1 Samuel 31:3
And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
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(3) And the battle went sore against Saul.—That is, after the death of Jonathan and his brothers. The great warrior king no doubt fought like a lion, but one by one his brave defenders fell in harness by his side; and the enemy seems to have directed their principal attention, at this period of the fight, to killing or capturing the famous Saul.

And the archers hit him.—It would seem as though, in that deadly combat, none could strike down that giant kingly form, so the archers—literally, as in the margin of our Version, shooters, men with bows, skilful shots—were told off, and these, aiming at the warrior towering above the other combatants, with the crown on his head (2Samuel 1:10), hit him.

And he was sore wounded by the archers.—This is the usual rendering of the word, but the more accurate translation is, He was sore afraid (or was greatly alarmed at them): so Gesenius, Keil, Lange, &c. All seemed against him. His army was routed, his sons were dead, his faithful captains and companions were gone, and these bow-men were shooting at him from a distance where his strong arm could not reach them. Gradually weakened through loss of blood—perhaps with the words he had heard only a few hours before at En-dor from the dead prophet ringing in his ears, “To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me”—the great undaunted courage at last failed him, and he turned to his armourbearer, who was still by his side.

1 Samuel 31:3. The archers hit him — Hebrews ימצאהו jim-stauhu, found him. Houbigant renders it, rushed upon him. It seems by this that the Philistines gained the battle, chiefly by the advantage of their archers. Probably these were some hired troops, for we meet with no mention before this of any archers in any of the Philistines’ armies or battles; and it seems to have been a way of fighting that Saul and the Israelites were not prepared for, and therefore they were soon thrown into confusion by it. “The use of the bow, however,” says Dr. Dodd, “was not unknown. Jonathan is celebrated for his skill and dexterity in it; and so were some of the worthies who resorted to David; but it seems not yet to have been brought into common practice, if, as has been collected from 2 Samuel 1:18, David, after this battle, had the Israelites taught the use of it.”

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.He was sore wounded - Better, "he was sore afraid" (compare Deuteronomy 2:25). Saul's fear is explained in 1 Samuel 31:4. 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. No text from Poole on this verse.

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.

And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
3. the battle went sore against Saul] Cp. 1 Kings 22:31 ff. The Vulg. has a striking paraphrase: “the whole weight of the battle was directed against Saul,” (totumque pondus praelii versum est in Saul).

he was sore wounded] So the Sept. and Vulg. But the Heb. may also be rendered, “and he was sore afraid.” Despair and the fear of insult paralysed his courage. For “of the archers” the Sept. reads “in the abdomen,” but the Heb. text is preferable.

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). 1 Samuel 31:3The Philistines followed Saul, smote (i.e., put to death) his three sons (see at 1 Samuel 14:49), and fought fiercely against Saul himself. When the archers (בּקּשׁת אנשׁים is an explanatory apposition to המּורים) hit him, i.e., overtook him, he was greatly alarmed at them (יחל, from חיל or חוּל),

(Note: The lxx have adopted the rendering καὶ ἐτραυμάτισαν εἰς τὰ ὑποχόνδρια, they wounded him in the abdomen, whilst the Vulgate rendering is vulneratus est vehementer a sagittariis. In 1 Chronicles 10:3 the Sept. rendering is καὶ ἐπόνεσεν ἀπὸ τῶν τόξων, and that of the Vulgate et vulneraverunt jaculis. The translators have therefore derived יחל from חלל equals חלה, and then given a free rendering to the other words. But this rendering is overthrown by the word מאד, very, vehemently, to say nothing of the fact that the verb חלל or חלה cannot be proved to be ever used in the sense of wounding. If Saul had been so severely wounded that he could not kill himself, and therefore asked his armour-bearer to slay him, as Thenius supposes, he would not have had the strength to pierce himself with his sword when the armour-bearer refused. The further conjecture of Thenius, that the Hebrew text should be read thus, in accordance with the lxx, המּררים אל ויּחל, "he was wounded in the region of the gall," is opposed by the circumstance that ὑποχόνδρια is not the gall or region of the gall, but what is under the χόνδρος, or breast cartilage, viz., the abdomen and bowels.)

and called upon his armour-bearer to pierce him with the sword, "lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and play with me," i.e., cool their courage upon me by maltreating me. But as the armour-bearer would not do this, because he was very much afraid, since he was supposed to be answerable for the king's life, Saul inflicted death upon himself with his sword; whereupon the armour-bearer also fell upon his sword and died with his king, so that on that day Saul and this three sons and his armour-bearer all died; also "all his men" (for which we have "all his house" in the Chronicles), i.e., not all the warriors who went out with him to battle, but all the king's servants, or all the members of his house, sc., who had taken part in the battle. Neither Abner nor his son Ishbosheth was included, for the latter was not in the battle; and although the former was Saul's cousin and commander-in-chief (see 1 Samuel 14:50-51), he did not belong to his house or servants.

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