Matthew Poole's Commentary
Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.The Israelites are smitten by the Philistines: Saul’s sons are slain: Saul is wounded: he falleth on his own sword; as doth his armour-bearer, 1 Samuel 31:1-6. The rest flee; and the Philistines possess their towns, and triumph over the dead carcasses, 1 Samuel 31:7-10. They of Jabesh-Gilead by might take down the bodies of Saul and of his sons, and burn them; and mournfully bury their bones, 1 Samuel 31:11-13.
The Philistines fought against Israel, whilst David was engaged against the Amalekites. So he returns to the history, which had been interrupted to give an account of David’s concerns.
And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons.The Philistines slew Jonathan, David’s dear friend; God so ordering it for the further exercise of David’s faith and patience; and that David might depend upon God alone for his crown, and receive it solely from him, and not from Jonathan; who doubtless, had he lived, would have speedily settled the crown upon David’s head, which would have in some sort eclipsed the glory of God’s grace and power in this work. There was also a special providence of God in taking away Jonathan, (who of all Saul’s sons seems to have been the fairest for the crown,) for the preventing divisions, which have happened amongst the people concerning the successor; David’s way to the crown being by this means made the more clear.
Abinadab, called also Ishui, 1 Samuel 14:49. Ish-bosheth was not here, being possibly at home, for the management of public affairs there.
And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.Thrust me through, and abuse me; lest they take me, and put me to some shameful and cruel death.
Saul took a sword, and fell upon it, and died of the wound, as it follows.
And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.No text from Poole on this verse.
So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.No text from Poole on this verse.
And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.Of the valley, to wit, the valley of Jezreel, where the battle was fought.
On the other side Jordan; or rather, on this side Jordan; for these were in the most danger; and the Hebrew preposition is indifferently used for on this side, or for beyond.
And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa.No text from Poole on this verse.
And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people.They cut off his head, as the Israelites did by Goliath.
To publish it in the house of their idols, to give them the glory of this victory.
And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.No text from Poole on this verse.
And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul;Jabesh-gilead, which was beyond Jordan; for the people on this side Jordan were fled from their cities, as was now said.
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 Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.Burnt their flesh, after the manner.
And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.To testify their sorrow for the public loss of Saul, and of the people of God; and to entreat God’s favour to prevent the utter extinction of his people. But you must not understand this word of fasting strictly, as if they eat nothing for seven whole days; but in a more large and general sense, as it is used both in sacred and profane writers; that they did eat but little, and that seldom, and that but mean food, and drunk only water for that time.