1Samuel 13-14

Thursday Evening Bible Study

March 15, 2012

Introduction

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

We’ve seen the nation transition from the time of the judges, when God used men like Samuel to guide the nation, to the time of the kings.

Saul was anointed to be the first king during a time when the Ammonites threatened the land of Gilead and had besieged Jabesh Gilead.

Saul was able to raise an army of 330,000, and brought about a great victory for Israel. Now it’s time for things to settle down a bit.

1Samuel 13

13:1-15 Saul’s Impatience

:1 Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

The Hebrew here is a bit unclear and some of your versions say different things, but I think I like the New King James translation here the best.

It reads something like:

“A year Saul reigned and two years he reigned over Israel”.

The King James and New King James take it to mean that the events of the last chapter took place during the first year of Saul’s reign, while the next chapter starts with the second year of his reign.

Another way is to say that Saul was a pure and innocent as a one year old child, and this is how the Jewish paraphrase called the “Targum” translates it:

“as the son of a year, in whom there are no faults, so was Saul when he reigned;”
(1 Sa 13:1 The Message) —1 Saul was a young man when he began as king. He was king over Israel for many years.

Others take it to mean that he was only a “year old” in the Lord, from the time that he had been changed into another man (1 Sam. 10:6,9)

Some of the newer translations feel that there has been an “ellipsis”, that part of the text has been left out, and that we must assume that there is a missing number. With this approach, there have been several ways of looking at it.

(1 Sa 13:1 NIV) —1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty- two years.
(1 Sa 13:1 NASB95) —1 Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.
But keep in mind, it’s the the translators that are supplying their “best guess” as to what was missing.
They get the “forty-two” number because Paul said (Acts 13:21) that Saul reigned for forty years.

(Ac 13:21 NKJV) —21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

We’ll take it to mean that the last chapter happened in Saul’s first year, and this chapter takes place in his second year.

:2 Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent.

:2 Saul chose for himself …

When Saul conquered the Ammonites back in 1Samuel 11, Saul had gathered an army of 330,000 men. From these men, he now chooses 3,000 to be in his standing army. He will command 2,000 men, and give 1,000 men to be commanded by his son Jonathan.

:2 JonathanYownathan – “Yahweh has given”

This is Saul’s eldest son, the “crown prince” of Israel.

:2 Michmash … Bethel … Gibeah

See map clip – Michmash Gibeah Map. The Israeli armies are split between Michmash and Gibeah, while the Philistines have expanded their territory up into the hills to a city called Geba.

:3 And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!”

:3 Saul blew the trumpet

It might sound like Saul is trying to “blow his own horn” and claiming a victory from something that his son did. Probably not.

Blowing the trumpet was a way of communicating with the nation. There were several reasons for blowing trumpets – like gathering the people, directing the army, and celebrating at feast times.

When there was war:

(Nu 10:9 NKJV) —9 “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.

:4 Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel had also become an abomination to the Philistines. And the people were called together to Saul at Gilgal.

:4 garrison[email protected] – set over, prefect, deputy, garrison

The Jewish paraphrase, the “Targum”, takes the idea of the “garrison” as being an individual. The idea is that Jonathan struck against a person, a governor that the Philistines had set in place to gather taxes from Israel.

Though we tend to look at Israel as always being the “good guys” (and I think we should), to put this in a modern context, it was as if the Israelites assassinated a government official, making them the “bad guys” in the eyes of the Philistines.
In a sense, it’s probably more like the Philistines are the evil “Empire”, while the Israelis are the rebel fighting for their territory.

:5 called together to Saul at Gilgal

Play Gilgal map video.

We’ve seen that Gilgal has become a sort of gathering place for the nation, a place where Samuel would give guidance and blessing to Saul and the nation:

(1 Sa 10:8 NKJV) You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do.”
Saul had been given specific instructions to wait for Samuel at Gilgal, and that Samuel would tell him what to do.

:5 Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven.

:5 thirty thousand chariots

The Philistines gather a HUGE army.

Perhaps they have been aware of how Saul had gathered an army of 330,000 to fight the Ammonites. They don’t want to take chances.

For this day and time, these are “advanced weapon systems”.

