Songs and Praise



I Samuel 31:1-13; II Samuel 1:1-27; Psalm 52:1-9;

Lesson 218 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out" (Proverbs 24:20).


I Death of Saul

        1 Israel was disastrously defeated in battle with the Philistines,  I Samuel 31:1; I Chronicles 10:1

2 Saul's sons were slain in the battle, and he himself was mortally wounded, I Samuel 31:2, 3; I Chronicles 10:2, 3

3 Saul committed suicide to escape his enemies, and his armor-bearer did likewise, I Samuel 31:4-6; II Samuel 17:23; Psalm 52:1-9; Matthew 27:5; I Chronicles 10:4-6


II Heathen Victory

1 The bodies of Saul and his sons were triumphantly displayed by the Philistines, I Samuel 31:7-10; Judges 16:23, 24; Micah 1:10; II Samuel 1:20; I Chronicles 10:8-10

2 The men of Jabesh-gilead recaptured the bodies of Saul and his sons, and gave them proper burial, I Samuel 31:11-13; II Samuel 2:5-8; I Chronicles 10:10-12

         3 Many of the Israelites were forced to flee from their homes, I Samuel 31:7; I Chronicles 10:7

III David's Lamentation

         1 News of Saul's death was brought to David by an Amalekite, II Samuel 1:1-4; I Samuel 4:12-18

2 The Amalekite thought to win favor with David by bringing him news of his enemy's death, II Samuel 1:5-10; 4:9-12

  3 The Amalekite was executed on the strength of his own testimony, II Samuel 1:11-16; Genesis 9:6; I Kings 2:32,  33; Luke 19:22

4 David lamented over the death of Saul and his sons, II Samuel 1:17­27; Lamentations 1:12-17; 4:1-12; Hosea 13:11; I Samuel 15:35; 16:1



Wages of Sin

The Word of God devotes many chapters to the life and death of King Saul, that all who read it may know that the end of a backslider and a rebel against God is a terrible thing.

From the standpoint of the natural, and his beautiful physique, Saul had much in his favor. There were many reasons for thinking that Saul's life could have been one of great usefulness and value to God's cause, but it did not end that way. Saul became exalted over the high position of king wherein God had placed him; and though God made every effort to re­prove, guide, and sustain him in his problems, Saul became a terrible failure.

Saul's continual disobedience to the word of the Lord caused the Lord to wrest the kingdom of Israel from him, and give it to David. Saul became intensely jealous of David, and instead of repenting of his own transgressions that were causing him suoh trouble, he let his sins lead him into a suicide's lost eternity.

Saul became as the man of whom Jesus once spoke: 'When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first' (Luke 11:24-26).

Saul had been truly converted; God had given him a new heart; and when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him he prophesied (I Samuel 10: 9, 10). Despite all this, sin entered into Saul's heart; and when he refused to repent of his misdeeds, he became a willing tool of the devil, 'for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage' (II Peter 2:19).

Saul, as a backslider and a rebel against the government of God, became an evil man His good deeds, instead of becoming a habit of daily living, became rare; and his stubborn pride led him into deeds of ever- increasing wickedness. He became bold in his wickedness; and from a secret jealousy of David, his sins developed until he was in open pursuit of David, with the avowed intention of killing him at the first possible moment.

At one period of Saul's reign he flew into a murderous rage because David had eluded him, through the assistance of Ahimelech the priest. Saul had Ahimelech and his household and many of the priests and citizens of the city of Nob killed, and the city was burnt with fire. Saul did all this because of his evil heart (I Samuel 22:18, 19). Saul's wickedness knew no partiality. 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay,' is God's promise (Romans 12:19) ; and the rebellion of Saul, his savage pursuit of David, his uncontrolled wrath that caused him to attempt to kill his own son, and the actual murder of God's priests did not go unnoticed or unavenged by the Lord.

Kingdom's End

A battle between the Philistines and the Israelites was the immedi­ate cause of Saul's death. The Philistines were the instruments of God's judgment, chosen by God to carry out His word against Saul.

Saul was mortally wounded by the archers of the Philistines; and to avoid falling into their hands Saul desired his armor-bearer to kill him. This he refused to do; and so Saul, using his armor-bearer's sword, fell upon it and died. His armor-bearer then did likewise, both dying at their own hands.

