Saul’s Death – ATA

Did Saul kill himself (1 Samuel 31:3-4), or was he killed by an Amalekite (2 Samuel 1:6-10), or by the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:12), or by the LORD (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)? Is there a contradiction?


Four different verses give us four different perspectives on the death of Saul. The fact is, three of the four are true, and yet do not contradict one another.

How did Saul die? 1 Samuel 31 says he was wounded by a Philistine arrow. His armorbearer refused to kill him, so Saul took his own life (1 Samuel 31:3-4).

The Philistines arrow wasn’t the final blow that killed Saul, and yet without it, he would not have killed himself. He knew he was going to die, and did not want the Philistines to torture him before ending his life. The Hebrew word translated as “slain” in 2 Samuel 21:12 (KJV) doesn’t have to mean kill, but can refer to being struck or wounded, which was certainly the case.

Before going the battle with the Philistines, Saul was distressed. The LORD wouldn’t answer him (for he was not faithful to God), so he went to a medium. The Lord raised the prophet Samuel before her. He told Saul that the Lord had become his enemy (1 Samuel 28:16), had torn the kingdom from him (v 17), and that Saul would die the next day (19). God didn’t directly  kill Saul, but He did deliver Him to the Philistines.

What about the Amalekite who claimed he killed Saul? His account differs from the record in 1 Samuel 31, not because there is a contradiction, but because he lied, with the hope of being rewarded by David (who would be the next king). His reward for claiming to kill Saul, and bringing the king’s crown and bracelet to David was to be killed himself.

There is no contradiction.

A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.

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