1 Samuel 31

Talks for Growing Christians

Israel’s Defeat by the Philistines and the Death of King Saul

1 Samuel 31

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Lesson Number 35

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Bible does not condone suicide.
  2. The Bible does not condemn cremation.

Practical Application

  1. In all your ways acknowledge His and He will direct your paths.


  1. What happened to the Israelites on Mount Gilboa?
  2. How did the Philistines boast of their victory over Saul in his death?
  3. List some other suicides that are recorded in Scripture.
  4. Why did the men of Jabesh Gilead put themselves in danger to rescue the bodies of Saul and his sons?
  5. Read Proverbs 3:5-6. Does “all your ways” include the decision about cremation and burial?


  1. The Philistines defeated the Israelites and Saul and his sons died.
  2. They hung the bodies of Saul and his sons on the high walls of Beth Shan, where they would be seen for miles around.
  3. a. Abimelech in Judges 9 b. King Saul here in 1 Samuel 31 c. Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17 d. King Zimri in1 King 16 e. Judas Iscariot in Matthew 27
  4. Forty years earlier King Saul had raised an army to rescue the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead from the siege and threat of the Ammonites (Chapter 11).
  5. Of course. God will guide you in any area if you seek His will.


  1. Review what you have learned about the life of King Saul. This king started out well; even the Spirit of God came upon him. But then he fell to pride, partial obedience, and jealousy. What lesson does his life teach you?
  2. Discuss principles from the Bible concerning burial versus cremation.


  1. Reflect on the lessons you learned from the life of King Saul as you conclude this study of 1 Samuel.

Key Verses

  • “So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day.” 1 Samuel 31:6
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

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