WHY DID KING SAUL DIE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
JEHOVAH God said in Hosea 13:11, speaking of events that happened centuries prior: “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” This “king” is Saul, David’s predecessor. Israel wanted to be “like everyone else”—like their Gentile neighbors who had kings. God thus gave them their preference (1 Samuel 8:1-22): He used Prophet-Priest Samuel to select and anoint Saul as Israel’s first monarch (chapters 9 and 10, respectively). God had every right to be angry, for they had rejected Him as their King (1 Samuel 8:7)! Hosea reports that God also “took him away in [his] wrath.” The righteously-angered God who installed Saul also angrily removed Him 40 years later. Saul, mortally wounded in battle by the Philistines, committed suicide on the battlefield before their soldiers found and tortured him (1 Samuel 31:1-6). What exactly did Saul do to meet such a terrible fate?
First Chronicles 10:13-14 reveals: “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 enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.” King Saul met a tragic end on the battleground because he thrice crossed a line that JEHOVAH God had instructed him never to cross:
- Saul assumed the role of the priest (Samuel) and sacrificed a burnt offering (1 Samuel 13:8-14, especially verse 14—“But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.”).
- Saul did not annihilate all the Amalekites’ personal property as God had instructed him (1 Samuel 15:1-35, especially verses 22-23; cf. Exodus 17:8-16).
- Saul allied himself with a witch at Endor, hoping to conjure up dead Samuel’s spirit, which witchcraft JEHOVAH God explicitly prohibited Israel from ever associating with (1 Samuel 28:7-25; Deuteronomy 18:9-14). This last sin of Saul especially warranted a death penalty (see Deuteronomy reference), and God Himself carried it out by using the Philistine archers.
Saul had intentionally discounted God’s Word and deliberately consulted with a woman serving Satan! His sons died in order to eliminate competition with David, for David (not Saul’s seed) would be king. Before Saul died, God had already told him through Samuel that He (God) would choose a new king who would be “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Saul later learned that his successor would be one of his “neighbours” (1 Samuel 15:28). He likely realized that David was his replacement beginning in 1 Samuel 18:6-30, for it was here that Saul became increasingly violent toward David. Saul recognized that God had left him and moved to David. Awful, just plain awful!