August 20, 2023

The end of the proud

Passage: 1 Samuel 2:1-10; 12:12-15,25; 31
Service Type:

Theme: The LORD humbles the proud and makes us long for his king; be faithful in your place and bold in your obedience

Why did the men from Jabesh Gilead burn Saul’s body?
Throughout Scripture, a lack of proper burial and burning by fire is repeatedly associated with judgement (cf. Leviticus 10:1-2; 20:14; 21:9; Numbers 16:35; Joshua 7:15), even for those who were not subject to old covenant law (cf. Amos 2:1). It is strange therefore to read that the men of Jabesh Gilead burned the bodies of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:12). Many explanations have been suggested for their actions. Some argue that it was a burning of incense (cf. 2 Chronicles 16:14) or a means of preventing the bodies being exposed again. Most likely however, given the old covenant emphasis on clean and unclean, the burning was a preparation for burial. Saul and his sons had been killed by uncircumcised Philistines. Their bodies were then mutilated before being fastened onto walls for display (in the sun, open to the elements and animals). The burning was needed for cleansing (cf. Leviticus 7:19; 13:55). It was not a cremation, and a proper burial took place thereafter (1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 2:4-5).