1 Samuel 30-31
(Saul Falls on His Own Sword)
March 30th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Click here for a print- friendly version

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

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 (KJV)

Summary of Chapters

The last two chapters of 1 Samuel describe the end of the life of Saul, the first king of Israel. These chapters also continue the story of the blessed life of David, the anointed royal successor, as he narrowly escapes another disaster. In chapter 30, the author describes the tragic scene observed by David and his men when they return to Ziklag, which is the village where they had been living so that David could avoid Saul's jealous wrath. They return home to find that the village is burned down and their wives and children are gone. David's men don’t know if their families have been kidnapped or killed, but naturally, they look for someone to blame, and begin plotting to kill their leader. David rises above this type of response and turns to God for a plan. God tells him to pursue the Amalekites who have committed this atrocity.

David and his men are led to the Amalekite camp by a forlorn slave that David and his men had found suffering in the desert. They then totally destroyed the Amalekites – which is what Saul was supposed to do back in chapter 15. This was one of the main transgressions that resulted in the loss of his treasured position in life. We may recall this statement from that earlier chapter:

    “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you.”

    - 1 Samuel 15:28 (NIV)

David overcame the objections of some of his men by making sure that the plunder was shared among other deserving and needy parties, such as those who were exhausted from earlier battles. These men were asked to remain behind to watch the supplies.

    But all the mean-spirited men who had marched with David, the rabble element, objected: "They didn't help in the rescue, they don't get any of the plunder we recovered. Each man can have his wife and children, but that's it. Take them and go!"

    "Families don't do this sort of thing! Oh no, my brothers!" said David as he broke up the argument. "You can't act this way with what God gave us! God kept us safe. He handed over the raiders who attacked us. Who would ever listen to this kind of talk? The share of the one who stays with the gear is the share of the one who fights—equal shares. Share and share alike!" From that day on, David made that the rule in Israel—and it still is.

    - 1 Samuel 30:22-25 (MSG)

David also sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah and to places where he and his men had stayed. David was not yet king, but was already demonstrating a commitment to justice and compassion for all the people in the land.

The book of 1 Samuel and the story of Saul’s life reach a climax in chapter 31. This ending has been anticipated since chapter 15 and was unavoidable despite all of Saul’s efforts. Jonathan, the best friend of David, is killed by the Philistines, and Saul is mortally wounded. He is now powerless, and takes his life in his own hands rather than be tortured by the Philistines, as Samson was. The Philistines celebrated and the people of Saul’s hometown mourned as they collected his body and gave him a proper burial.

Reflection and Application

David was a problem-solver who consulted the best authority possible when facing a challenge. While his men were looking for a scapegoat David was looking for a solution and rallied his men around that cause. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to find someone at fault when things have gone wrong. This is a human flaw that goes back to Adam and Eve. Remember how Adam blamed Eve for the apple incident and also blamed God for giving him that woman? In turn, Eve blamed the serpent. The serpent had no defense (Genesis 3).

For some people, it’s a professional objective to find blame, as with accident investigators who work for insurance companies. They need to find a party to blame so the cost of repair and restoration can be charged to the appropriate party. This is an excellent system when it works in our favor or when it achieves justice. But this is generally not the best course of action for the rest of our lives. When something goes wrong at your workplace or other organizations what is the immediate response? A good leader ensures that the first response is to find the solution, as David did. In fact, one speaker I heard a few years ago stated that this type of response is one of the seven keys to success for a start-up company. What is the model we follow in our personal lives? Accident investigator mentality or successful start-up CEO philosophy?

How can we develop obedience to God? We can only do it one step and one day at a time. Saul failed to do this and eventually failed as a King. His steps took him away from God. Sometimes we take a few steps away and then a few steps back. This is par for the human experience. The most important thing is that we focus on those steps that return us to God – without looking to blame others.

A faithful Christian consults with God to solve problems, as David did. This was part of his path to obedience (he falls off the path later, but he knows how to get back on it).

What were the words from 1 Samuel that stood out most in your mind? Think about the words you remember and check out a world cloud for this book at the 66Clouds website:

1 Samuel Word Cloud

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is the most recent accident that you have been in or witnessed?
    2. How do we get the people around us to focus on solving problems rather than finding blame?
    3. What is the next step on the path of obedience that God is looking for from you?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you are the ultimate problem-solver. Forgive us for any times where we did not turn to you first. Please help us to take the next step of obedience.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People who work in the Insurance industry

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 2 Samuel Overview and study of chapters 1-3 (Crowning of King David)

    Comments and Questions
    If you have comments or questions, please add them to our Comments page, email to the author at ted@listeningforGod.org, or share your comments or questions via the Listening for God Twitter account

    Click to follow Listening for God(@listeningforgod)