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THE LAST DAYS OF KING SAUL
I Samuel xxviii: 1, to xxxi: 13.
NCE more the Philistines gathered together to make war on
King Saul and the land of Israel. The king of the
Philistines, Achish, sent for David, and said to him,
"You and your men shall go with me in the army, and
fight against the men of Israel."
For David was now living in the Philistine country and
under their rule. So David came from Ziklag, with all
his six hundred men, and they stood among the armies of
the Philistines. But when the lords of the Philistines
saw David and his men, they said, "Why are these
Israelites here? Is not this the man of whom they sang,
'Saul slew his thousands,
But David his ten thousands.'
Will not this man turn from us in the battle, and make
 with his king by fighting against us? This man shall
not go with us to the war."
Then Achish, the king of the Philistines, sent away
David and his men, so that David was not compelled to
fight against his own people. But when he came to his
own city, Ziklag, he found it had been burned and
destroyed; and all the people in it, the wives and
children of David's men, and David's own wives also,
had been carried away by the Amalekites into the desert
on the south.
The Lord spoke to David through the high-priest,
Abiathar, saying, "Pursue these men, and you will
overtake them, and take back all that they have carried
So David followed the Amalekites into the wilderness.
His march was so swift that a part of his men could not
endure it, but stopped to rest at the brook Bezor,
while four hundred men went on with David. He found the
Amalekites in their camp, without guards, feasting upon
the spoil that they had taken. And David and his men
fell upon them suddenly and killed all of them, except
 four hundred men who escaped on camels far into the
desert, where David could not follow them. And David
took from these robbers all the women and children that
they had carried away from Ziklag, and among them
David's own two wives; also he took a great amount of
treasure and of spoil, not only all that these men had
found in Ziklag, but what they had taken in many other
David divided all these things between himself and his
men, giving as much to those who had stayed at the
brook Bezor as to those who had fought with the
Amalekites. This treasure taken from the Amalekites
made David very rich; and from it he sent presents to
many of his friends in the tribe of Judah.
While David was pursuing his enemies in the south, the
Philistines were gathering a great host in the middle
of the land, on the plain of Esdraelon, at the foot of
Mount Gilboa. Saul and his men were on the side of
Mount Gilboa, near the same spring where Gideon's men
drank, as we read in Story 45. But
there was no one like Gideon now, to lead the men of
Israel, for King Saul was old, and weakened by disease
and trouble; Samuel had died many years before; David
was no longer by his side; Saul had slain the priests,
through whom in those times God spoke to men; and Saul
was utterly alone, and knew not what to do, as he saw
the mighty host of the Philistines on the plain. And
the Lord had forsaken Saul, and would give him no word
in his sore need.
Saul heard that there was living at En-dor, on the
north side of the Hill Moreh, not far from his camp, a
woman who could call up the spirits of the dead.
Whether she could really do this, or only pretended to
do it, we do not know, for the Bible does not tell. But
Saul was so anxious to have some message from the Lord,
that at night he sought this woman. He took off his
kingly robes and came dressed as a common man, and said
to her, "Bring me up from the dead the spirit of a man
whom I greatly long to meet."
And the woman said, "What spirit shall I call up?"
And Saul answered, "Bring me up the spirit of Samuel,
SAUL ASKS THE WOMAN TO CALL UP SAMUEL
Then the woman called for the spirit of Samuel; and
whether spirits had ever arisen from the dead before or
not, at that time the Lord allowed the spirit of Samuel
to rise up from his place among the dead, to speak to
When the woman saw Samuel's spirit she was filled with
 She cried out, and Saul said to her, "Do not fear; but
tell me whom you see."
For Saul himself could not see the spirit whom the
woman saw. And she said, "I see one like a god rising
up. He is an old man, covered with a long robe."
Then out of the darkness a voice came from the spirit
whom Saul's eyes could not see. "Why have you troubled
me, and called me out of my rest?"
And Saul answered Samuel, "I am in great distress, for
the Philistines make war upon me, and God has forsaken
me. He will not speak to me either by a prophet, or a
priest, or in a dream. And I have called upon you that
you may tell me what to do." And the spirit of Samuel
said to Saul, "If the Lord has forsaken you and has
become your enemy, why do you call upon me to help you?
The Lord has dealt with you as I warned you that he
would do. Because you would not obey the Lord, he has
taken the kingdom away from
 you and your house, and has given it to David. And the
Lord will give Israel into the hands of the
Philistines; and to-morrow you and your three sons
shall be as I am, among the dead." And then the spirit
of Samuel the prophet passed from sight. When Saul
heard these words he fell down as one dead, for he was
very weak, as he had taken no food all that day. The
woman and Saul's servants who were with him raised him
up, and gave him food, and tried to speak to him words
of cheer. Then Saul and his men went over the mountain
to their camp.
On the next day a great battle was fought on the side
of Mount Gilboa. The Philistines did not wait for
Saul's warriors to attack them. They climbed up the
mountain, and fell upon the Israelites in their camp.
Many of the men of Israel were slain in the fight, and
many more fled away. Saul's three sons were killed, one
of them, the brave and noble Jonathan.
When Saul saw that the battle had gone against him,
that his sons were slain, and that the enemies were
pressing closely upon him, he called to his
armor-bearer, and said, "Draw your sword and kill me;
it would be better for me to die by your hand than for
the Philistines to come upon me and slaughter me."
But the armor-bearer would not draw his sword upon his
king, the Lord's anointed. Then Saul took his own sword
and fell upon it, and killed himself among the bodies
of his own men.
THE DEATH OF SAUL
On the next day the Philistines came to strip off the
armor and carry away the weapons of those who had been
slain. The crown of King Saul and the bracelet on his
arm had been already carried away; but the Philistines
took off his armor and sent it to the temple of their
idol, Dagon; and the body of Saul and those of his
three sons they fastened to the wall of Beth-shan, a
Canaanite city in the valley of the Jordan.
You remember how Saul, in the beginning of his reign,
had rescued the city of Jabesh-gilead from the
Ammonites. (See Story 54.) The men of
Jabesh had not forgotten Saul's brave deed. When they
heard what had been done with the body of Saul they
rose up in the night and went down the mountains and
walked across the Jordan, and came to Beth-shan. They
took down from the wall the bodies of Saul and his
sons, and carried them to Jabesh; and that they might
not be taken away again, they burned them and buried
their ashes under a tree; and they mourned for Saul
 seven days. Thus came to an end the reign of Saul,
which began well, but ended in failure and in ruin,
because Saul forsook the Lord God of Israel.
Saul had reigned forty years. At the beginning of his
reign the Israelites were almost free from the
Philistines, and for a time Saul seemed to have success
in driving the Philistines out of the land. But after
Saul forsook the Lord, and would no longer listen to
Samuel, God's prophet, he became gloomy and full of
fear, and lost his courage, so that the land fell again
under the power of its enemies. David could have helped
him, but he had driven David away; and there was no
strong man to stand by Saul and win victories for him.
So at the end, when Saul fell in battle, the yoke of
the Philistines was on Israel heavier than at any time
WOMEN GRINDING GRAIN IN BIBLE TIMES