles. They had not succeeded because Israel’s men defended him so well. Israel’s soldiers realised how important Saul was to them.
However, in this last battle, Philistia’s soldiers saw their opportunity to attack Saul. Israel’s army was weak because so many of its soldiers had died. So Philistia’s commanders sent more men to fight in the area where Saul was. In particular, they sent men with bows and arrows.
Those men shot many arrows into the air round Saul. They did not know whom they had hit. They left the men whom they had injured to die. Then they continued to chase after their enemies who were still alive.
There was much confusion. Nobody knew what had happened to Saul. In fact, one of the arrows had injured him badly. He had fallen to the ground. Only one man, his personal guard, remained with him.
Next part: Saul wants to die (1 Samuel 31:4)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.