Question 36 (ABM) - Did King Saul Commit Suicide?
The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This series of Q&A relates to William Branham's doctrine and teaching. The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 36 - Did King Saul Commit Suicide?
William Branham stated that Saul did not kill himself.
It appears he simply did not read the Bible carefully. This is another example of William Branham not knowing his Bible or what I refer to as “lazy theology.”
- Saul never committed suicide. A Philistine killed him. Any of you Bible readers that reads it thoroughly know that. A Philistine killed him, and David killed the Philistine for it. All right. Notice, Saul was wounded; it's true. But he… A Philistine killed him. And David killed him because he said, "You have taken the life of the anointed of God." And Saul was a prophet himself.
Here are the problems with William Branham's view of Saul's death:
- 1. The Bible clearly states that Saul killed himself in 2 separate passages:
- 1 Samuel 31:4-6
- ...Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. 
- 1 Chronicles 10:4-6
- Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died. So Saul and his three sons died, and all his house died together.
- 2. In an attempt to gain favour with David, an Amalekite misjudges the reaction of the one he wants to impress. It is clear that his story does not tally with the events already recorded: Saul had not needed assistance in dying by his own spear. The Bible clearly states that he fell on his own sword.
- 2 Samuel 1:6-10
- Then David said to the young man who brought him the report, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”
- “I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” the young man said, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and their drivers in hot pursuit. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, ‘What can I do?’
- “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’
- ‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.
- “Then he said to me, ‘Stand here by me and kill me! I’m in the throes of death, but I’m still alive.’
- “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.” 
- 3. The Bible clearly states the man was an Amalekite and not a Philistine.
Here again, we see William Branham making a statement about scripture that is incorrect. He did not have a proper grasp of scripture. He would make statements based on one passage read in isolation.
Did William Branham interpret scripture incorrectly or was he simply misspeaking?
Response - William Branham misspoke
The bible does not always give a definitive explanation to things. It often leaves it to us to draw the conclusion of what is right, or wrong, or truth, or not. This is a good example of that. The bible gives us two stories about how Saul died. It does not explicitly tell us which story is more accurate. So based on the scripture, we can draw a conclusion, or interpretation, as to what exactly it meant.
In this situation we have to weight the internal evidence and decide what seems to be right. Ultimately the answer itself is not really important, but we can speculate at it. The point the Lord wishes to convey is that Saul, a man who disobeyed God, came to an unpleasant death as a result of his deeds. Then he also wishes to convey, that although Saul had many personal failings, he was still the anointed of God. Thus the one claimed to have took part in killing him was still worthy of a punishment. God also demonstrates the irony of it all: the Amalakite would have been dead if Saul had obeyed God.
Both stories relate to us that Saul fell on his own weapon with the purpose of killing himself. The question then is, did he actually die from that, or did someone have to finish him off? So we look for evidence to guide our understanding.
First I want to point out an obvious fact:
1 Samuel 31:4-6
- ...Saul took his own sword and fell on it. When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.
How did this story get reported back if all of the participants in the event were dead? Clearly, the armor bearer did not live to bring back the story that he witnessed the death of Saul. Clearly everyone else that was with him also died. So how did this story ever get recorded or reported that Saul had committed suicide if all witnesses were dead before it could be reported?
There are two options we can see from scripture to answer those questions. 1) Israel heard it via the Philistines, or 2) It was heard via a single reported witness who happened to be in the vicinity by chance.
The Philistines clearly were not present when Saul fell on his sword, and thus would have no first hand knowledge and would have judged it by the appearance of the scene when they found it the next day.
1 Samuel 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.
The second account is the only one which actually claims to have eye-witnessed the event, and then reported it to David.
2 Samuel 1:6-10
- “He asked me, ‘Who are you?’
- ‘An Amalekite,’ I answered.
- “So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.”
So, I could stop here and say, I think the eye witness account is the account more likely to be true. But let every word be established by two or three witnesses. So going on one witness we must be cautious. The eye-witness may have just been attempting to gain favor with David.
I believe the only eye witness account is the most likely to be true. This is the interpretation Bro. Branham took. And it seems to me to be a perfectly fair assessment of the facts, and it the way I would lean in interpreting it as well.
However, the bible is not clear enough in itself for us to say which account is right. We have to acknowledge that neither account is plainly said to be the accurate account by the scripture. And because understanding the specific details of Saul's death is unimportant to understanding the true meaning of the story, this is not a point on which one should stake anything really...
In regards to Bro. Branham saying he was a Philistine, he was remembering the scripture incorrectly. That is not a matter of interpretation. There is no way to misinterpret Amalakite as Philistine. That can only be ascribed to incorrect recollection.
In regards to his interpretation as to Saul not committing suicide, I would argue that Bro. Branham's assessment is actually the most likely, as it is the only account claimed to be seen by an eye witness.
This is an example of William Branham being exalted over the Bible
I’m not surprised by your reaction as it is typical of the message. William Branham’s view is correct and you are prepared to overlook the plain reading of scripture to validate your view.
Every commentary I looked at agreed that, based on the other passages in scripture, the Amalekite was feeding David false info to make himself look good.
But you can’t see that based on WMB’s view which you must maintain at any cost.
The problem is that when you repeatedly do this, scripture eventually loses its position of authority and WMB supersedes it.
But we will continue with our little exercise to see if WMB’s views can be sustained st any cost.
- William Branham, 53-1112 - Demonology, para. 29
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Sa 31:4–6.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 1 Ch 10:4–6.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 2 Sa 1:5–10.