The first group of Philistia’s soldiers had used their bows and arrows to attack Saul and the men near him. They probably killed some men in that attack, but they left many more men with terrible injuries. That first group of soldiers moved on quickly; other men would follow them.
There was no medical aid for the men who had suffered injuries. If they could still walk, they tried to escape. Men whose injuries were more severe could only lie on the ground. They waited for death to come. Some men would pray; other men would curse.
Saul was one of the men who hoped for death. He was too weak to escape, but he was too strong to die. He wanted to die, but death did not come.
Saul was aware that Philistia’s soldiers would be very cruel to him. They might lead him through the streets naked; men often did that to their prisoners. They might pull out his eyes (Judges 16:21). They might cut off his fingers or other parts of his body. They would certainly make him suffer before they killed him.
So Saul urged the one young man who remained with him to kill him. That man’s job was to carry Saul’s military equipment; he was one of Saul’s personal guards. He would have made a serious promise in front of God to defend the king’s life in every circumstance. That man would not be afraid to die for Saul, but he was much too afraid to kill Saul. Perhaps that was because of his promise. He did not dare to be responsible for such a terrible act.
So Saul had to kill himself. He took his own sword and he pushed it into his body.
Next part: How Saul died (1 Samuel 31:5)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.