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1Ch 10:1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain on Mount Gilboa-
It is really stressed that Saul and Jonathan "fell" on Gilboa (1 Sam. 31:1,8; 2 Sam. 1:10,12,19,25,27), using a Hebrew word which is often associated with spiritual falling. The fact that "the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons" (1 Sam. 31:2) gives the impression of them fleeing from the Philistine soldiers. This sends the mind back to the Law's warning that an apostate Israel would flee before their enemies (Dt. 28:25). Saul and Jonathan are described in terms representative of apostate Israel; see Am. 2:14,15; Micah 1 and 2 and expositions there. But the fall of Israel was due to the fall of Saul (see on 1 Sam. 28:19); instead of being the king who led to victory as Israel had hoped and as God had enabled, he led to shame and defeat.

1Ch 10:2 The Philistines followed hard after Saul and after his sons; and the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchishua, the sons of Saul-
1 Sam. 31:2; 1 Chron. 10:2 read "Jonathan, Abinadab and Malchishua", whereas 1 Sam. 14:49 has "Jonathan, Ishvi and Malchishua". "Ishvi" may be another name for Abinadab; or we may note that the word means "and the second...", which would make sense in 1 Sam. 14:49. The genealogies of 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39 also mention Esh-Baal or Ishbosheth; perhaps his name mentioning the "Baal" compound was the reason for its exclusion. Having such a name reflects upon Saul's lack of total devotion to Yahweh.

1Ch 10:3 The battle went hard against Saul, and the archers overtook him; and he was badly wounded by the archers-
This was all such a reversal of fortunes. When the Philistines stopped the Israelites from having metal weapons, they honed their skills as slingers and archers. But now it was Philistine archers who wounded Saul.

1Ch 10:4 Then Saul said to his armour bearer, Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me-
"Lest [they]... mock / abuse me" were to be the very words of Zedekiah (Jer. 38:19). The message for the exiles was that their leadership had indeed acted and been judged as Saul, but there was hope for restoration in a revived David figure.


But his armour bearer would not; for he was terrified. Therefore Saul took his sword and fell on it-
We need to realize that we have more influence upon others than we may think. It can be that an illiterate sister in a male dominated society can think that her attendance at ecclesial meetings cannot encourage anyone. It can be that the Christian stockbroker feels that it is impossible for him to influence those he works with. But we do have influence. Saul’s armour bearer would not kill him when he was mortally wounded. Although he was one of Saul’s men, in the anti-David camp, yet David’s example of not killing Saul must have deeply influenced him. We do make a difference. We have become so humiliated by a shame based society that we can underestimate the value and power of our own personhood.

1Ch 10:5 When his armour bearer saw that Saul was dead, he likewise fell on his sword and died-
Fair attention is given to this man. As noted on :4, he was like Jonathan and many, in that his loyalties were divided. He was personally loyal to Saul, feeling that Saul's death was his death; and yet also loyal to the spirit of David, in that he would not slay Yahweh's anointed, and respected him as that right up to Saul's hopeless end. We may well meet him in God's Kingdom.

1Ch 10:6 So Saul died, and his three sons; and all his family died together-

To all die on the same day was tragic; and recalls the deaths of Eli and his sons at the hands of the Philistines. They died in fulfilment of prophecies that they must be replaced by a faithful priest, of whom Samuel was a potential fulfilment. The situation with the deaths of Saul and his sons was so similar. We see the same Divine hand at work.  

"Many of the people" (2 Sam. 1:4) is no contradiction with this or 1 Sam. 31:6, where “all his men” refers to Saul’s immediate body-guard.

1Ch 10:7 When all the men of Israel who were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook their cities and fled; and the Philistines came and lived in them-
The valley of Jezreel is in view in the parallel 1 Sam. 31:7; it was the most fertile part of Israel. The translation may be better "on the side of the valley". The forsaken cities appear to apply only to that valley. "Beyond the Jordan" may mean 'on the river banks'. There is little archaeological evidence that the Philistines possessed the territory east of Jordan for very long. Soon after this, Abner proclaimed Ishbosheth as king at Mahanaim, about twenty miles east of the Jordan (2 Sam. 2:8). So these gains of the Philistines were short-lived, and they lacked the numbers of population to really settle all this territory. But the impression is given of a total Philistine victory in the north of Israel.

1Ch 10:8 It happened on the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa-
The fact this was done the next day suggests the battle continued into the late evening, with Saul fighting literally to the end.

