1 Samuel Chapter 14

Saul was the king of Israel for two years, when he attacked some of the Philistines and provoked them to war. The Philistines brought countless soldiers along with many chariots and horses to the battle. Saul and his army of much fewer men, were unprepared to fight so great an army. Saul had also over-stepped his authority as the king, and in making his own burnt sacrifice to the Lord, had lost the support of God in his leadership. This chapter begins with the following:

1 Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
2 And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men;
3 And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, I-chabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.

Saul’s son Jonathan, decided to go against the Philistines without telling his father. Meanwhile, Saul was with about 600 of his men in Gibeah and Ahiah the priest, who wore the ephod of the priesthood. They were all unaware of Jonathan’s decision.

4 And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
5 The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.
7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
9 If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
10 But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the Lord hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
11 And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
12 And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
14 And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
17 Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.
18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.

In the paths leading to the garrison, there was a place between two jagged rocks. This was the spot between their two armies. Jonathan put his trust in the Lord, who had promised to fight with the Israelites if they would put their faith in Him. Jonathan knew that in times past, the Lord had blessed small numbers of Israelites to have victory their enemy, no matter what the size of their army was. His armor-bearer faithfully stood by his side. Jonathan said they would allow themselves to be discovered by the Philistines. If the Philistines told them to stay where they were and allow the Philistines to come to them, they would stay. If the Philistines invited them to come to them, Jonathan would know it was a sign from God that He delivered the Philistines into their hands. In faith, they would go towards the Philistines. Jonathan and his armor-bearer went through with their plan. The Philistines discovered them and invited them to go to them and be shown something. Jonathan then knew that God had delivered them into his hands. Jonathan began to kill the soldiers in the garrison. He and his armor-bearer killed about twenty soldiers. The Philistines became scared and trembled. Even the earth began to tremble. Saul’s watchmen saw that the host of the Philistines began to melt away. Saul looked to see who had left his men to fight alone, and saw that it was his son and his armor-bearer. Then Saul called for the priest to bring the ark of the covenant to him.

19 And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.
20 And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
21 Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.
22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
23 So the Lord saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven.

As Saul was talking with the priest, the noise of the battle grew and so he changed his mind. Instead, Saul gathered with his men and they went to the battle and there was great confusion. The Israelites who had fled when the Philistines arrived, saw that the Philistines were beginning to flee, so they began to gather back together with the host of Israel. The Israelites fought hard and with the help of the Lord, Israel was saved.

24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
26 And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
28 Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint.
29 Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?
31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.

Saul had told his people to go without food until the evening, so that he would be avenged of his enemies. This sounds like a command for the people to fast for their victory, but as far as we know, it was his own idea, not that of the Lord’s. As the host of Israel moved forward, they came to a wooded area with honey on the ground. No one would touch the honey because of the oath they had made to their king. Jonathan had not been with the people when Saul had made this oath. Because he had not known of the oath, he went ahead and ate some of the honey. He was strengthened by the food. One of the men told Jonathan of the oath they had made. Jonathan saw they the people were weak because they had not eaten. Jonathan felt his father had done wrong and he showed the people that he had been strengthened by the honey. He felt they should have been able to eat the spoils of the battle they had one. The people listened to the words of Jonathan and began to eat the animals in the land, against the oath they had made with Saul, and in a manner that would not have been acceptable to God.

33 Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.
34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the Lord in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.
35 And Saul built an altar unto the Lord: the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord.

Saul was told what his people had done, and he chastised them for their transgression against him. He told them to bring the animals to be cooked and eaten in the way that God had commanded them to eat meat. He did not want his people to sin against the Lord. Saul built his first altar unto the Lord.

36 And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God.
37 And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
38 And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.
39 For, as the Lord liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.
40 Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee.
41 Therefore Saul said unto the Lord God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.

Saul told the people they would destroy the Philistines during the night and the people were willing to follow him. The priests told Saul to draw near unto the Lord, so Saul asked the Lord if going down to attack the Philistines was the right thing to do. He did not receive an answer to his prayer. He felt that some sin of the people was the reason for not getting an answer. He called the leaders together, to find out who had sinned. He was willing to put the person to death, even if it was his own son, Jonathan. The people did not answer him. He decided to find out from the Lord who had sinned, so he separated Jonathan and himself from the people, and asked the Lord to select which group he was looking for. Jonathan and Saul were chosen, so Saul asked the Lord again, which person it was. Jonathan was chosen. Saul asked his son what he had done, and Jonathan told him that he had eaten during the time when Saul had an oath of fasting with the people. Jonathan recognized that he should die. Saul said that he would die, but the people together, made a plea for Jonathan because he had been the reason for their victory against the Philistines, and the Lord had been on his side. Because of the words of the people, Jonathan was not killed. Saul decided not to follow after the Philistines, probably because he had not received direction from the Lord to pursue them. Instead, he returned to his own place and allowed the Philistines to do the same.

47 So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.
48 And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.
49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-shua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:
50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.
51 And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
52 And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.

Saul gathered his armies and began to fight against all of their enemies. He fought the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, kings of Zobah and the Philistines. He attacked the Amalekites also. The Israelites fought long and hard against the Philistines, and any man who was strong or valiant, was gathered to Saul’s army. Saul had 3 sons, Jonathan, Ishui, and Melchi-shau, and 2 daughters, Merab and Michal. His wife was Ahinoam, and his cousin, Abner, was the captain of his army.

Once again, faith in the Lord brought victory to the Israelites. Jonathan was a great example of faith in the Lord. He knew the history of his people, and that the Lord had used few men to defeat great enemies. Jonathan gathered his courage and went without an amry of men, to fight the portion of the Philistines gathered near him. He did this because he trusted that the Lord was on his side and would fight the battle with him. When we do what is right, the Lord will be on our side. During our daily battles with the adversary and temptation, we can trust in the Lord and He will help us to have the strength to overcome, just as he helped Jonathan and the Israelites.

This part of the story of Saul, teaches us the importance of turning to the Lord for guidance, which we can do through prayer. In his own wisdom and pride, Saul was prepared to go against the Philistines in the night, but the leaders reminded him to council with the Lord first. When they did this, they learned that the Lord would not be with them in this fight, and they knew it would be better for them to wait. We can turn to the Lord in every decision in our life. The Lord will give us the answers we need. He will guide us to find the answers when it would be better for us to learn for ourselves. Sometimes he will not answer us immediately, and we can know that the timing is not right, just as it was not right for Saul and the armies of Israel. No matter what the outcome may be, it is always appropriate to council with the Lord on things of importance to our lives. When we humbly seek the Lord’s guidance, He will help us do what is right.

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