1 Samuel 31: Honoring the Dead

11 But when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and went all night and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. -1 Samuel 31:11-12

Saul’s life ended as a victim of war. He died at the hands of his enemies, was beheaded by the Philistines. His death was celebrated by his enemies, marking the demise of Israel.

In contrast, we are told men from Jabesh-gilead traveled at night to claim the body of Saul as well as his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. They returned to their city, burned the decayed flesh, and buried their bones appropriately. They ended this honorable burial with seven days of fasting or abstaining from food.

These men could have stayed home, remained comfortable, and allowed the bodies of Saul and his sons to rot under the control of their enemies. Instead, they chose to do the hard thing and honor them with a proper burial.

Honoring the dead involves more than where a person is buried; it involves treating life with respect, with honor, with dignity. After all, we are each created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The implication of this creation includes the way we honor the dead.

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Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of all 31,173 verses of the Bible at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.

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