Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. — George Orwell

Story of the Bible Told for Young and Old - Jesse Hurlbut

The Last Days of King Saul

Once 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 his peace 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 away."

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 places.

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 Ten in Part Second. 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, the prophet."

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 King Saul.

When the woman saw Samuel's spirit she was filled with fear. 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 One in this Part.) 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 Sal 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 before.

Women grinding grain in Bible times


Front Matter

The Story of a Beautiful Garden
The First Baby in the World and His Brother
The Great Ship That Saved Eight People
The Tower That Was Never Finished
The Story of a Long Journey
How Abram's Choice Brought Blessing
The Angel by the Well
The Rain of Fire That Fell on a City
The Boy Who Became an Archer
How an Angel's Voice Saved a Boy's Life
The Story of a Journey after a Wife
How Jacob Stole His Brother's Blessing
Jacob's Wonderful Dream
A Midnight Wrestling Match
The Rich Man's Son Who Was Sold as a Slave
From the Prison to the Palace
How Joseph's Dream Came True
A Lost Brother Found
From the Land of Famine to the Land of Plenty
The Beautiful Baby Who Was Found in a River
The Voice from the Burning Bush
The River That Ran Blood
The Night When a Nation Was Born
How the Sea Became Dry Land and the Sky Rained Bre
The Mountain That Smoked and Words That Were Spoke
How Aaron Made a Golden Calf and What Became of It
The Tent Where God Lived Among His People
How They Worshipped God in the Tabernacle
What Strong Drink Brought to Aaron's Sons
The Scapegoat in the Wilderness
The Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan
How the Long Journey of the Israelites Came to an
What a Wise Man Learned from an Ass
How Moses Looked upon the Promised Land
The Story of Job
The Story of a Scarlet Cord
How the River Jordan Became Dry
The Story of a Wedge of Gold
How Joshua Conquered the Land of Canaan
The Old Man Who Fought Against the Giants
The Avenger of Blook and the Cities of Refuge
The Story of an Altar Beside the River
The Presnt That Ehud Brought to King Eglon
How a Woman Won a Great Victory
Gideon and His Brave Three Hundred
Jephthah's Rash Promise and What Came from It
The Strong Man: How He Lived and How He Died
The Idol Temple at Dan and Its Priest
How Ruth Gleaned in the Field of Boaz
The Little Boy with a Linen Coat
How the Idol Fell Down Before the Ark
The Last of the Judges
The Tall Man Who Was Chosen King
How Saul Saved the Eyes of the Men of Jabesh
The Brave Young Prince
Saul's Great Sin and His Great Loss
The Shepherd Boy of Bethlehem
The Shepherd Boy's Fight with the Giant
The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows
Where David Found the Giant's Sword
How David Spared Saul's Life
The Last Days of King Saul
The Shepherd Boy Becomes a King
The Sound in the Treetops
The Cripple at the King's Table
The Prophet's Story of the Little Lamb
David's Handsome Son and How He Stole the Kingdom
Absalom in the Wood; David on the Throne
The Angel with the Drawn Sword on Mount Moriah
Solomon on This Father's Throne
The Wise Young King
The House of God on Mount Moriah
The Last Days of Solomon's Reign
The Breaking Up of a Great Kingdom
The King Who Led Israel to Sin
The Prophet Who Raised a Boy to Life
The Prayer That Was Answered in Fire
The Voice That Spoke to Elijah in the Mount
The Wounded Prophet and His Story
What Ahab Paid for His Vineyard
The Arrow That Killed a King
Elijah's Chariot of Fire
A Spring Sweetened by Salt
The Pot of Oil and the Pot of Poison
The Little Boy at Shunem
How a Little Girl Helped to Cure a Leper
The Chariots of Fire around Elisha
What the Lepers Found in the Camp
Jehu, the Furious Driver of His Chariot
Elisha and the Bow; Jonah and Nineveh
How the Ten Tribes Were Lost
The First Four Kings of Judah
The Little Boy Who Was Crowned King
Three Kings and a Great Prophet
The Good King Hezekiah
The Lost Book Found in the Temple
The Last Four Kings of Judah and the Weeping Proph
What Ezekiel Saw in the Valley
The Jewish Captives in the Court of the King
The Golden Image and the Fiery Furnace
The Tree That Was Cut Down and Grew Again
The Writing upon the Wall
Daniel in the Den of Lions
The Story of a Joyous Journey
The New Temple on Mount Moriah
The Beautiful Queen of Persia
The Scribe Who Wrote the Old Testament
The Nobleman Who Built the Wall of Jerusalem
Ezra's Great Bible Class in Jerusalem
The Angel by the Altar
The Manger of Bethlehem
The Star and the Wise Men
The Boy in his Father's House
The Prophet in the Wilderness
Jesus in the Desert, and beside the River
The Water Jars at the Wedding Feast
The Stranger at the Well
The Story of a Boy in Capernaum and a Riot
A Net Full of Fishes
The Leper and the Man Let Down through the Roof
The Cripple at the Pool and the Withered Hand
The Twelve Disciples and the Sermon on the Mount
The Captain's Servant, the Widow's Son, and a Sinn
Some Stories Jesus Told by the Sea
"Peace, Be Still"
The Little Girl Who Was Raised to Life
A Dancing Girl and What Was Given Her
The Feast beside the Sea and What Followed It
The Answer to a Mother's Prayer
The Glory of Jesus on the Mountain
The Little Child in the Arms of Jesus
At the Feast of Tabernacles
The Man with Clay on His Face
The Good Shepherd and the Good Samaritan
Lazarus Raised to Life
Some Parables in Perea
The Poor Rich Man and the Rich Poor Man
Jesus at Jericho
Palm Sunday
The Last Vistis of Jesus to the Temple
The Parables on the Mount of Olives
The Last Supper
The Olive Orchard and the High Priests Hall
The Crown of Thorns
The Darkest Day of All the World
The Brightest Day of All the World
The Stranger on the Shore
The Church of the First Days
The Man at the Beautiful Gate
The Right Way to Give, and the Wrong Way
Stephen with the Shining Face
The Man Reading in the Chariot
The Voice That Spoke to Saul
What Peter Saw by the Sea
How the Iron Gate Was Opened
The Earliest Missionaries
The Song in the Prison
Paul's Speech on the Hill
Paul at Corinth
Paul at Ephesus
Paul's Last Journey to Jerusalem
The Speech on the Stairs
Two Years in Prison
The Story That Paul Told to the King
Paul in the Storm
How Paul Came to Rome and How He Lived There
The Throne of God
The City of God