As we are blogging through the Bible, Tammy has just finished her 11th & 12th chapters of Samuel, and Angela, the 9th and 10th before her. I am moving forward to help take a closer look at Chapter 13 and 14.
At this point, Saul has reigned for two years and chooses 3,000 Israelites. 2,000 go with him to Michmash, and the remaining 1,000 go with Jonathan, Saul’s son, to Gibeah. There, Jonathan kills a garrison of Philistines who were in Geba, and everyone quickly found out about it.
Especially the Philistines!
The Philistines decided they would come together against Israel, Saul, and his men, to the tune of 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, the Bible says. Along with people who were, as the 5th verse of Chapter 13 declares, “as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude.”
Everyone saw that they were sorely outnumbered, and began to hide in caves, thickets, pits, rocks, and any high place they could find. Saul hung out in Gilgal, waiting for Samuel to return. That didn’t happen though.
So Saul decided to demand burnt offerings, which he offered, and after that, Samuel came, but he wasn’t happy. In fact, he asked Saul, “What did you do?” Once Saul explained that the people were all hiding, the Philistines were getting ready to wipe them out, and he had been waiting on him to arrive, Samuel condemned him.
The Lord would have established him over all of Israel, but this, Samuel declared, would be the end of it. The Bible says God was looking, longing even, for a man after his own heart. A man that would truly be a captain over the people. That obviously wasn’t Saul!
What Happens Next in the Bible?
After Samuel had spoken to Saul, he left and went to Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul and Jonathan gathered roughly six hundred men, which accounted for all those still with him. But the Philistines were coming out, assembled, as well.
One Philistine company came out and went to Ophrah, a second went to Bethhoron, and a third took the border that overlooked the valley of Zeboim.
To make matters even worse, there were no “smiths” in the entire land of Israel. That meant if the Israelites wanted swords or spears sharpened, they must rely on the Philistines, who were skilled in ironwork.
This day, no one in Israel, except for Saul and Jonathan, had any spears or swords. All they had were the mattocks, coulters, forks, and axes that they were able to sharpen with their files.
The Bible was clear. It was a bad place to be, as the Philistines began to come out against the Michmash passage!
There is so much strife in this chapter! It starts out with Jonathan slipping away with his armorbearer and killing more than 20 Philistines after climbing through a passage between two rocks. After this, the people trembled and feared and there was a great earthquake.
Saul watched as the Philistines began running away, practically running one another over. He realized then that someone from their ranks had left them and done this thing. He ordered a search of their more than 600 men to see who was missing. They found out it was only Jonathan and his armorbearer. Saul took action.
He called for the Ark of God and went on to battle the Philistines. Now that the Hebrews and Israelites were beginning to see that the Philistines were running, they came out in abundance. Even those that had been hiding anywhere they could. They followed hard after their enemy and the Lord saved them!
However, they were terribly distressed. Saul decided to order that no one would be allowed to eat until he had gotten his vengeance on these Philistines. Unfortunately, Jonathan was not with them when this was required.
Jonathan and the Honey
As they journeyed on, they came into a clearing where there was an abundance of honey on the ground. It looked good, but no one allowed themselves to partake because they were scared of what Saul would do.
Jonathan, on the other hand, dipped his rod in the honey at ate it, after which his eyes were enlightened. Someone immediately told him what Saul had commanded, but Jonathan said his father had made it to hard on them. He put forth the question that if his own eyes had been enlightened, how much more victory would they see if Saul allowed his people to eat and strengthen themselves?
Once they had killed all the Philistines from Michmash to Aijalon, the people were near passing out from hunger. They descended on the place, taking sheep, oxen, and calves, killing them and eating them “with the blood”, says the 32nd verse of Chapter 14 in the Bible. Now THAT is a rare steak!
Saul’s Next Decision
When Saul found out that his people were sinning by eating meat with blood, he was not happy. However, he had to do something to keep the people from sinning further!
He sent out messengers to tell the soldiers to bring their animals to him, and they could cook and eat, and stop sinning. Then he built an altar and then decided they were going to take the Philistines again, those that were left, during the night. He began to offer sacrifices to God and asked the priest to ask God if He would give him a victory that night.
God was silent.
The only thing left to do, with Samuel gone, the Philistines in retreat, and all many of his company having recently sinned greatly against God, was to cast lots to see where the sin was. He declared that even if the lot fell to his own son, Jonathan, then Jonathan would have to die. And that’s exactly where the lot fell.
The Bible says Jonathan was spared
However, instead of Saul putting Jonathan to death, the multitudes of people saved him. They reminded Saul that it was Jonathan that brought salvation to Israel and demanded that no one harm a hair of his head. They rescued him and saved him from this particular fate.
It doesn’t say precisely, but it’s almost like Saul went a little crazy after that. He went on and let them rescue Jonathan (but then again, wouldn’t we??), but then he fought every enemy on every side. He took on the Moabites and the Ammonites. His soldiers joined him in fighting Edom and all the kings of Zobah. He didn’t forget, either, that he was still fighting the Philistines, and killed them wherever he found them.
He even killed the Amalekites, delivering Israel from yet another group of people that had spoiled them time and again.
As it turned out, Saul was, for the rest of his life, at war with the Philistines. There was so much war, and it was such a constant way of life, that every time Saul found a man who was strong and valiant, he made him a soldier in his army. He wasn’t leaving anything to chance!
This text from the Bible reveals some of Saul’s genealogies in the latter part of this 14th chapter:
- Saul’s sons: Jonathan, Ishui, and Melchishua
- The daughters of Saul: Merab, the firstborn, and Michal, the youngest (This Michal was eventually to wed the Shepherd boy, David, who served Saul and eventually became King)
- Saul’s wife: Ahinoam (she was the daughter of Ahimaaz)
- The Captain of Saul’s Host: Abner (son of Ner, Saul’s uncle)
- Saul’s father: Kish
It’s stories like these that we often forget about. There are consequences to disobeying the voice of the Lord. While we are not still under the Old Testament Law, and all the grief that it brought, we are still to be obedient to the Lord!
Tammy and Angela will be blogging on the next Chapters of 1 Samuel, still to come. I will be updating this space at that time to reflect the next Bible Devotionals from this point
Lord, I pray that you help keep our eyes and ears open to what you would have us to do. Even when it seems like the “right thing” is staring us in the face! Let us ever be mindful to turn to You, to seek Your Face and Counsel, and always be listening for Your Voice!
Please feel free to comment, and especially to share across social media outlets. The Word of the Lord endures forever and never returns void. But to do so, it must be put out there in the first place. God bless you for sharing, and for reading along to this point.