Tradition tells us with reasonably good authority that Doeg, the Edomite, who slew the priests at Nob, was Saul's armor-bearer. If such were the case, divine justice was meted out to them both in that they both probably died with the very sword with which they had slain the priests of God. It is God's word, 'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed' (Genesis 9:6). 'So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse' (I Chronicles 10:13, 14).

Philistine Triumph

Saul despised the Lord's way, and so suffered a dishonorable death. Shame upon shame was heaped upon him by his enemies. His body and the bodies of his sons were taken by the Philistines, and were carried away to the city of Bethshan where they were fastened to a wall, that all might see them. It was a great victory for the Philistines, and one of the most disastrous defeats Israel had received up to that time.

The cup of God's wrath was poured out against Saul, and he drank of its contents to its last bitter dregs. 'For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them' (Psalm 75:8).

Heroic Action

Saul did do a few kind deeds in his life; and from one of these, even though he was dead, he received a return. The city of Jabesh-gilead had been invaded by the Ammonite in earlier years; and only Saul's timely intervention saved their lives an their homes (I Samuel 11:1-11). Hearing of the shameful way the Philistines had treated the bodies of Saul and his sons, these men went boldly in the night to the enemy's city and recovered their bodies. Thus Saul was given a decent burial for a past deed of kind­ness.

David's Displeasure

David's godly patience and forgiveness while suffering from Saul's terrible persecution is a beautiful example of the true spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and it was with sadness that David heard of Saul's untimely death. David's sorrow was real and unfeigned, and he mourned particularly over Jonathan, one of Saul's sons. Jonathan and David had been very close friends, and it was a great blow to David to hear of his friend's death.

God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, (Ezekiel 33:11) and neither do God's people take pleasure in the thought of a soul's being lost forever. There are those who would say that David would have been justi­fied in rejoicing that his enemy was dead, and that he could then possess the kingdom without any further opposition. But a spirit of vindictiveness has never had a part in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 'Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth' (Proverbs 24:17).

David waited on the Lord to deliver him from Saul's insane anger, and God did deliver him, without David striking a blow in self-defense.

The vast difference between David's state of mind and that which led the Amalekite to tell David he was the one who had disposed of Saul is vividly seen in David's response to such a message. The Amalekite thought he would be rewarded for being the executer of the rejected Saul as well as for being the harbinger of such tidings to David; but he was dealing with a man of God, and not a man whose heart was filled with wickedness, revenge, and violence. It was no good news to David that these men had died and that, with the exception of Jonathan, they had been rushed into a lost eternity. A Christian would rather suffer many things at the hands of wicked men than be the cause of anyone's being prematurely cut off in his sins.

God's Anointed

When the Amalekite told David he was the one who had taken Saul's life, instead of obtaining favor with David, he lost his own life. David questioned him, 'How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD'S anointed?' and he commanded one of his men to fall upon him and slay him. David told him, 'Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed.' So died the Amalekite for his prevarication. (See Psalm 105:14, 15.)

Song of the Bow

David's grief for the loss of his friend Jonathan, and for the untimely death of Saul, is left for us in a lamentation which David composed. This is often called the 'Song of the Bow.'

David realized the Philistines would rejoice a great deal because of their victory over Israel and because of the death of Saul. It was an evil day for Israel. Israel had asked for a king, and had received one, but he had been a terror and not a blessing to them. God had punished Israel for their rejection of Him. (See I Samuel 8:7.) God brought Saul to the hour of judgment for his own rebellion and sin.

Saul had given the heathen nations ample opportunity to bring reproach upon the name of Jehovah, Israel's God. This enables us to un­derstand better David's song: 'Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.' But in spite of David's intended precaution, at that very moment Saul's body was hanging in dishonor and disrepute in the streets of Bethshan.

Let all who hold God's Word in light esteem, and are little concerned with the respect they owe to God, consider the end of King Saul 'Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling' (Psalm 49:14).


1 Who was the cause of Saul's death?

2 Why did Saul commit suicide?

3 Will a suicide enter Heaven?

4 Why did the men of Jabesh-gilead go to Beth-shan and regain the bodies of Saul and his sons?

5 How did David hear of Saul's death?

6 Why did not David rejoice because of his enemy's death?


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