1 Samuel 31:1-13
– The End of King Saul –
Southgate Alliance Church, May 17, 2020
This chapter picks up the story of Saul from where we left off in chapter 28:
The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 28:17-19
I. Remember Death
Tragic themes are concluded in 1 Samuel 31:
- Give us a king like the nations, the people said 8:19-20. So be it. They got King Saul.
- Saul’s rebellion against the Word of the Lord, in chapter 13 and in chapter 15 was the beginning of the end
- The curses that God warned about in Deuteronomy 28 were coming upon the people because their king had led them astray.
Summary of Saul’s life from 1 Chronicles:
So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. 14 He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14
See David’s attitude to the death of Saul and Jonathan:
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions. 2 Samuel 1:23
Hebrews 9:27 - … it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…
II. Seize Today
Saul had so much opportunity:
- He was chosen by God to be king – 1 Samuel 9
- Supernatural markers – the Spirit of the Lord came upon him when he was first chosen by God as king of Israel, he was turned into another man (10:6, 10).
- A great beginning – mighty and merciful (see 1 Samuel 11, more on that later)
- He did have the loyalty and support of some good men, especially at the beginning.
- He was given a mandate – The Lord said to Samuel, “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 9:16
Critical turning point – The rebellion of chapter 15. Saul responded to Samuel’s words with this half-hearted confession: “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.” 1 Samuel 15:30
The fact that Saul did not know the Lord was the root cause of his war with David. Summary statement:
Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. 1 Samuel 18:12
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7
III. Cling to Hope
The courage of the men of Jabesh-gilead:
See 1 Samuel 11:5-15
“…the Philistines awoke to discover that there was yet hope among the beleaguered people of God.” – Joyce Baldwin, 1 Samuel commentary
“The fact that 1 Samuel ends with a courageous act of gratitude toward Saul says more about God than it does about Saul.” - Baldwin
See 2 Chronicles 33:12-13
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:9-10
As we come to the end of 1 Samuel, consider again Hannah’s song at the beginning of the book:
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed. 1 Samuel 2:10
Text Application Questions for 1 Samuel 31:1-13 – The End of King Saul
Southgate Alliance Church May 17, 2020
Read 1 Samuel 31:1-13
Chapter 31 picks up the Saul story from the end of chapter 28. Why do you think the author of 1 Samuel went back and forth between David and Saul?
What did the Philistines do with the bodies of Saul and his sons when they came upon them? Why would they do this? Compare 1 Samuel 17:54
Why did the men of Jabesh-gilead risk their lives to honour the bodies of Saul and his sons? Compare 1 Samuel 11.
Both the people of Jabesh-gilead and David honoured Saul at his death (see 2 Samuel 1). Can we, and should we, honour people at their death, even if they don’t finish well from God’s perspective?
At the end of 1 Samuel, and at the end of Saul’s life, consider:
- Where did things go wrong for King Saul? What was his fundamental failure?
- What was the key difference between David and Saul?
- How can we be more like David and avoid Saul’s fate?
- If the key theme of 1 Samuel is “Looking for the King,” then how does 1 Samuel help us on this quest?
Discuss any other lessons that you have learned or questions that you may have from our time studying 1 Samuel.