The Death of Saul

Today’s Reading – 1 Chronicles 9 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – John 9 – 10; Psalm 41 – 45; Proverbs 9)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6

Read the “0509 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from this passage – “Who are the Nethinims?“ and “Too Big for His Britches.

“13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; 14 And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

“19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19)

Chapter nine concluded the genealogical chapters of 1 Chronicles. Beginning in chapter ten, the historical narrative portion of the book dealing with the kingdom of David begins. The chapters that remain in this book as well as 2 Chronicles all contain information that is covered also in some of the other historical books of the Bible. For example, 1 Chronicles 10 discusses the death of Saul and his three sons and this information is also given in 1 Samuel 31. The information in the following chapters in 1st and 2nd Chronicles can also be seen in 2 Samuel and 1st and 2nd Kings. There is a lot of overlap, but as was pointed out in a previous post, much of the information in Chronicles is unique, meaning that it contains some information that the other historical books exclude. If you were to really do a deep dive into any of the events contained in the remaining chapters of 1st and 2nd Chronicles, you would need to compare what Chronicles has to say with the other historical passages that deal with them also. The event discussed here in 1 Chronicles 10 can also be found in 1 Samuel 31:1 – 13. Note – if you follow along on Blue Letter Bible (see link above), you will notice that links are provided for the parallel passages.

It is important to note that outside of three mentions of Saul within the genealogical section of 1 Chronicles (chapters 1 – 9), chapter ten is the only chapter that discusses Israel’s first king, and then only speaks of his death. 1 Samuel, however, devotes many chapters to King Saul. The books of the Chronicles are primarily focused on David and his descendants who will occupy the throne of a united Israel and then following the split within the kingdom, the kings that sit on the throne of the southern kingdom of Judah.

Regarding the reasons given here in the chapter for Saul’s death, besides the fact that he was killed in a battle with the Philistines, the Bible states plainly that God was responsible for Saul’s death. The Philistines could not have gotten near Saul had God not permitted it. Saul’s usefulness as king had run its course. David later encouraged his son Solomon regarding the guarantee of God’s protection as long as he was fulfilling God’s will:

“20 And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)

According to 1 Chronicles 10:13 – 14, Saul was not fulfilling the will of God. Two examples are mentioned in the passage. The first was when Saul ignored what God had told him to do with the Amalekites (see 1 Samuel 15). He was ordered by God to destroy all of them, including the women and children, and even all the livestock that they owned. Granted, for any sane man possessing compassion for people, this would be a difficult order to obey. No normal person wants to kill the innocent and even though nobody is entirely innocent before God, children are certainly more innocent than the adult male Amalekites who were responsible for God’s wrath. Saul disobeyed God, not out of compassion for the people or pity upon the animals, but for political reasons. He spared the king and saved the best of the livestock, which he stated would be used for sacrifices. The prophet Samuel confronted Saul about his failure to obey. He told Saul: “… thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:26).

The second reason given in the passage for God’s judgment on Saul was because Saul consulted a witch in order to talk to the prophet Samuel, who had already died (see 1 Samuel 28). God had long since stopped speaking to Saul (1 Samuel 28:6), and the prophet Samuel was gone, so Saul resorted to witchcraft so that he could get advice from the grave. God did allow Samuel to appear to Saul, not because of the witch’s power, but because God would use this scenario to reveal to Saul that he was about to die, and that David would be succeeding him as king. What happened to Saul here in 1 Chronicles 10 was exactly what God told Saul would happen through this event regarding the witch and Samuel :

“15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do. 16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? 17 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me: for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even to David: 18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day. 19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 28:15-19)

What happened to Saul was a real shame. He started out humble and dependent upon the Lord, but eventually became very prideful and insecure. He was far more concerned what the people thought about him than he did the will of God. His pride destroyed not only destroyed him but negatively affected his family for generations to come. 

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Bob Fenton
Bob Fenton
19 days ago

Amen Pastor. Great thought.As Christians we have to be careful the direction our steps lead us too. Like the post .

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