(Today's post by Chris Queen)
1 Samuel 31
Remember back in high school when you had to read those Shakespeare plays? Beyond the language, which reads like the King James Version on steroids, the biggest memory I have of them is that they always seem like everybody dies in the end. The last scenes of these plays read like absolute bloodbaths. Well, we’ve reached the end of 1 Samuel, and in this brief chapter the saga of Saul and his family plays like a Shakespearean tragedy.
1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell dead on Mount Gilboa. 2 The Philistines were in hot pursuit of Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. 3 The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically.
4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.”
But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
Yep, it’s pretty gruesome, and it gets worse when the Israelites living in border towns flee out of fear of the Philistines and the Philistines move in.
8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and they sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news in the temple of their idols and among their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.
In the midst of this darkness and despair lies a glimmer of hope. The brave men of Jabesh Gilead marched into enemy territory to retrieve the body of their fallen king and his sons. These men took care of the bodies and gave them a proper, respectful burial and period of mourning.
The men of Jabesh Gilead did the right thing at the worst possible time. In a time of defeat and despair, these men risked their lives to honor and respect the memory and the passing of King Saul, Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua. There are times when doing the right thing is obvious, and there are times when it seems foolish to do the right thing. The men of one town among God’s chosen people made the right choice.
• Do you do the right thing even when it’s risky or when the timing is questionable (in the world’s eyes)? Even when no one else around you will?
• How do you ensure that you make the right choices at the right time?