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Saturday, April 19 2014
1 Samuel 31: Saul's Last Stand
"So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together"
The Philistines had been Israel's most militarily-powerful enemy since the time of Joshua nearly three centuries earlier (see Joshua 1: Joshua's Commission). The Philistines had however never killed an Israelite king in battle. Saul, Israel's first king, would be their first trophy.
"31:1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa." (1 Samuel 31:1 KJV)
With his army breaking around him, Saul's three sons, including Jonathan (see 1 Samuel 20: David and Jonathan), died before their father.
"31:2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul's sons.
Saul feared capture more than death. When it seemed that his wounds were not mortal, Saul commanded his armourbearer to kill him. When the armourbearer refused, "Saul took a sword, and fell upon it."
"31:4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me.
The Philistines then looted and occupied the northern Israel cities that were left undefended by the retreating Israelites.
"31:7 And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them." (1 Samuel 31:7 KJV)
Saul's fear of being captured alive was justified. His death unfortunately didn't stop atrocities to the bodies of Saul and his sons. While the Israelites were later able to recover the bodies, their heads were sent as trophies "into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people."
"31:8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. 31:9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people. 31:10 And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.
This Day In History, April 19
65: Milichus betrayed Piso's plot to assassinate the Emperor Nero (see also Nero's Torches).
531: The Battle of Callinicum. A Byzantine army under the command of Belisarius was defeated by the Persians (Persia is today known as Iran) at Ar-Raqqah in northern Syria.
1012: Aelfheah, the 29th Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by Danes who had been ravaging the south of England.
1529: In Germany at the Diet of Spires (Speyer), a document signed by Lutheran leaders lodged a "protest" that demanded freedom of religion and the right of minorities. From then on, the German Lutheran Reformers were known as "Protestants."
1539: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V signed the Truce of Frankfurt with rebellious Protestant princes (see The Holy Roman Empire).
1587: English Admiral Sir Francis Drake entered Cadiz harbor and sank the Spanish fleet, an action he referred to "as singeing the king of Spain's beard."
1689: Queen Christina of Sweden died. Queen from 1644-54, she gave up the throne because of her secret conversion to Roman Catholicism, which was outlawed in Sweden.
1713: Holy Roman emperor Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction, giving women the rights of succession to Hapsburg possessions.
1770: Captain James Cook sighted the eastern coast of what is now Australia.
1770: Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI of France.
1802: The Spanish reopened the port of New Orleans to U.S. merchants (the U.S. then consisted of the former New England colonies).
1809: The Battles of Abensberg-Eckmuhl began. Over the next 4 days, a series of defeats for Austria, which cost it the support of other German states in the 1809 campaign against Napoleon. The battles were fought in Bavaria between 190,000 Austrians under Archduke Charles and 176,000 French and allied troops under Napoleon.
1839: The Treaty of London was signed, establishing recognition of the new Kingdom of Belgium, which had separated from the Netherlands, by all the states of Europe.
1850: The Clayton-Bulwer agreement was signed under which Britain and the U.S. agreed not to obtain exclusive control of a proposed Panama Canal (the U.S. later did anyway).
1882: Charles Darwin, English naturalist who developed the theory of evolution, died (listen to our Sermon Darwin's Theory of Evolution).
1906: Pierre Curie, French chemist and physicist, was run over and killed in Paris. With his wife, Marie, he had made numerous discoveries involving magnetism and radioactivity.
1933: President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation removing the U.S. from the gold standard - in effect, money became nothing more than printed paper with "nothing to back it up," which enabled governments to print as much money as they wanted, thereby reducing its declared value even more each time.
1938: General Francisco Franco declared victory in the Spanish Civil War.
1943: The Warsaw Ghetto uprising against Nazi occupation began.
1954: The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan proclaimed Urdu and Bengali as the official national languages of Pakistan.
1971: The launch of the first space station, the Russian Salyut 1.
1989: A gun turret exploded on the USS Iowa; 47 sailors were killed.
1993: Over 80 members of the "Branch Davidian" group, including their leader David Koresh, died when U.S. federal agents stormed their compound in Waco, Texas after a 51 day siege.
1995: The worst act of terrorism in U.S. territory (until September 11 2001, if one doesn't include the many documented incidents of genocide of native American men, women and children through the 1800s) occurred when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed by the terrorist Timothy McVeigh (a white, "Christian," U.S. Army veteran who demonstrated that anyone can be a "terrorist"). 168 people, including infants, were killed.
1999: The German Bundestag (Parliament) returned to Berlin, the first German parliamentary body to meet there since the Nazi Reichstag was dissolved in 1945.
2005: After the death of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope of the Church of Rome. The new Pope assumed the name Benedict XVI.
2011: Due to illness and old age, Fidel Castro resigned from the Communist Party of Cuba's central committee. He held the office for 45 years.