1 Samuel 31:4 – Saul’s Suicide



Saul falls on his own sword to avoid being taken captive by the Philistines.


Saul’s suicide has been praised as the courageous action of a tragic hero. There is some justification in this. He was a mighty warrior who inspired great loyalty among his troops. This is seen, above all, in the reaction of the warriors of Jabesh-gilead, whose city Saul had delivered at the beginning of his reign (1 Samuel 11), who march all night long in order to recover Saul’s mutilated body and give it a decent burial. It is true that the Bible does not condemn suicide, explicitly. Other biblical suicides, however, are all people who have led tragic lives: Samson (Judges 16:28-30); Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23); Zimri (1 Kings 16:18); and Judas (Matthew 27:3-5). Saul’s story in 1 Samuel is equally tragic and suggests that his suicide, while entirely understandable, is an act of hopelessness, if not cowardice, for fear of being taken captive.

Enter the bible BW logo

Sign Up or Login

More resources for a deeply formed faith from Luther Seminary: