“Then he begged me, ‘Come over here and put me out of my misery, for I am in terrible pain and want to die.’ So I killed him, for I knew he couldn’t live” (2 Samuel 1:9-10, NLT).
King Saul was experiencing intense agony. God had rejected him, promising to take his kingdom from him. To make matters worse, he was fatally wounded in a stunning battlefield defeat on the slopes of Mount Gilboa by an arrow sent flying from a Philistine archer.
Suffering from his wounds and fearing that he would be tortured by the Philistines, the disgraced king directed his armorbearer to end his life. But the young man was afraid and rightly refused to play any part in the king’s death.
Seeking to hasten his end, Saul took matters into his own hands. He attempted suicide by falling on his own spear. It was all in vain; his foolish and faithless suicide attempt only exacerbated his misery instead of ending it.
Even still, King Saul soon found his ticket to death. When an Amalekite man who was fighting for Israel as a sojourner stumbled upon the king, Saul begged the man to put him out of his misery. The man obliged.
But when David learned what the Amalekite man had done, he gave orders for the man to be executed. Then David told him, “You have condemned yourself, for you confessed that you killed the Lord’s anointed one.”
Notice that Saul was terminally injured. Recovery was hopeless. He was even insisting that others help him end his suffering. Yet David condemned the Amalekite man to death for murder.
As the Christian theologian and ethicist Wayne Grudem persuasively articulates, “If it is wrong to actively murder another person, then the fact that a person would choose to be murdered does not nullify this moral conclusion.” The sixth commandment does not say, “You shall not murder unless the person is suffering, or unless the person wants to die.” It says, and definitively so: “You shall not murder.”
The Bible teaches that actively causing death to a terminally ill person is still murder, even if that person is feeling unbearable pain and is begging for death. Therefore, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are unequivocally wrong, and should never be given the color of law.
A better course of action would be to alleviate pain while compassionately caring for the person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Thankfully, God in his providence has allowed for modern medical care, which often makes this possible.
Because mankind is created in the image of God, our lives are sacred and valuable. Ultimately, our lives belong to him. The Lord told Moses, “I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals” (Deuteronomy 32:39). He alone has written every day of our lives before even one of them came to be. May we trust him, even in the waning days of our lives.
PRAYER. Creator God, show us the value of human life and its beauty. We know that you want the aged, the sick, and the terminally ill to be treated with compassion and righteousness. May the Holy Spirit turn hearts and illuminate your truth so that unjust laws that permit murder, like euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, will be repealed and life will be protected. In Jesus name, amen.