|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
31:1-7 We cannot judge of the spiritual or eternal state of any by the manner of their death; for in that, there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked. Saul, when sorely wounded, and unable to resist or to flee, expressed no concern about his never-dying soul; but only desired that the Philistines might not insult over him, or put him to pain, and he became his own murderer. As it is the grand deceit of the devil, to persuade sinners, under great difficulties, to fly to this last act of desperation, it is well to fortify the mind against it, by a serious consideration of its sinfulness before God, and its miserable consequences in society. But our security is not in ourselves. Let us seek protection from Him who keepeth Israel. Let us watch and pray; and take unto us the whole armour of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Verses 3, 4. - The archers. Literally, as in the margin, "shooters, men with bows." As the first word would equally apply to men who threw javelins, the explanation is added to make the meaning clear. Hit him. Literally, "found him, i.e. found out his position, and came up to where he was. He was sore wounded. Rather, "he was sore distressed." In Deuteronomy 2:25 the verb is rendered "be in anguish." The meaning is that Saul, finding himself surrounded by these archers, and that he could neither escape nor come to close quarters with them, and die fighting, ordered his armour bearer to kill him, that he might be spared the degradation of being slain by "uncircumcised" heathen. Abuse me. This verb is translated mock in Jeremiah 38:19. "Maltreat" would be a better rendering in both places, and also in Judges 19:25, where, too, the word occurs. Its exact meaning is to practise upon another all that passion, lust, anger, or malice dictate. Probably Saul thought that they would treat him as they had previously treated Samson (Judges 16:21-25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the battle went sore against Saul,.... Pressed heavy upon him; he was the butt of the Philistines, they aimed at his person and life:
and the archers hit him; or "found him" (a); the place where was, and directed their arrows at him:
and he was sore wounded of the archers; or rather "he was afraid" of them, as the Targum, for as yet he was not wounded; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions render it, and is the sense Kimchi and Ben Melech give of the word: he was not afraid of death, as Abarbinel observes, he chose to die; but he was afraid he should be hit by the archers in such a way that he should not die immediately, and should be taken alive and ill used; the Philistines, especially the Cherethites, were famous for archery; See Gill on Zephaniah 2:5.
(a) "et inveserust cum", Pagninus, Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3-5. the battle went sore against Saul, &c.—He seems to have bravely maintained his ground for some time longer; but exhausted with fatigue and loss of blood, and dreading that if he fell alive into the enemy's hands, they would insolently maltreat him (Jos 8:29; 10:24; Jud 8:21), he requested his armor bearer to despatch him. However, that officer refused to do so. Saul then falling on the point of his sword killed himself; and the armor bearer, who, according to Jewish writers, was Doeg, following the example of his master, put an end to his life also. They died by one and the same sword—the very weapon with which they had massacred the Lord's servants at Nob.
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