Israel does not have any chariots or horsemen.
Keep in mind, Israel no longer has 330,000 gathered, but instead Saul only had 3,000 men with him.

:5 people as the sand

Josephus records that it was 300,000 men.

:5 they came up and encamped

(See map) The initial battle with Jonathan took place at Geba.

Now it seems that the Philistines are responding with “shock and awe”, an overwhelming force to deal with this rebellion.

The Philistines move a huge army up into the hills while Israel is gathering down in Gilgal.

:6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits.

:6 then the people hid

Instead of the nation gathering together as they did against the Ammonites, just the opposite happens. The people scatter and Saul will go from having an army of three thousand to an army of only six hundred.

Illustration

As the Lone Ranger and Tonto were riding along towards the north, they spotted a war party of about 50 Apaches coming at them. They turned south, but another war party appeared. They turned east and met another party of 100 braves. They turned west as their last remaining hope and saw a party of 500. The Lone Ranger turned to his friend and said, “Well, faithful friend, this is the end, there’s not much we can do.” Tonto looked back at the Lone Ranger. “What you mean WE, white man?”

:7 And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

:7 Gad and Gilead

(see map) As the Philistine army closes in, the people that have gathered in Gilgal keep going until they cross the Jordan.

:8 Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

:9 So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering.

Whether Saul is literally performing the sacrifice himself, or having a Levitical priest do the sacrifice, the point is that he should have waited for Samuel.

:10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.

:11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash,

:12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.”

:11 you did not come

Lesson

Excuses

Sometimes we think getting through life is all about having the best excuses for the things we do wrong:
Illustration

As the needle jumped up to 80 mph, he suddenly saw flashing red and blue lights behind him. “There’s no way they can catch a Porsche,” he thought to himself and opened her up further. The needle hit 90, 100.... Then the reality of the situation hit him. “What am I doing?” he thought and pulled over. The cop came up to him, took his license without a word and examined it and the car. “It’s been a long day, this is the end of my shift and it’s Friday the 13th. I don’t feel like more paperwork, so if you can give me an excuse for your driving that I haven’t heard before, you can go.” The guy thinks for a second and says, “Last week my wife ran off with a cop. I was afraid you were trying to give her back!” “Have a nice weekend,” said the officer...

Sometimes our excuses are just wrong.
Illustration

After the accident, the man told the police officer he thought the driver of the other vehicle was drunk. The officer responded that the other vehicle was a cow.

We’re going to see that this is typical of Saul – he’s quick to give excuses.
Saul’s implication is that the guilt belonged to everyone else except himself.
The people were scattering – it’s their fault.
You did not come – Samuel, it’s your fault.
The Philistines will now come – it’s the Philistine’s fault.
Are these things true?
Yes they are. They are all true.
But ultimately, Saul is the one who gave the order to perform the sacrifice and he is the one who is responsible for things being done improperly.
He had all his reasons lined up, but he avoided the truth that he had made an unwise choice.
Maturity as a Christian doesn’t come with learning better excuses.
Maturity comes as we learn to stop making excuses.
(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

Speaking the truth.

Sometimes we will say, “I was wrong … but …” and still give an excuse.

We need to learn to say, “I was wrong”.  No “buts”.

:13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.

:14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

:15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men.

:14 a man after His own heart

God would be looking for someone who is concerned about what is on God’s heart.

This will be David.

How can you tell if someone is concerned about what is on God’s heart?

Obedience
Paul talks about the transition from Saul to David:
(Ac 13:22 NKJV) And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

Jesus said,

(Jn 14:15 NKJV) “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

Saul is going to be known for the times that he disobeyed God.

He disobeys God here at Gilgal.
He will disobey God when it comes to dealing with the Amalekites (1Sam. 15)
He will disobey God in seeking counsel from a medium (1Sam. 28)

13:16-23 Army without weapons

:16 Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

:17 Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned onto the road to Ophrah, to the land of Shual,

:18 another company turned to the road to Beth Horon, and another company turned to the road of the border that overlooks the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

:17 Ophrah … Shual … Beth Horon … Zeboim

See map.  Ophrah – north of Michmash, not the same as Gideon’s home town.

Shual – Just north of Michmash

Beth Horon – to the west of Geba

Valley of Zeboim – north of Gilgal

It looks like the Philistines are trying to wipe out Israel.  They’re attacking everywhere in the hills.

