Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday - 1 Samuel 31 - The Demise of Saul

In his last battle against the Philistines, King Saul was shot by their arrows. When he realized that he was doomed, he fell on his own sword and died (I Samuel 31:5). Saul did not die alone that day though, he lost 3 sons in the same battle... including Jonathan. But, worse than that is the fact that the polytheistic Philistines used the death of Saul to glorify their gods and to mock Jehovah (I Samuel 31:9- 10). They celebrated their victory as they desecrated the bodies of Saul and his sons in the temples of their gods.

Now, evidently somewhere along the way the Jewish people of Jabeshgilead had learned some good lessons. Remember how they had been absent from the fray back in Judges 21:8. And, recall also that they looked to others for help, strength and defense back in I Samuel 11:3. But, (probably in gratitude for Saul's original act on their behalf (see I Samuel 11:11) this time things were different. This time the men of Jabeshgilead were the bravest of all. While the rest of the nation was hightailing it away from the Philistines, some of the mightiest men of Jabeshgilead went into Philistine territory and collected what royal remains they could lay hold of (to try to preserve some of the dignity of the Jewish crown). Then they buried them honorably.

There does seem to be a good lesson for us here. Although Saul ended his life in decadence and despair, after his death his people honored what they could of his memory. This is appropriate. While there is no point in glorifying an absolute scoundrel at his funeral (as if he was a saint), yet there is a proper respect which we should demonstrate in giving credit wherever we can... especially for the sake of the grieving survivors. 

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