1 Samuel 31:4—Was Saul’s suicide justifiable?
Problem: King Saul was mortally wounded, and he asked his armorbearer to assist him in committing suicide. Was this justified?
Solution: Suicide is murder, and the Bible says, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). It makes no difference that the life taken is one’s own. All life belongs to God, and He alone has the right to take it (Deut. 32:39; Job 1:21).
Even the most desperate believers in the Bible who desired death never considered suicide a morally viable alternative. Rather, recognizing the sovereign hand of God over human life, they prayed like Jonah: “Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3). Though they wanted God to take it, they never considered it right to take it themselves.
Furthermore, with the exception of Samson (see comments on Jud. 16:26–27), there are at least five cases of suicide recorded in Scripture, and none of them is approved by God—Abimelech (Jud. 9:50–56); Saul (1 Sam. 31:1–6); Zimri (1 Kings 16:18–19); Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23); and Judas who betrayed Christ (Matt. 27:3–10). Each met a tragic death, and none met with divine approval. Suicide is an attack on the image of God in man (Gen. 1:27) and an attempt to usurp God’s sovereignty over human life.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.