Oh, Saul, at the end you almost pulled it out. In spite knowing God had deserted him, when the Philistines attacked, he led his people in war. Okay, they were losing. but he was there, doing his duty, providing encouragement for his people.
And then . . . there was always an "and then" with Saul, wasn't there? . . .
All three of sons were killed, in a single battle. As someone who has lost a single child, I can't imagine losing all of my children at once. Whatever courage or heart Saul had left must have dropped away at the news.
Then an archer got close enough to hit Saul with a fatal arrow. Saul begged his armor bearer to kill so the Philistines couldn't claim the credit. The faithful servant refused, so Saul did the deed himself. The armor bearer followed suit
The loss is summarized in these sad words: The men closest to him died together that day.
Sad, tragic, unbelievable--all of that, and more. But of course, there is even worse to come.
When the Philistines discovered Saul's dead, they hung his armor in the temple of their god and they hung his corpse on a wall for everyone to see.
Enter the brave men of Jabesh Gilead, who took back the corpse, burned away the flesh and buried the king properly.
Battle, national defeat, suicide, loyalty, patriotism, grief . . . a story of epic proportions that leaves the nation of Israel in the worst shape yet. The Philistines gloated over the victory, the Israelites were left without a designated leader, the armor taken away. (early I read that only Saul and Jonathan had armor; the loss was a severe one.)
But with God, the end is rarely the end. The man the Philistines considered an ally was about to emerge as Israel's greatest king.
New heroes and valliant men and women will come to the forefront.
Saul . . . everything he could have been and wasn't.
Which one am I?