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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cowards and Martyrs

            Chapter 31 of I Samuel records the tragic deaths of King Saul and his sons, “Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell slain on Mount Gilboa . . . The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers.”  Saul entreats his armor bearer to thrust him through with the sword; fearfully, the armor bearer would not slay him.  Saul falls on his own sword, and thusly ends the saga of a king/leader that would rather die for self rather than stand up for what is right.  King Saul’s head and the heads of his sons were decapitated by the Philistines and hung in the temple of their idols.  Their armor was put in the temple of the Ashtoreths, and their bodies secured to the wall of Beth Shan.  The valiant men of Jabesh Gilead rose and retrieved the bodies and burned them at Jabesh.  Their bones were buried under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh.  This notes the sad and tragic end of “would be king” that hid among the equipment. 
            Tradition states that Paul was decapitated by orders of the Roman empire on the Appian Way.  The Appian Way is second oldest Roman highway, and is named after its builder, Appius Claudius (Myers, TEBD, 68).  While scripture does not include a description of Paul’s death, it does record the bulk of the New Testament which Paul penned as epistles or letters from his heart.  In contrast to King Saul whose life is recorded so momentarily in I Samuel, Paul’s legacy is far-reaching.  The life of  Paul the Apostle is still encouraging, admonishing and equipping saints today

Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans
             Publishing Company, 1987.

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