Chapter 13 – Saul was 30 years old when he became king and he reigned over Israel for 42 years. We read about a battle today where his son, Jonathan led the way, he attached the Philistines in Geba … won the battle … but GUESS WHO TOOK CREDIT FOR IT… You go it… is Dad, Saul!!! Although this was normal in that culture it is a sign of Saul’s growing pride in his life. (NOT a good thing!!)
The Philistines return with a vengeance and the Israelites hid in the caves…some even crossed the Jordan. Saul and the Israelites had forgotten WHO their real leader was!! They forgot that God was on their side and that HE would NOT be defeated.
Saul remained at Gilgal and he waited seven days for Samuel to arrive. Saul’s men were “quaking with fear” and some of them began to scatter. WHAT does SAUL do??? He became impatient with God’s timing (NOT smart), and made a burnt offering and fellowship offering (EVEN less smart). Just as he finished Samuel arrived. Samuel asked him: “WHAT have you done?” An offering without a priest was BIG NO NO!! This was totally against God’s law (see Deuteronomy 12:5-14) and it was against Samuel’s specific instructions (1 Samuel 10:8.) Under pressure, Saul took matters into his own hands!! (I’M SURE NONE of US have ever become impatient with God’s timing…. ahemmmmm……….i have (no caps because I’m whispering.)
Look at Samuel’s response to Saul’s excuses: “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him leader of HIS people because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”
Saul doesn’t really respond. However, because of his impatience and trying to justify and spiritualize his actions (excuses…excuses… and more excuses) he lost his kingship (13:14.)
Saul looked the part of a king…tall…handsome…said the right things in the beginning at the right time….but God KNEW Saul’s heart from the beginning. He allowed Saul to come into office. God anointed him, but Saul’s true nature … bit by bit is coming out. As my Mom and Dad used to say: “You cannot tell a book by its cover so don’t make decisions based on looks.” SOOOO TRUE!!
Saul and Jonathan are the ONLY ones in the Israelite military who had sharpened swords to defend themselves. At this time, the Philistines were the technical experts when it came to military and gardening implements. The made theirs with iron. They also were the ONLY ones who could sharpen the implements so they charged a steep price….if they would do it during a time of war.
Chapter 14 – Jonathan, son of Saul, (Oh how I love Jonathan’s character!!) went out with his armor bearer to check out the Philistine’s outpost on the other side, but he did not tell Saul. We are seeing a sign here of Saul’s poor leadership:
- Here we see he was not even communicating with his own son!!
- In 14:24 we will see he made a foolish curse, and
- in 14:31 he ignored the well being of his own soldiers!!
- His poor leadership is all about the decay of his SPIRITUAL CHARACTER.
Jonathan and his armor bearer were NO FORCE for the Philistines. Yet this shows Jonathan’s FAITH in God. “NO THING can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” I also love the armor bearer’s response to Jonathan: “Go ahead, I am with you heart and soul.” Jonathan guided (a good leader) his armor bearer (a servant with integrity) in what to do next. Jonathan and his armor bearer took one small step in this battle that lead to panic among the Philistines; it lead to the Hebrews who had been drafted into the Philistine army revolting; and it left the Philistines in TOTAL confusion!!! “So the Lord rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.” YEAH GOD!!! GO Jonathan!!
In verse 19 it states: “Saul said to the priest withdraw your hand.” Saul was telling the priest to use the Urim and Thummin (the priests carried these two stones in their ephod pocket and used them when an answer was needed from God.) Unfortunately, the priests did not volunteer to do this, they did what they were asked. Saul was trying to speed up the formalities of getting an answer from God so he could hurry and get into battle to take advantage of the Philistines. Once again we see Saul’s impatience.
Then Saul makes an oath without thinking through to the possible consequences. He is thinking if he doesn’t allow his men to eat then they will get faster results. However, his men were too tired to fight and had no way of replenishing their energy; they were so hungry that they ate meat with the blood in it; and Saul almost killed Jonathan because of his own pride (and stupidity.) We can learn from Saul not to make impulsive statements that we may be forced to honor.
Jonathan had not heard about his father’s oath and ate honey. He was told by one of the soldiers what his father had said and Jonathan responds: “My father has made trouble for the country.” GREAT INSIGHT!!
Not eating meat with blood in it has been a law since Noah (Genesis 9:4). God repeated plainly again in Leviticus 7:26. However, Saul’s men had tried do as they were told, but were exhausted, hungry, and could go no more!! They were in a catch 22 situation. The blood in the meat was the symbol of LIFE!! It was sacred!! They had seen the blood of an innocent lamb placed over their doors so their firstborn males would not be killed in the Passover. WE KNOW Jesus Christ was the final sacrifice… innocent blood shed for us. They did eat the meat with the blood … maybe they could have prayed about what to do. Yet… how many times does God have to tell us things before we get them correct???? THANK GOD WE SERVE A GOD OF SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, AND FIFTH & more CHANCES!! I KNOW I have certainly heard God REMIND me of the right things. However, usually when we respond in humility and obedience the first time our lives tend to go a little smoother.
In verse 35 we see that Saul built an altar to the Lord for the FIRST time. We met Saul in Chapter 9 and this is his FIRST time in making an altar to the Lord. We will see throughout our reading with Saul that he consistently went to God as an afterthought. After the priest suggests that Saul ask God .. he did ask HIM about going to war. BUT GOD DID NOT ANSWER!!! He of course blames it on someone else’s sin and almost kills Jonathan!! Didn’t you LOVE the way the men stood up for Jonathan??? I mean they were risking their own lives to save Jonathan’s!! Also, Jonathan did not offer excuses, he did not deny his actions, he told his father what he had done and asked if he must die because of it!!!
God had already told Saul that his time as king was short. However, he did go on to defeat the Moabites and the Ammonites (descendants of LOT), Edom (descendants of Esau), the Philistines (descendants of Noah’s son Ham who was cursed), and the Amalekites who were a band of guerrilla terrorists who were also descendants of Esau. In several commentaries I have read they all say that it appeared God allowed Saul’s huge military defeats so David could then deal more with the spiritual corruption in his nation.
In case you are wondering about a few of the meanings behind the names…. here we go…
- Saul means “desired”
- Jonathan means “Jehovah has given”
- Ishvi (Ishui in KJV) means “he resembles me”
- Malki-Shua (Melchishua in KJV) means “my king is wealth”
- Merab (Saul’s oldest daughter, Jonathan’s sister) means “increase”
- Michal (Saul’s youngest daughter, Jonathan’s sister, will become wife of David) means “who is like God”
- Ahinoam (Saul’s wife) means “my brother is delight”
- Ahimaaz (Ahinoam’s father, Saul’s father-in-law) means “my brother is anger/wrath”
- Abner (captain of Saul’s men, son of Ner, and Saul’s cousin) means “my father is a lamp”
- Abiel (father of Kish and Ner, Saul’s grandfather) means “El (God) is (my) father”
- Ner (Kish’s brother, Saul’s uncle) means “lamp”
- Kish (father of Saul, Ner’s brother) means “bent”
Tomorrow David enters into the picture.
Sharing HIS love,