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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 31

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-13

Chapter 31

Now the Philistines fought against Israel: the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons. And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded from the archers. Then Saul said to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through with it; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it ( 1 Samuel 31:1-4 ).

So Saul was hit by an arrow, and he knew he was gonna die, but he was afraid that the Philistines would come and mutilate his body, torture him when they got him. So he asked his armourbearer to kill him, but he was hesitant to do so. Saul set out his spear, and he fell on his spear. But even then he didn't die. It said, "then he died." But actually the next chapter as we get into second Samuel, we'll find that actually he still hadn't died, he was still lying there, and this Amalekite came by and he raised himself up, the spear to him, and pleaded with the Amalekite to kill him, which he did.

And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, [That is he thought he was dead.] he fell likewise upon his sword, and he died with him. So Saul died, his three sons, his armourbearer, and all of his men, the same day together. When the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and those that were on the other side of Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled, and Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the Philistines came to strip the slain, and they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head, and stripped his armour, and sent it into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people. And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan ( 1 Samuel 31:5-10 ).

Now Bethshan is right at the northern edge of Mount Gilboa. It's the end of the range, it was a city that-the ruins are still there. In fact, the walls of Bethshan still stand today, that is the ancient ruins. They've been excavated some. The Philistines cut off his head, and then pinned his body on the wall there at Bethshan. It is near Mount Gilboa, a city that was nearby and so...

The inhabitants of Jabeshgilead [Now Jabesh-gilead was over on the other side of the Jordan River.] when they heard what they had done to the body of Saul; The valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and they came to Jabesh, and they burnt them there ( 1 Samuel 31:11-12 ).

So they cremated Saul and his sons.

Now occasionally people ask me my opinion of cremation, and it is just this, as far as I'm concerned, cremation is only a speeding up of the natural processes. Cremation will do in thirty-seven minutes, what eremacausis will do in thirty-seven years. It's just the speeding up the processes of the destruction of this body. Ultimately, your body even in the grave is gonna deteriorate and go back to dust. Cremation only hastens the process.

I see no spiritual kind of a reason for not being cremated. I don't think that it's wrong if a person wants cremation. I don't see anything wrong with cremating a person's body. I don't see any spiritual significance at all to the whole thing. Saul and his sons were all cremated, and the Bible doesn't say anything against it, or "Oh, that was so horrible," or "that was so wrong," or whatever. So actually it's only a shell, it's only a tent that has been worn out and is no longer of any value.

What they do to my body after my spirit moves out, I could care less. If my cornea in my eyes are of any value to anybody, they're welcome. If my kidneys are of any value, they're welcome. If my heart is of any value, they're welcome. They can do whatever they want to this old body once my spirit moves out, I could care less. If they want to save money and cremate the thing, fine. Because I'm not gonna be around to worry about it. I'm gonna be so stoked with the new model that's been given to me, that I have no desire to hang on to the remnants of this old thing. Appreciate the body that God has given to me, I appreciate the good years, but this old house isn't what it used to be. As time goes on, it's becoming less all the time.

Paul the apostle said, "We who are in this body do often groan earnestly desiring not that we might be unclothed, but that we might be clothed upon with a body which is from heaven"( 2 Corinthians 5:2 ). You know after a certain period of time you start getting tugs and pulls from the other side. You've seen it all, you've lived, and you think, "Well hey Lord, I'm ready. I've seen enough of this corrupt world, and this world system."

Paul said to the Philippians, "Hey, I have really mixed emotions for I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is much better, and yet, I feel that you still need me for awhile, and so for your sake, I want to still be around. I love you, and I love your fellowship, and I like being around you, but man I'm really tugged also from the other side because it'd be so neat to just be with the Lord, and to get it on there with Him."

Just mixed emotions, and I think that there are times when each of us as children of God have these same mixed emotions. We desire to depart and to be with the Lord which is far better, and yet we still feel the responsibilities and the tugs from the needs that there exists still for our presence, or help, or influence, or whatever to those that we love around us. So those mixed emotions.

So they took the bones, and they buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and they fasted for seven days ( 1 Samuel 31:13 ).

So the end of Saul's career, a sad, and tragic career. A man endowed by God with tremendous abilities, good looks, great physique, a man who had once experienced the anointing of God upon his life, came to a place of rebellion against God, disobeying the voice of God. Thinking that he didn't have to yield to God any longer, and because he rejected God from ruling over him, God rejected him from ruling over Israel. The sad, and the tragic end of the man who played the fool. Body mutilated by the Philistines, cremated by his friends, buried.

Now we, as we start into second Samuel, get into the story of David in full swing. We'll take eight chapters next week, and we'll get in now to the story of David, a very exciting story indeed. This man who is so human, and yet the man whom God loved.

Shall we stand?

Thank You Father for Thy Word. We pray Father, that we might learn by the examples, and by the lives that we Lord, would obey You, and yield to You, submit ourselves in all ways. Lord we pray Your blessing now upon these, Your children as they go their separate ways. Let the Word of God dwell in our hearts richly through faith, and may we, with all the saints comprehend what is the length, and the breadth, and the depth, and the height of Your love for us, as we walk with Thee, in Jesus' name, Amen. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 31". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-samuel-31.html. 2014.
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