1 Samuel 3:4, Is Suicide a Sin?

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.

//Saul, the first king of Israel, dies by suicide. His armor bearer, seeing Saul dead, commits the same act, falling on his sword. There are three more suicides reported in the Old Testament. Can you guess any of them?

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. –Judges 16:30

And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died. –2 Samuel 17:23

And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died. –1 Kings 16:18

None of these are described as a sin. Nor is the most famous suicide of all in the Bible: that of Judas. If anything, it appears that Judas killed himself to repent for his sin!

Yet, somehow, many branches of Christianity adopt the Roman Catholic stance by assuming suicide is a grave sin. The theory is that life belongs to God, and it’s inappropriate to take or destroy the property of God. Perhaps this is so, but certainly this view isn’t biblical.

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2 Comments

  1. Lee,

    It could even be said that Jesus committed suicide. If we take the view that Jesus was/is God, he certainly had the power to prevent his execution. It appears that he knew what was coming, talked about it, and planned for it.

  2. Lee Harmon

    Hard to argue with that!

    I’m reminded of Candida Moss’s The Myth of Persecution, and a little-known sect of Christianity she wrote about, who considered suicide a sin and martyrdom a virtue, so they went about antagonizing others trying to get themselves killed.

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