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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, January 27 2022

Did anyone in the Bible commit suicide?

Suicide is a difficult and tragic reality in many lives, but God loves every individual and does not desire that any of us should suffer under the weight of sin, guilt, depression or suicidal thoughts.

There are cases of suicide in the Bible, but these were primarily acts of desperation in the heat of a moment rather than the result of prolonged depression. God's prophets expressed some seemingly suicidal thoughts in times of distress, but the Bible does not indicate that any of these righteous men desired to kill themselves or that they ever attempted to do so.

Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is the most prominent example of suicide in the Bible. When Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned to die, he suddenly realized the gravity of what he had done:

"Then Judas, [Jesus'] betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.' . . .  Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:3-5).

Judas hastily committed suicide because he was unable to cope with his guilt before God. His act of suicide along with his apparent remorse has caused many to wonder: Is Judas Iscariot in Hell?

There are also examples in the Bible in which men committed suicide to avoid impending death at the hands of an enemy. These include Saul, the first king of ancient Israel, who took his own life after being injured in battle (1 Samuel 31:4-5). Another was Ahithophel, an advisor to King David who had betrayed him and so was at risk of death when David regained control (2 Samuel 17:23).

The story of Samson is related but stands in unique contrast. Having been captured by the Philistines and forced to entertain them, he famously pulled down an entire building as a final act of defiance and died in the process (Judges 16:28-30). While this could technically be considered suicide, it was in fact a self-sacrificing demonstration of his restored faith in God.

Finally, there are numerous servants of God whose lives became so difficult that they wanted to die or even wished they had never been born, but none of these men actually articulated the intention or desire to kill themselves. Among these are righteous Job (Job 6:8-11), the great prophets Elijah (2 Kings 19:2-4) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14-18), and the reluctant prophet Jonah (Jonah 4:3-8). The apostle Paul, who suffered incredible physical and emotional difficulties in preaching the gospel, noted that it would be more comfortable for him to die but that he submitted himself fully to the will of God, since living meant that he could continue to preach the gospel and serve God's people (Philippians 1:19-25).

Suicide is a difficult and tragic reality in modern culture that should never take place. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please seek immediate professional help. God loves every individual and does not desire that any of us should suffer under the weight of sin, guilt, depression or suicidal thoughts. He is willing to forgive you from any sin, and He has a purpose for your life. That purpose requires action that is sometimes difficult to bear, but the end result is joy and peace that no one can take from us (John 16:22). The prophets and apostles suffered greatly during their lifetimes, and their examples teach us to be strengthened in faith and to fix our hope on deliverance from God.