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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 10

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-14



1. The overthrow and death of Saul (1 Chronicles 10:1-7 )

2. The burial of Saul and his sons (1 Chronicles 10:8-12 )

3. The cause of Saul’s failure (1 Chronicles 10:13-14 )

1 Samuel 31:0 contains the same record of Saul’s miserable end and trial. The writer of Chronicles uses the departure of Saul to introduce the history of the king after God’s own heart, why God had dealt with Saul in judgment, and that the kingdom was turned unto David, the son of Jesse. The fatal battle between the Philistines and Israel took place in Mount Gilboa. Gilboa is south-east of the plain of Esdraelon which runs from Carmel to the Jordan valley. The cause of this war is unknown. Saul suffered a great defeat and many were the slain of Israel which fell in Gilboa. Among them were Saul’s three sons, Jonathan, Abinadab, also called Ishui (1 Samuel 14:49 ), and Melchi-shua. Then Saul himself was hit by an archer and wounded. Fearing abuse and insults from the Philistines, he requested his armor bearer to draw his sword and to kill him, but he was afraid, because Saul was the Lord’s anointed. Then the unhappy king took his own sword and fell upon it. The armor bearer also committed suicide. The reader will find in annotations on 2 Samuel 1:0 the story of the Amalekite explained.

The victory of the Philistines was complete. The people forsook their cities and these were occupied by the Philistines. When the plunderers came searching for the slain, in order to strip them of their belongings, the bodies of Saul and his sons were found. Then the body of Saul was stripped and beheaded and the armor was brought into the house of their gods, (Ashtaroth, the Phoenician Venus) and the gory head fastened as a trophy in the house of Dagon. 1 Samuel 31:10 tells us that the body was fastened to the wall of Beth-shan, but here we read that only the head was fastened in the house of Dagon. Beth-shan was a mountain fortress, and here the bodies of Saul and his unfortunate sons were fastened.

“And now night with her dark mantle once more covered these horrible trophies. Shall the eagles and vultures complete the work which, no doubt, they had already begun? The tidings had been carried across the Jordan, and wakened echoes in one of Israel’s cities. It was to Jabesh-gilead that Saul, when only named but not yet acknowledged king, had by a forced night-march brought help, delivering it from utter destruction (1 Samuel 11:0 ). That had been the morning of Saul’s life, bright, and promising as none other; his first glorious victory, which had made him king by acclamation, and drawn Israel’s thousands to that gathering in Gilgal, when, amidst the jubilee of an exultant people, the new kingdom was inaugurated. And now it was night; and the headless bodies of Saul and his sons, deserted by all, swung in the wind on the walls of Beth-shan, amid the hoarse music of vultures and jackals.

“But it must not be so; it cannot be so. There was still truth, gratitude, and courage in Israel. And the brave men of Jabesh-gilead marched all the weary night; they crossed Jordan; they climbed that steep brow, and silently detached the dead bodies from the walls. Reverently they bore them across the river, and ere the morning light were far out of reach of the Philistines. Though it had always been the custom in Israel to bury the dead, they would not do so to these mangled remains, that they might not, as it were, perpetuate their disgrace. They burned them just sufficiently to destroy all traces of insult, and the bones they reverently laid under their great tamarisk tree, themselves fasting for seven days in token of public mourning. All honor to the brave men of Jabesh-gilead, whose deed Holy Scripture has preserved to all generations!” (Bible History).

Sad and solemn is the final record of King Saul in these historical books. “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 inquire of it” (1 Samuel 28:6-7 ). He had disobeyed God, rejected His Word and then turned to the agency of Satan, to a demon instrument for help and advice. This is the road of apostasy. The road of the apostasy in Christendom so prominent in the closing days of our age is the same. It is departure from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1 ). It is a turning away from the truth, the Word of God, and turning to fables (2 Timothy 4:4 ).

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 10". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/1-chronicles-10.html. 1913-1922.
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