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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Samuel 31

Verses 1-13

The Death of Israel's First King

1 Samuel 31:0

Saul's death was neither more nor less than suicide; the death of all deaths the most loathsome and despised of men: of all deaths the only one that men call cowardly. It was a great historical event, meaning much to the nation which saw its first king thus sadly fall. It was the end of Saul's kingdom: his sons and all his family, and with them, all his hopes, died with him that night on Mount Gilboa. And it is still a conspicuous moral, as well as historical event, on which we may well pause to look across the ages. Saul brought down thousands with him when he fell, but he had been lowering the tone of the spiritual nation almost from the time when he began his reign. He had insulted and abashed and driven away the spiritual genius that brooded over that holy land, and he had dragged the armies of Jehovah down to the level of the armies of the nations around. And as he had been in his life in the land, so was he when he died at Gilboa. For 'There was the shield of the mighty vilely cast away the shield of Saul as of one not anointed of the Lord.' There are three points which indicate the departure of Saul from the path of peace and duty.

I. He had not long- reigned until he began to separate himself from good men in the land. He was soon separated from Samuel, the best, the noblest, the representative good man of the time. He was soon separated from David, the man of the future, the man after God's own heart, and who desired to do only God's will. He was soon cruel and fierce in his wrath, slaying one by one the priests of the Lord.

II. Then we find that he was separated from God. He prayed to God and God gave him no answer. He was separated from Him who is the source of all light and the source of all strength. He asked in vain for God's guidance, and then called in vain for the dead Samuel.

III. Last of all Saul got separated from himself; from his own best nature. There was a great chasm in his nature, between his evil and his controlling better self; and thus he was left to the wreck and ruin which his own worst nature prompted. Such is the spiritual history of him whose tragic life we have now read to its close.

Hugh Black, The British Weekly Pulpit, vol. II. p. 57.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 31". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-samuel-31.html. 1910.