1 Samuel 31:4
Then said Saul to his armor bearer, Draw your sword, and thrust me through therewith…
There is always something solemn in doing things which, when done, cannot be undone — in taking steps which, when taken once, can never be recalled. We sign our contracts with a trembling hand; and enter into those bonds which least of all we desire to break, with a solemnity which arises from the thought that, once entered upon, we cannot recede. The act of suicide affords the most decisive evidence of the extensive delusion which men can practise on themselves, and of the blinding power which they permit the tempter to exercise over them, when, under the idea of relief and escape, they involve themselves in a deeper calamity, and in order to effect an oblivion of present suffering, they grasp the cup of eternal woe, and put it to their lips. "From what shall I escape?" is but one-half of the question — "Into what shall I bring myself?" is the still more momentous portion of the inquiry.
1. Looking at the circumstances of Saul's death in their connection with the history of the people over whom he reigned, it is impossible not to perceive that they were fraught with instruction to the nation, with lessons valuable though humiliating. They reiterate with deeper emphasis the truth — that when men are determined to have their own way — when they will not listen to heavenly suggestions, to Divine remonstrances — and when they think that they can manage better for themselves than God can manage for them, there is but one way of convincing them of their error. They must be allowed to take the problem of their peace and happiness into their own hands, to attempt to work it out in their own fashion, and then to reap the bitter results of failure, which in such a case are inevitable. Israel worked out their own problem, and they brought it to this issue — "And the men of Israel flee from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in Mount Gilboa," etc. And thus will it ever be, where men expect to reap more from their own theories than from God's fixed laws and plans.
2. We may take, as a second suggestion from the spectacle before us, the thought — How dreadful it is for a man to be in trouble without God to sustain and support him. The waves and billows were indeed going over Saul. We see here the acting out of one of those principles which regulate the Divine dealings with men If they seek Him, He will be found of them; if they forsake Him, He will cast them off forever. Fearful as is the lesson taught us by the self-murder of Saul, it is consolatory to know that no one need be in trouble without God. Precious promises point out the way in which we may be delivered from any such fear.
3. We see, in Saul's case, that there is no surer sign that a man is on the high road to ruin than that his heart is hardened against Divine warnings. Quickly, one after another, came solemn calls to the king of Israel to humble himself at last before God. We wait; and the thought rushes into our heart, "He will break down at last; he will stand out no longer. But it did not. And then it was seen that the heart which can stand out against solemn calls, ruin will be the result." "He that being often reproved," etc. It is a grievous miscalculation, moreover, which men make, when, conscious that life is passing on in the neglect of God and of duty, they reckon within themselves upon a certain power which they imagine the approach of death will have to awaken their attention to religious duties, and to bring with it the disposition to return to God in repentance and prayer.
4. As we compare the conclusion of this history with its commencement, we cannot but discover an impressive lesson as to the influence of external circumstances upon personal character. As Saul rose in his social position, he sunk in his moral condition. It is dangerous to keep an idol for ourselves; it is not less perilous to become the idol of others. Never was there a man more frequently instructed in the lesson of entire dependence upon God.
(J. A. Miller.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: Then Saul said to his armor bearer, "Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me!" But his armor bearer would not; for he was terrified. Therefore Saul took his sword, and fell on it.