:19 Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.”

:20 But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle;

:21 and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads.

:19 Lest the Hebrews make swords

This was the Philistine way of controlling the arms race.  Gun control.

They didn’t allow the Israelites to have any sharp pieces of iron.

:22 So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.

:23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

:22 neither sword nor spear

Not only has Saul’s army dwindled down from 3,000 to 600, those that are left are very poorly armed.

They look like a bunch of farmers with pitchforks.

Lesson

The upper hand

Too often our eyes are on the wrong things when it comes to facing our battles.
We think in terms of the size of an army, or the kinds of weapons it deploys.
The real issue is, who is on the side of God?
(Dt 20:1 NKJV) “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
(Ps 20:7 NKJV) Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
(Ps 33:16–17 NKJV) —16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.
(Ro 8:31 NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Are you facing a battle?
Stop and think about where you are with God.
All that matters is that you are on God’s side.

14:1-23 Jonathan’s victory

:1 Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

:2 And Saul was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men.

:3 Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

:3 Ahijah

Ahijah was the high priest at the time. He was a great-grandson of Eli.

:3 Ichabod’s brother

An interesting note, mentioning the child that was born on the day that Israel was defeated by the Philistines, lost the Ark, and Eli died.  He apparently had an older brother named Ahitub.

:3 wearing an ephod

He had the ability to inquire of the Lord, to ask questions of God.

:4 Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.

:5 The front of one faced northward opposite Michmash, and the other southward opposite Gibeah.

:4 BozezBowtsets – “surpassing white: glistening”

:4  SenehCeneh – “thorny”

Play Bozez Seneh map clip.

These are the names of two cliffs that face each other.

To get to the Philistines, Jonathan and his armor bearer will have to go down one cliff and climb the other.

:6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

:7 So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”

:6 saving by many or by few

Lesson

The heart of faith

Jonathan is a great example of what faith is all about.
To Jonathan, all that matters is that he’s fighting with God on his side.
We think that “bigger” is “better”.
Not always.
Gideon learned that he only needed an army of 300 to face 135,000, if God was on his side.
The more important issue is, “Am I following God’s lead?”

:7 Do all that is in your heart

Lesson

Support or run?

I wonder what happened to the other 2,400 men who had been following Saul earlier? How come there’s only six hundred left?
When the chips were down, people had left.
Not only was Jonathan brave, but his armor bearer was too.
I’d like to not only be like the six hundred that stayed with Saul, but I’d like to be like Jonathan’s armor-bearer, who was willing to be the only guy to support what God was doing.
We can’t all be Jonathans.  Sometimes we just need to be the guy who supports Jonathan.
When Moses sent Joshua out to fight with the Amalekites, he realized as he was watching from the hill that as long as he (Moses) had his arms raised in prayer, that Joshua was able to prevail.
But Moses’ arms got tired.

Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses to hold up his arms.

A successful work of God requires Joshuas leading in battle, soldiers fighting, Moses praying, and people to support Moses.
There’s a place for all of us.

:8 Then Jonathan said, “Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them.

:9 If they say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them.

:10 But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us.”

:9 If they say

This is how they are going to determine what God wants them to do.

They are concerned that they are doing what God wants.

Lesson

Is this God?

They lay out a “fleece”. Jonathan wants to make sure that this is really a “God-thing” and not just his own crazy idea.
The idea is this: If the Philistine guards ask them to come up to their side, then they’ll take it that this is exactly what they should do and they’ll go up and fight. If the Philistines tell them to stay put, then they’ll run.
Don’t just be a person who likes to live life dangerously for the sake of living dangerously. Be sure God is speaking.
If God is leading you, then wherever you are is the safest place in the world. But if God is not leading you, you’re in trouble!

:11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.”

:12 Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has delivered them into the hand of Israel.”

:12 Come up after me

Jonathan knows now that God has been leading them.  And he gets moving.

Lesson

Take a step

It only takes one person who will step forward instead of backward.
Illustration
Napoleon often referred to Marshall Ney as the bravest man he had ever known. Yet Ney’s knees trembled so badly one morning before a battle that he had trouble mounting his horse. When he was finally in the saddle he shouted contemptuously, “Shake away, knees, you would shake worse than that if you knew where I am going to take you.”

