Four Suicidal Chariots: Cowardice & Despair, Rebellion & Unbelief

1 Samuel 31:3-5

And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. 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. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Saul thus desperately slew himself, lest he should be slain by the enemy. Seneca counts it a mercy to a man in misery that he may, by commiting suicide, let out his life when he will; and this he calls valour and manhood.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Seneca prescribes it as the last remedy which those that are in distress may have recourse to. The Stoics, notwithstanding their pretended conquest of the passions, yielded thus far to them. And the Epicureans, who indulged the pleasures of sense, to avoid its pains chose rather to put an end to it.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): There have been infidels in all ages who have advocated that it’s a justifiable means of release from trial and difficulty; yet thinking men, as far back as Aristotle, have generally condemned it as cowardly and unjustifiable under any conditions.

RICHARD ROGERS (1550-1618): If a wise man weigh it, there is more cowardliness in preventing troubles and crosses by violence, then enduring them patiently.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Saul was given up to the blackness of despair.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Such despair is not uncommon―indeed it is but too common for those who are bowed down with a load of worldly troubles, to seek relief in suicide.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Is suicide a sin, or not?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Thou shalt not kill,” Exodus 20:13. The words are better rendered, ‘thou shalt do no murder.’ And if we are not to murder others, then certainly not ourselves, so that suicide is here plainly and absolutely forbidden.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Suicide is self-murder, and is one of the most desperate crimes which can be committed.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): It is the most unnatural and barbarous kind of murder for a man to butcher himself…A man’s self is most near to him, therefore this sin of self-murder breaks both the law of God, and the bonds of nature―No creature but man willingly kills itself.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Suicide, the refuge of defeated monarchs and praised by heathen moralists as heroic, was rare in Israel. The most rudimentary recognition of the truths taught by the Old Testament would prevent it.

D. L. MOODY: The Bible does not mention one single instance of a good man committing suicide. In the four thousand years of Old Testament history it records only four suicides, and only one suicide in the New Testament: Saul, king of Israel, and his armourbearer; Ahithophel; Zimri; and Judas Iscariot, are the five cases. Look at the references in the Bible to see what kind of men they were.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Zimri in rebellious madness threw himself into the flames, 1 Kings 16:18; Ahithophel and Judas “chose strangling rather than life,” 2 Samuel 17:23; Matthew 27:5.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We find [one more example]―Abimelech, a man who murdered his own brethren without compunction. “A certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to break his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armour bearer and said unto him, Draw your sword and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died,” Judges 9:53,54. Shame was too much for him. He would far rather meet the suicide’s death—for such it was.

D. L. MOODY: No man has a right to take his own life from such motives any more than the life of another.

CHARLES SIMEON: Men of this world have one method―as they think―of terminating their miseries, namely, by suicide. A poor and fatal “device” indeed! yet such as it is, they resort to it for relief.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Despair is among the greatest crimes, and often ends in self-murder, a remedy still worse than the disease: for the deepest guilt there is mercy to be hoped, while life continues; but, when men fly from God to the devil for ease by suicide, they are undone for ever.

A. W. PINK: Inasmuch as this sin precludes repentance on the part of its perpetrator, it is beyond forgiveness―they destroy not only their bodies but their souls, too.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL  (1635-1711): They renounce God, heaven, and hell, and imagine that with their death they will put an end to their unpleasant circumstances. This is the work of ungodly men, and is tantamount to plunging alive into hell and eternal damnation.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: If Saul had had any faith in God, any submission, any repentance―he could not have finished a life of rebellion by a self-inflicted death, which was itself the very desperation of rebellion.

A. W. PINK: This, in itself, is quite sufficient in our judgment to settle the matter—the only ones mentioned in Scripture who directly took their own lives, were not believers—but unbelievers!

C. H. SPURGEON: Unbelief! It has sharpened the knife of the suicide! It has mixed many a cup of poison. Thousands it has brought to the halter and many to a shameful grave who have murdered themselves and rushed with bloody hands before their Creator’s tribunal because of unbelief!

J. C. PHILPOT: Is rebellion a sin, unbelief a sin, despair a sin? then suicide must be a sin of sins; for it is the last fruit, the highest summit of those sins. Can a man who commits it be said to die in faith, or hope, or love? Where is “receiving the end of faith, the salvation of the soul, ” if a man dies in unbelief, as a suicide must do? How can his hope be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,” if it breaks in the storm? And where is love, when he bids defiance to the Almighty by breaking through the bounds of life and death which He has set?

MATTHEW HENRY: All the cautions of the Word of God against sin, and all appearances of it and approaches to it, have this tendency, “Do thyself no harm,” Acts 16:28.―“Man, woman, do not wrong thyself, nor ruin thyself; hurt not thyself, and then none else can hurt thee; do not sin, for nothing else can hurt thee.”

CHARLES SIMEON: Those who have no God to go to, often sink under their troubles, and not unfrequently seek refuge from them in suicide―But we have a God to go unto; a God who says, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee.” As for spiritual trouble, we are no more able to endure it than Judas was, who, from a sense of guilt, took refuge in suicide. If  “help were not laid upon One that is mighty,” upon One who says to us, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;” what hope could any one of us enjoy?


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