King Saul obsessed over catching David, his rival in Israel's popularity contest among the heroes. He overlooked the real enemy, the one that caused the death of King Saul.
Saul dies in a battle against a massive Philistine army that invades the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel.
Saul rallies his army of volunteers and stages them on the crest of the Gilboa mountains. When he looks down into the valley and sees the size of the army coming against his crew, he knows it's all over.
But he makes a night trip to a medium in the village of Endor. He had to cross the open valley to do that, risking capture. He told the woman to conjure up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel. It was common for kings in the ancient Middle East to consult the gods before going into battle. Like Saul, they wanted to know how the battle would end.
Samuel tells the king that by sundown, Saul and his sons would be with Samuel in the place of the dead.
Saul went back to the camp, refusing to eat or gather strength for the battle. He knew it was lost. Three of his sons fall, presumably defending the position of the king, their father. David's best friend, Jonathan, was among the sons of Saul who died.
King Saul dies, falling on his sword
Saul was gravely wounded in the battle. He fell on his sword.
The day after the battle, Philistines came to strip the corpses of valuables. That’s when they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa.They cut off Saul’s head, stripped off his armor, and spread word of his death to other Philistine towns and idol temples throughout the land.The Philistines put Saul’s armor on display in the temple of their god Astarte. Then they hung his body on Beth-shan’s city wall.
Israelites steal the bodies and bury them
Israelites across the Jordan River at the town of Jabesh in Gilead heard what the Philistines did to Saul.Brave men from there traveled at night to Beth-shan. Secretly, they retrieved the bodies of Saul and his sons. They carried them back to Jabesh and cremated them there. They took the bones that were left and buried them under a tamarisk tree in Jabesh and mourned him by fasting for seven days.
The story appears in 1 Samuel 28-31. To compare The Casual English Bible with others, see Bible Gateway.