:13 And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them.

They had to scale the cliffs, but when they get to the top, they start killing Philistines.

Jonathan knocks them down, the armorbearer finishes them off.

:14 That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within about half an acre of land.

:14 half an acre of land

They cover about ½ the length of a football field and have killed twenty men.

:15 And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.

Not only are the Philistines shocked to see so many of their comrades fall, but God pitches in and causes an earthquake, causing a panic among the Philistines.

:16 Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there.

:17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there.

Saul wants to know who is out there fighting the Philistines.

:18 And Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here” (for at that time the ark of God was with the children of Israel).

:18 the ark of God

Even though the more permanent location of the Ark was at Kiriath Jeaream (1Sam. 7:1), it has apparently been with the army for this battle.

:19 Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

:19 Withdraw your hand

The priest is using his “ephod” to somehow figure out what God wants them to do.

But as Saul sees how things are going across the way with the Philistines, he is afraid that if he doesn’t get his troops on the move, they are going to miss their opportunity.

Lesson

There’s a time to move

Saul is certainly going to make some mistakes on this day, but I’m not sure this is one of them.
There are times when God is working that we need to get busy as well.
When Moses and the people were pinned against the Red Sea, and Pharoah’s chariots were closing in, God said to Moses,

(Ex 14:15 NLT) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!

Don’t get me wrong – praying is good.  But sometimes we are praying when God wants us to be moving.
Learning to follow the Lord is walking that fine line between waiting and moving.
Saul got into trouble because he didn’t wait for Samuel.
Saul did the right thing by not waiting and getting into the battle.

:20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the battle; and indeed every man’s sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion.

The Philistines are so confused they’re even fighting each other.

:21 Moreover the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before that time, who went up with them into the camp from the surrounding country, they also joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.

Apparently some of the Israelites had been living in the camp of the Philistines, either pretending to be Philistines, or trying to be nice to the Philistines. When the battle heats up, they join in the battle with Saul and Jonathan.

:22 Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle.

All the people that had been hiding in caves came out to fight.

Josephus records (Antiquities of the Jews, 6:6:116) that by this time, Saul’s army had grown from 600 men to 10,000.

:23 So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven.

:23 Beth Aven

See map. Two miles northwest of Michmash

14:24-46 Saul’s Problem Oath

:24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.

:24 none of the people tasted food

Lesson

Stupid ideas

Sometimes us guys come up with some pretty stupid ideas. (Stupid guy pics)
Saul makes the people promise not to stop and eat anything until evening.
Fasting can be a good thing when you’re seeking the Lord, but it’s not a good idea if you’re going to expect your warriors to keep up their strength.
Josephus gives us some interesting insight (Antiquities of the Jews, 6:6:116-117),
“whether out of ignorance, or whether out of joy for a victory gained so strangely (for it frequently happens that persons so fortunate are not then able to use their reason consistently), as he was desirous to avenge himself, and to exact a due punishment of the Philistines, he denounced a curse upon the Hebrews”
Saul has done some brilliant things as king.  This is NOT one of them.

:25 Now all the people of the land came to a forest; and there was honey on the ground.

There were bee hives in the forest, the hives were dripping with honey.

:26 And when the people had come into the woods, there was the honey, dripping; but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath.

:27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened.

:27 his countenance brightened

PlaySnickers Commercial”.

Jonathan gets an energy boost from the honey.  It was the smart thing to do.  Do you want the entire Israeli army fighting like Betty White or Abe Vigoda?

:28 Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats food this day.’ ” And the people were faint.

:29 But Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Look now, how my countenance has brightened because I tasted a little of this honey.

Jonathan realizes that his father has made a bad choice. Jonathan seems to not just be a man of faith, but also of common sense.

:30 How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now would there not have been a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?”

:31 Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint.

:31 Michmash to Aijalon

See map.  Fifteen miles from Michmash to Aijalon.  It’s the last stop out of the hills.

Josephus records (Antiquities of the Jews, 6:6:120) that they had killed “many tens of thousands of Philistines”

:32 And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood.

:32 ate them with the blood

It’s now evening, and the people can now take time to eat.

