1 Samuel 31: “All his men died together that same day”


The roots of God’s love are in God!

While God is giving David a great victory, he is giving Saul an ignominious defeat. First, Saul watches his sons, including Jonathan, being cut down by the Philistines. Then Saul himself is critically wounded by arrows. Facing death, he calls on his armor-bearer to finish him off so he will not face a worse death at the hand of the Philistines. But like Saul himself, the armor-bearer is terrified and will not do it. Saul falls on his own sword and dies.

The Philistines disgrace the bodies of their fallen enemies by cutting off their heads, stripping them of their armor, and fastening their bodies to the city wall of Beth Shan. But men from the Israelite town of Jabesh Gilead take down the bodies, burn them, and bury their bones with reverence. After all, Saul is the anointed one of God. His sons, particularly Jonathan, prove to be noble.

Next Steps

This is a very sad story in the life of the newly re-structured Israel with Saul as the king ending his life in a desperate attempt to not be disgraced by the Philistines.

How does this story make you feel? It could be depressing, but we might also notice how noble the son of Saul proves to be, how honorable the men of Jabesh Gilead are to bury the bones of the deceased in reverence.

What will emerge out of this death of Saul? What is next for Israel? Keep reading in 2 Samuel and we’ll keep posting devotionals on the chapters.


God of love, may we trust your love even in defeat and death.

Dr. Gary Holloway is guest writing for The Journey Bible Project Blog.Dr. Gary Holloway is guest writing for The Journey Bible Project Blog.


Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway.