The Dead March of Saul
1 Samuel 31:6
So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor bearer, and all his men, that same day together.

1. We begin with this: "Sin, when it is finished, bringing forth death." The career of the first monarch Israel ever had is now actually completed: his life is a failure; the wrong beginning has reached the fetal end. The parallel has more than once been drawn between the rejected Saul and the Roman Brutus at Philippi. They seem to have had a warning in very similar terms the night before they died. And the terrible destruction of their respective forces, the entire rout and ruin of their cause, worked the same maddening result. Each fell on his own sword, and so sealed his guilt with suicide. One thinks of the story which naturalists tell concerning the scorpion, which, girded by the circle of fire, coils up on itself into narrower and narrower folds, till, when it can endure the heat no longer, it turns its deadly venom against itself and buries the sting of destruction in its own brain. Saul knew he must die before nightfall that day; it was not necessary he should let himself be tortured.

2. So there is a second text of God's Word illustrated here in the incident: "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." The lines and links of connection with bind us to our fellow men are often very subtle, and sometimes unexpected; but they are certainly always very strong. We do not know that Saul cared much about others' interests, but his guilt was visited on many innocent, souls. By a tradition of the Rabbins we are told that the armour bearer mentioned here was named Doeg, and the tale adds that both of these men were slain by the same weapon, that was indeed the one with which the Lord's servants had been massacred at Nob.

3. Notice, therefore, closely in this connection that another of the Bible texts phrases for us a new lesson: "One sinner destroyeth much good." There was more in this tremendous catastrophe at Gilboa than an individual wreck. Great public interests were shaken almost as if the nation had been rocked by the force of an earthquake. Saul reaped the wind before he died, and when he died too; but it was his people that, with sickles of humiliation and loss and shame unutterable, reaped the whirlwind in his stead.

4. Happily there is another side even to this. We choose again from the utterances of inspiration, and we read, "The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment." It has been noticeable in human history that the Almighty deals somewhat surprisingly with remnants; even in great devastations there is often left a seed that tries to serve him and retrieve the disasters. It does our hearts good just now to learn that Jabesh-Gilead was aroused: somebody after all was alive in the land. A good turn often comes back again. Years before this Saul had saved the inhabitants of that town from losing their eyes at the hands of some brutal enemies; now they sent a faithful band to take reverently down from the spikes the bodies of the royal victims and give them decent burial at last. It is wiser always to side with the Lord of hosts, no matter how discouraging the present prospect may be.

5. Once more, we find an illustration also here of the text that has grown so familiar in our times: "In the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be."(1) He lost his chance through his sinning against God.

(2) He lost his chance: but ours remains to us yet; and this is of vast importance and demands our notice as living men. While the hours linger salvation is possible anyone who will come with patience seeking it, and even a great bad record may be blotted from the book of God's remembrance by the blood of Christ.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.

WEB: So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor bearer, and all his men, that same day together.

Saul's Character and End
Top of Page
Top of Page