When Death is Good News

Can you imagine a hatred for someone or some thing that runs so deep within you that its death is not satisfying to you? Think about it, shouldn’t the death of our enemy be sufficiently satisfying to us?

1 Samuel ends with the death of Saul, the one anointed by God to be the first king of Israel. The Philistines are Israel’s enemy throughout Saul’s reign as Israel’s king, and the book culminates with a final battle. In this battle, Saul and his three sons are overtaken by the Philistines, and all four of them die on the same day. Saul, though, knows that death is imminent, and believes that the most dignified thing he can do is take his on life. After being wounded by archers, Saul commands his armor-bearer to kill him, but fearfully, he will not. Seeing no other option, Saul draws his own sword and falls upon it.

Understandably, Saul is fearful of what the enemy soldiers might do to him should they take him alive, but his choice does not justify suicide. It certainly does not provide a biblical argument for what is known today as, “death with dignity” acts or laws, or perhaps better known as euthanasia, or doctor-assisted suicide. Saul may not have seen any other options at the moment, but you and I can clearly see other options that he did not consider. Saul could have prayed to God. Saul could have repented of living for himself and he could have chosen to glorify the Lord with the life God had given him. Yes, Saul had options. There is always the option to trust the Lord at the end of life.

However, the point we are making here is not relevant to Saul’s suicide. Notice that the Philistines, Saul’s enemy, are not satisfied with his death. You would imagine that after the archers had wounded Saul, and after reaching him and his armor-bearer and finding both of them dead, that the Philistines would be delightfully satisfied; but you would be wrong. Death does not immediately bring an end to this feud.