1Ch 10:9 They stripped him, and took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines all around, to carry the news to their idols, and to the people-
This may well have been to allude to what David had done to Goliath many years before, placing his armour in the tabernacle; the sting of which remained with them. But the record mocks how they had to take the news to their idols; unlike Yahweh who sees and knows all things, and even before they happen.

1Ch 10:10 They put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the house of Dagon-
1 Sam. 31:10 adds: "They put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan". 1 Chron. 10:12 adds the detail that the bodies of his sons were likewise fastened to the wall. Herodotus writes of a great temple to Venus in Ashkelon.

1Ch 10:11 When all Jabesh Gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul-
They had been saved by Saul in 1 Sam. 11, maybe 40 years before (Acts 13:21). They had total loyalty to Saul even now at the end, when surely it was clear that David was the king of God's choice and Saul had sinned and failed. Perhaps they set a good example of appreciating the good a man once did or taught, even if in later life he turned away from God. As explained on 1 Sam. 30:23, this was how David treated Saul.

1Ch 10:12 all the valiant men arose and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days-
1 Sam. 31:12 adds: "All the valiant men arose and travelled all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan, and they went to Jabesh and burnt them there". Cremation was not common amongst the Israelites, but perhaps they did this lest his body be abused further, seeing that they were under Philistine domination. We recall how it was beneath a tamarisk tree that Saul had ordered the massacre of the priests of Nob (1 Sam. 22:6). Now it is his bones which are beneath such a tree.

1Ch 10:13 So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against Yahweh, against the word of Yahweh, which he didn’t keep; and also because he asked counsel of one who had a familiar spirit, to inquire-
AV "a familiar spirit" is misleading, and many of the modern versions give something like "witch" or [ESV, GNB] "a medium". LXX has "a divining spirit". It doesn't mean she did actually have any such spirit; but that she was considered as having this. Such people were thought to be able to be possessed by the spirit of dead people, and to therefore speak in their name. But the Bible clearly teaches that the "spirit returns to God" (Ps. 146:4; Ecc. 12:7), and that death is unconsciousness. The spirit of dead persons don't enter other people. I would go so far as to say that the record of the witch at Endor, who supposedly had a "familiar spirit", is deconstructing this belief. For Samuel himself appears, and speaks directly to Saul, and not through the "medium". The woman therefore screamed in shock when Samuel actually appeared. He was resurrected, briefly, in order to give God's final message to Saul. The people claiming to have "familiar spirits" lay on the ground and mumbled hard to understand words in a voice seeking to imitate the dead person (Is. 29:4) but Samuel appeared in person and spoke clearly to Saul, directly. We also note that Samuel appeared to Saul standing upright, because Saul bowed before him: "Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and showed respect" (1 Sam. 28:14). This was quite different to how the mediums lay on the ground and mumbled words into the dust.

 David felt preserved by God from Saul and his other enemies (1 Sam. 30:23; 2 Sam. 22:44), because he had preserved or obeyed [s.w.] God's ways (2 Sam. 22:22,24; Ps. 18:21,23); whereas Saul didn't obey / preserve them and was destroyed (1 Sam. 13:13,14; 1 Chron. 10:13). Hence Ps. 145:20: "Yahweh preserves all those who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy".

1Ch 10:14 and didn’t inquire of Yahweh. Therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse
Just before his final fight with the Philistines, "Saul enquired of the Lord (but) the Lord answered him not" (1 Sam. 28:6), and therefore he went to a witch. But in God's final analysis of Saul, Yahweh says that He smote Saul because Saul sinned against God's word by not enquiring of God, but of a witch (1 Chron. 10:13,14). But Saul did enquire of God (see 1 Sam. 14:37 s.w. 1 Sam. 28:6), but God didn't answer him (note how often in the records it is stated that David enquired successfully of Yahweh). The point is that although Saul prayed to God and enquired of His word on the surface, in his heart, he did nothing of the sort; and therefore his prayer and enquiry was reckoned never to have happened. And we must ask how much of our prayer and Bible study is seen by God as being only spoken and read on a surface level. This was exactly the problem of natural Israel. "They have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled (in prayer) upon their beds" (Hos. 7:14). "Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him" (Hos. 11:7). We have here a powerful challenge to our prayer life. For we can enquire of God on a surface level, as a kind of formality, to soothe the religious conscience which is somewhere in every man. But this is not to really enquire of Him.