1 Samuel 31 records the tragic end of Saul and the first defeat of the Israelites by the Philistines ever since Samuel and Saul ruled.
The Israelites fell slain on Mt.Gilboa, their base camp. Saul’s three sons, including Jonathan, were killed by the Philistines. In the end, Saul chose to end his own life by falling on his sword. The next day, the Philistines found his body when they came to strip the slain. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, then fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.
Saul reminds me of Judas Iscariot who ended up committing suicide too.
Saul was given many opportunities to repent, yet, he wandered deeper and deeper into the dark side, finally to a point of no return. It is quite scary to look at how he slowly declined: from disobedience to jealousy, lies, breaking vows, slander, murder, and finally, consulting medium.
Has Saul ever considered that his pride and disobedience towards God would one day result in the death of his own sons, and even the fall of Israel in the battle? Had he not pursued David’s life, had David and his mighty followers fought together with him against the Philistines, things could have been different.
When Saul first appeared in 1 Samuel, he was described as a very handsome man who was taller than any of the people from his shoulder upwards. The Chinese bible translated it as him being “a head taller than the rest”. This outstanding and mighty man of power, the anointed king of Israel who was a head taller than the rest, was now beheaded.
We live in a society that is about ‘kiasu-ism’ (fear of losing out). Everyone wants to be outstanding or at least better than others. Being tall and mighty, Saul has received much praise and admiration… until David came in. He was clearly not used to the fact that more credit and praises went to this young shepherd boy. He slowly lost his head and became desperate to protect his kingship (or maintain his power?) even by means of murder.
We pray that we seek not to be a head taller than others (to be outstanding) but to always bow our head and give honor to God. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16: 18). 1 Samuel begins and ends with Israel’s defeat. Both serve as grave teachings to us that we should remember to obey our God (1 Sam 15: 22-23) and honor Him as our head (1 Sam 2: 30).