Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Margin illustration from the Worms Bible, Germany, c.1148

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.
1 Samuel 31:4

Saul's three son's have been slaughtered, and Saul himself has been struck by arrows. Saul dies as he lived, focussed entirely on self, led by pride and hubris. His last concern was to preserve his dignity, with no thought or effort to make things right with God, no repentance, no sorrow.

Saul's death did not come as a surprise to him. It was predicted the day before by the ghost of Samuel, summoned by the Witch of Endor, Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.1 Worth noting is that mediums and fortune-tellers—mostly women—had been banned from practice by Saul himself, in the name of God. In his fear Saul was willing to defy God to try to scrape together the good news he so hoped for. Instead the prediction he hears as as bad as it could be. Yet still, even knowing his death, the death of his sons, and the fall of Israel to the Philistines was inevitable Saul does nothing to prepare for it, but carries on exactly as if the news had not been given. It was a sad, lonely end to a sad and desperate life. From the moment God rejects Saul for one act of over-enthusiasm 2 we can imagine a life of loneliness fuelled by bitterness and a sense of injustice. Saul's end was predictable. Such rejection from one we depend on for unconditional love is hard to overcome, and in his final moments Saul, perhaps by way of balance, rejects the rejector.

The story of Saul and David is the story of Cain and Abel all over again: the despised son and the favoured son, only this time the favoured son escapes murder and lives to reign. That a loving God would treat His sons in such a way is hard to understand, and harder still to accept as the wisdom of a just God. I remind myself that the character of God develops over the course of the Biblical narrative—that is, man's understanding of God develops over this time. God is constant, but He is not static. He reveals Himself in ways that are right for the time.3

1 1 Samuel 28:19
2 1 Samuel 15:10-35
3 See also Teenager, 25 January 2021