The Philistine army would have lots of animals with them because that’s their provisions. As the Israelites are wiping out the Philistines, there are lots of animals around as “spoil”.

God had strictly prohibited His people to eat meat with the blood in it. (Lev. 17:11)

(Le 17:11 NKJV) —11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
The blood was to be something special, something to remind the Jew of the life that was in the animal. Because of that, whenever a Jew was to slaughter an animal, the blood had to be drained first. It’s a much more time-consuming way of slaughtering animals.

:33 Then they told Saul, saying, “Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood!” So he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone to me this day.”

It’s interesting to note that the people were concerned about not disobeying Saul’s command to not eat until evening, but they didn’t have any scruples about disobeying God’s command of not eating meat with the blood.

:33 a great stone – make a place for the proper slaughtering of animals.

:34 Then Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people, and say to them, ‘Bring me here every man’s ox and every man’s sheep, slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’ ” So every one of the people brought his ox with him that night, and slaughtered it there.

:35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord. This was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

Not sure if this is a good thing or not.  He doesn’t receive an open rebuke for it.  He does stop the eating of blood.  Maybe okay.

:36 Now Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and plunder them until the morning light; and let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.”

:37 So Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him that day.

:37 He did not answer him

Saul wants to know if they should continue their battle with the Philistines and so he asks God, but God doesn’t answer.

There’s a communication problem.  The phone lines are down.  There’s no cell reception.

It could be because of sin.  It could just be because of Saul’s stupid oath, and God wants the army to stop.

Lesson

When God is silent

Saul thinks that the reason God is silent is because there is some sin.
This can be true some times.

(Ps 66:18 NKJV) If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.

(Is 59:1–2 NKJV) —1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Is this the case here?
I think God definitely wants to bring out this problem with Saul’s “curse”. God will allow Jonathan to be picked out and Saul will find out that Jonathan had eaten some honey.

But I have a hard time thinking that Jonathan is in the wrong here. The real problem is not that Jonathan had eaten honey, the real problem was that Saul made a stupid oath.

I wonder if God isn’t just trying to get Saul to slow down.

:38 And Saul said, “Come over here, all you chiefs of the people, and know and see what this sin was today.

:39 For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not a man among all the people answered him.

:40 Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”

:41 Therefore Saul said to the Lord God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot.” So Saul and Jonathan were taken, but the people escaped.

:42 And Saul said, “Cast lots between my son Jonathan and me.” So Jonathan was taken.

:43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, and said, “I only tasted a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand. So now I must die!”

Jonathan is willing to submit to his father’s wishes. He’s willing to die for eating some honey.  Amazing.

:44 Saul answered, “God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan.”

Saul intends to have his son put to death.

:45 But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.

:45 worked with God

The people realized what had happened that day. They realized that God had been at work. And they realized that Jonathan had been working hand-in-hand with God.

Lesson

Working with God

God wants to work with us.
(Php 2:13 NKJV) —13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

:45 rescuedpadah – to ransom, redeem, rescue, deliver

I wonder if this is after the law in Lev. 27, where you can buy a person out of a vow?

Lesson

Rescue people from foolishness

Jephthah too had made a foolish vow. He promised to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house if God would give him victory. And he apparently sacrificed his daughter to keep his vow.
I don’t think God wants us to keep foolish promises. I think sometimes we need to open our eyes to some of the silly things we do.

:46 Then Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.

14:47-53 Saul’s Wars

:47 So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the people of Ammon, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he harassed them.

:47 fought against all his enemies

This victory over the Philistines then seemed to turn the tide for Israel. Though they had a great victory over Nahash the Ammonite, it was this victory over the Philistines that put the world on notice that they couldn’t hassle Israel.

And the victory came because one man said, “I wonder what God can do?”

:48 And he gathered an army and attacked the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.

:49 The sons of Saul were Jonathan, Jishui, and Malchishua. And the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal.

:50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.

:51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

:52 Now there was fierce war with the Philistines all the days of Saul. And when Saul saw any strong man or any valiant man, he took him for himself.

:52 any strong man

Josephus records (Antiquities of the Jews, 6:6:130):

“he made such of the young men as were remarkable for tallness and comeliness the guards of his body.”
He picked tall, handsome men, like himself.