Saul And His Sons Die

FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, the city was buried for 1700 years. When it was rediscovered, artifacts left a detailed picture of what was happening in the city at the time. For example, archeologists could identify the time by the clothes people were we … More


Unknown to David and his men, while the events of Chapter 30 were taking place, Saul and his sons were involved in a battle with the Philistines that resulted in their death. These events took place on the slopes of Mount Gilboa overlooking the valley of Jezreel. Just as Samuel had prophesied (23:19), the Philistines quickly and easily defeated Israel.

One by one, Saul’s men fell until Saul’s sons were killed and Saul was badly wounded. Realizing the Philistines were about to capture him and fearing that he would be cruelly tortured, he asked his armor-bearer to kill him. When the armor-bearer refused to comply, Saul committed suicide by falling on his own sword.

When the Israelites learned that their king was dead, they abandoned their cities and took to the wilderness. When the Philistines found Saul, they showed their contempt by cutting off his head and parading it through the cities and villages of Philistia. Then they stripped off his armor and displayed it in the temple of the goddess Ashtaroth. They then took he and his sons’ bodies and placed them on the city wall of Bethshan.

In retrospect, we see Saul as a man of great potential whose natural strengths were enhanced by the Spirit of God. Initially he was very successful and stood as an example of what God can do through an individual. At the same time, his life also serves as a warning as we see how he completely turned his back on God and died as a complete failure in life.


Each one of us has certain natural gifts and, when I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I have great potential for serving God.  However, this will only happen as I remain obedient to the Lord.

I Samuel 31:1-13 (English Standard Version)

Now the Philistines fought against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me." But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. So they cut off his head and stripped off his armor and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his armor in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »