|The song refers to the death of King Saul (Sha'ul), first king of ancient Israel, who battled the Philistines on Mt. Gilboa. |
Conflicting accounts of what happened are given in the last chapter of Samuel I, and first chapter of Samuel II.
In the first, Saul, about to be overcome by the Philistines, falls on his sword in order to kill himself. It seems clear he died that way. But later, an Amalekite boy comes to David's camp with Saul's crown and bracelet, reporting he killed Saul.
According to him, Saul, leaning on his spear (perhaps paralyzed by stroke or injury, perhaps crouching as he leaned on the spear after an unsuccessful suicide attempt?) spots the boy and asks him to kill him.
The boy obeys, claiming Saul would have died in any case. Possibly the boy is lying. He may have come along afterwards and taken credit, thinking David would reward him.
The song supports the boy's story, picturing Saul and him alone together in Saul's moment of weakness.
* The emek (valley) is Emek Yizrael, Israel's largest valley, often called just Ha'Emek (The Valley). In English, the Jezreel Valley.