Six Examples of Suicide in the Bible
The Bible shows us six different examples of suicides:
- Abimelech (Judges 9:54)
- Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
- Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-6)
- Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
- Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
- Judas (Matthew 27:5)
Five of them were famous not for virtue, but for ungodliness, with the exception of Saul's armor-bearer, of whom we don't know enough about his character. Though some would call Samson’s death a suicide, it seems best to not count it as such since his purpose was to kill God's enemies, the Philistines, and not himself (Judges 16:26–31).
Creation and God's Sovereignty Forbid Suicide on Principle
According to a Biblical world view, God is the Creator and Owner of all things, including men, and only He who is the giver of life (Job 1:21) has the right to take life. There is no exception made simply because the person being murdered is oneself. The Psalmist recognized God's sovereign right to "schedule" his birth, life, and death, when he said, “My times are in Your hands” (Psalm 31:15).
Examples of Depressed, Even Life-despairing, Men of God
Even as men and women mentioned in Scripture, we may find ourselves falling in "the pit of despair" and not feel like we wish to continue living. This is not surprising given fallen man's tendency to live for himself and pursue his own happiness and pleasure more than to pursue to true source of genuine happiness and pleasure in God Himself through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Solomon, the wisest man outside of Christ Himself who ever walked the earth, saw the vanity of life when not lived to fulfill man's true reason for existence- pleasing God and seeking to honor Him. For a time, he sought his own pleasure first and foremost and reached the point where he “hated life” (Ecclesiastes 2:17).
Elijah, on the heels of a great spiritual victory on Mt. Carmel, became afraid of Jezebel's wrath and fled to Mt. Sinai, where he became extremely depressed and longed for death (1 Kings 19:4). He even asked God to kill him - this from a great prophet of God! Men of the Bible were as human and frail as you or I, and we can learn much by studying their lives.
Jonah tells us of the time when he was so angry at God for sparing the cruel Ninevites, the enemies and terrorizers of his people, that he wished to die (Jonah 4:8). We can expect that the one who wrote the account of his own faulty attitude had by then repented of it, but again we see a great prophet of God falling into temporary despair and death wishes.
The Apostle Paul reports of himself and his missionary entourage that at one point “[We] were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
These Men Lived On to be Taught by God and to Teach Others of God
All of these men had struggles with finding purpose in life, however, none of them killed themselves.
- Solomon learned the truth that was "the conclusion of the whole matter" of his spiritual journey and of his Book: “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
- Elijah would soon ride to the heavens on a chariot of fire, but first God sent an angel to comfort him, given a chance to rest and recover, and then sent on a new mission. God can comfort us with His Spirit with words of truth from His Word that give rest to our souls and purpose to each day of our lives.
- Jonah learned to forgive his enemies for all the pain they had caused his people and rejoice in their salvation, publishing that message and his own correction by God in the very Book of Jonah.
- Paul knew the purpose of his great afflictions: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
God teaches us in trials beyond our ability to bear that we must rely on His strength . . . not our own: Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." John 15:5 says, "...apart from me [Christ] we can do nothing."
Suicide is a Sin, But God's Grace and God's Salvation Stand Sure
The Bible considers suicide a sin. It is not necessarily the worst of all evils - for all sins carry the same eternal consequences (eternal punishment unless Christ's righteousness be credited to our accounts though faith in the merits of His cross), and other sins such as murdering others arguably have equal or greater temporal consequences. How a person dies does not determine his or her eternal destination, but instead the presence of absence of faith in Christ.
However, suicide can have a long-term negative effect on those left behind, and it may take time for them to recover emotionally. We should seek to rely on God's grace alone in times of trial (Psalm 67:1), and always trust fully in His eternal promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
If You Are Thinking About Suicide - Please Watch This Video Message