Peter Barnes | 1 Samuel 31:1-13
SAUL EMBRACES DEATH
1 Samuel 31; Matthew 27:1-10
– Saul is like Shakespeare’s Othello – 1 Chron.10:13-14; Heb. 9:27.
1. The tragic duty of Jonathan.
– Philip Henry used to cite the Puritan saying: ‘Duty is ours, events are God’s.’ Jonathan dies doing his duty.
2. The suicide of Saul.
– 31:3-6. Alexander Maclaren refers to Saul as ‘the victim and slave of his own causeless hate’. Israel collapses as a fighting unit – 31:7.
The Bible lists six suicides:
(a) Abimelech (Judges 9:52-54; this is not unlike Saul’s);
(b) Samson (Judges 16:28-30; admittedly different; note Heb.11:32);
(c) Ahithophel (2 Sam.17:23);
(d) Zimri (1 Kings 16:18);
(e) Judas (Matt.27:5).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: ‘God has reserved to Himself the right to determine the end of life, because He alone knows the goal to which it is His will to lead it … There is no other cogent reason for the wrongfulness of suicide, but only the fact that over men there is God. Suicide implies denial of this fact.’ In danger, David cries out to God (e.g. Psalm 59). Not so Saul.
3. The respect for the dead of the men of Jabesh Gilead.
– 31:8-10; see too 1 Chron.10:10. Then 1 Sam. 31:11-13. Contrast Amos 2:1 and 6:10. Like the women in Mark 16:1-3. Heb.3:12-14.