Who Committed Suicide in the Bible and Went to Heaven?

Suicide is a difficult topic that many Christians struggle with understanding. On one hand, life is a gift from God that is precious. On the other, many godly people in the Bible experienced deep depression and anguish. This post will analyze several biblical figures who took their own lives and look at what Scripture says about their eternal destiny.

Key Takeaways:

  • Samson is the clearest example of someone who committed suicide and seems to have gone to heaven.
  • King Saul fell on his own sword but his motives were more ambiguous. His eternal destiny is debatable.
  • Judas betrayed Jesus and then hung himself, but Jesus called him the “son of perdition” so he did not go to heaven.
  • The Bible shows suicide is a sin, but does not necessarily exclude people from salvation. We must have faith in God’s mercy.

Suicide is devastating and goes against God’s plans, yet He understands our weaknesses and offers forgiveness. Christians should not judge what only God can see – the heart and motivations of a person.

Who Committed Suicide in the Bible and Went to Heaven?

Samson – A Hero Who Took His Own Life

Samson is one of the most well-known figures in the Bible who committed suicide. He was part of a special group of leaders called the Judges who God raised up to deliver Israel during the time of the Promised Land. Samson was imbued with supernatural strength through the Holy Spirit to perform heroic feats and inspire the Israelites to resist their Philistine oppressors.

However, Samson had a weakness – he was prone to sexual immorality and having inappropriate relationships with Philistine women. During his exploits, he met and fell in love with Delilah. She was bribed by the Philistine leaders to discover the secret of Samson’s strength. After many attempts, she finally goaded Samson into revealing that his power came from his uncut hair and vow as a Nazirite. As Judges 16:19 explains:

Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. (NKJV)

With his hair gone, Samson was captured by the Philistines. They gouged out his eyes and forced him to entertain them by grinding at a mill in a prison. During one festival celebration, they brought him into a temple where thousands of Philistines had gathered to celebrate their victory over Samson and their gods.

At this low point, Samson prayed to God to strengthen him one last time. God answered his prayer, and Samson pushed over the pillars supporting the temple. This act killed Samson and all the Philistine leaders and people inside. As Judges 16:30 summarizes:

Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. (NKJV)

Samson’s final act was clearly suicide. He knew that pushing over the pillars would lead to his own death along with the Philistines. However, Samson seems to have done this out of devotion to God’s purposes. The Philistines were oppressing Israel, and Samson wanted victory over them more than preserving his own life.

Because of this, most Bible scholars believe that Samson went to heaven after his death. God honored his self-sacrifice and desire to defeat His enemies, even though taking his own life would normally be a sin. The writer of Hebrews affirms Samson’s faith in the “Hall of Faith” passage:

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. (Hebrews 11:32-33 NKJV)

So despite his obvious flaws, Samson is remembered as a hero who demonstrated faith in God up to the end of his life. His suicide was within the Lord’s will to defeat the enemies of Israel.

King Saul’s Ambiguous Suicide

Another famous biblical figure who took his own life was King Saul, the first anointed king of Israel. Saul started as a humble man whom God blessed as leader. However, later in his reign, Saul began to disobey God’s commands. This eventually led God to reject him from being king.

The prophet Samuel anointed David as the new king, which made Saul very jealous. Saul spent years trying to kill David, who had to flee and live as an outlaw. During this time, the Philistines gathered a massive army to attack Israel. Saul’s army assembled at Mount Gilboa, greatly outnumbered.

The Philistines routed the Israelites, killing Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua (1 Samuel 31:2). Saul was critically injured by Philistine archers. Rather than be captured and tortured, Saul decided to take his own life. 1 Samuel 31:4 describes his end:

Then Saul said to his armorbearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me.” But his armorbearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it. And when his armorbearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword, and died with him. (NKJV)

Clearly, Saul committed suicide rather than be shamed by the Philistines. However, his motives and spiritual state are more ambiguous than Samson’s. Some speculate that Saul knew God had rejected him as king and felt despair over his mistakes. Others think he simply wanted to avoid torture and humiliation.

Whatever his reasons, Saul’s suicide had some honorable intentions of protecting Israel from Philistine desecration. But Saul also made many evil choices during his life that cannot be excused. Ultimately, Saul’s eternal destiny is debatable and not clearly answered in Scripture. Christians can hope he humbled himself and received God’s mercy at the end.

Judas Iscariot’s Eternal Damnation

In contrast to Samson and Saul, the Bible presents Judas Iscariot’s suicide after betraying Jesus as a complete act of evil leading to damnation.

Judas was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples who followed Him during His earthly ministry. However, Judas became greedy and angry that Jesus did not overthrow the Romans as he expected. Under Satan’s influence, Judas turned against Jesus and agreed to help the Jewish leaders arrest Him in exchange for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16).

After the arrest, Judas saw that the Jewish priests had condemned Jesus to death. Matthew 27:3-5 describes his reaction:

Then Judas, His 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.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. (NKJV)

Rather than repent, Judas’ suicide was an act of hopelessness and self-condemnation for his immense sin. Jesus Himself confirmed Judas was eternally damned when predicting his betrayal:

The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.” (Matthew 26:24-25 NKJV)

And after Judas’ death, this judgment was affirmed:

“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’” (Acts 1:16-20 NKJV)

Despite being Jesus’ disciple, Judas betrayed Him and refused to repent. His suicide was a tragic end to a life of greed and evil. Scripture unequivocally condemns Judas to hell as the “son of perdition.”

Biblical Warnings Against Suicide

Although Samson’s suicide to destroy the Philistines was within God’s will, the Bible contains many warnings that taking one’s own life is a grave sin. God is the author and giver of life, so we do not have the right to destroy what He has created in His image. As Job 1:21 states in the midst of suffering:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there.The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (NKJV)

Some specific passages that warn against suicide include:

  • “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13 NKJV)
  • “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV)
  • “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)

These and other verses confirm that our lives belong to God, and He decides when it is our time to die. Suicide is rebelling against God’s sovereignty and damaging His temple through our body. It is never justified except in extremely rare circumstances directed by the Holy Spirit, as with Samson.

Avoiding Rash Judgments, Extending Hope

While Scripture consistently portrays suicide as a grave sin, Christians must be careful not to make rash judgments about someone’s eternal state who has taken their own life.

Only God can see the whole heart, motives and spiritual condition of a person. Many who commit suicide are in a state of deep anguish, mental illness or confusion that diminishes their culpability. While suicide is objectively wrong, subjectively the person may still receive God’s mercy and salvation, as we can hope for King Saul.

The Catholic Church has traditionally denied funeral masses for those who die by suicide, but this policy is changing to show more compassion. As the Catechism states:

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2282-2283)

Protestants also debate whether suicide absolutely excludes someone from heaven. However, the consistent teaching is that taking one’s life is a rejection of God’s sovereignty and love. It damages those left behind and often occurs when people stop trusting God. Therefore, suicide should always be considered a grave evil and tragedy, even if subjective guilt varies.

Above all, Christians must respond to suicidal thoughts and actions with love, understanding, and hope. We should work to prevent suicide while recognizing that darkness over people’s hearts can drive them to it. God’s mercy extends to even the most despairing situations.

Paul encourages Christians:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:15-21 NKJV)

If we live by these principles, we can show Christ’s love to all people, no matter their sins. Suicide is a horrible tragedy, but the blood of Jesus offers redemption even to those in the deepest darkness. We must pray that all who are distraught will turn to Him for hope, forgiveness, and new life.

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