1 Samuel 14

1 Now it fell on a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side.” But he didn’t tell his father. 2 Saul stayed in the uttermost part of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people who were with him were about six hundred men; 3 including Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the LORD in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. The people didn’t know that Jonathan was gone. 4 Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side, and a rocky crag on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose up on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba. 6 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 there is no restraint on the LORD to save by many or by few.” 7 His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Turn and, behold, I am with you according to your heart.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will pass over to the men, and we will reveal 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 will not go up to them. 10 But if they say this, ‘Come up to us!’ then we will go up; for the LORD has delivered them into our hand. This shall be the sign to us.” 11 Both of them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, “Behold, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they had hidden themselves!” 12 The men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armor bearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something!” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me; for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Jonathan climbed up on his hands and on his feet, and his armor bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armor bearer killed them after him. 14 That first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor bearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land. 15 There was a trembling in the camp, in the field, and amongst all the people; the garrison, and the raiders, also trembled; and the earth quaked, so there was an exceedingly great trembling. 16 The watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and behold, the multitude melted away and scattered. 17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count now, and see who is missing from us.” When they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. 18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring God’s ark here.” For God’s ark was with the children of Israel at that time. 19 While Saul talked to the priest, the tumult that was in the camp of the Philistines went on and increased; and Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand!” 20 Saul and all the people who were with him were gathered together, and came to the battle; and behold, they were all striking each other with their swords in very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before, and who went up with them into the camp, from all around, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of 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 by Beth Aven. 24 The men of Israel were distressed that day; for Saul had adjured the people, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until it is evening, and I am avenged of my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food. 25 All the people came into the forest; and there was honey on the ground. 26 When the people had come to the forest, behold, honey was dripping, but no one put his hand to his mouth; for the people feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan didn’t hear when his father commanded the people with the oath. Therefore he put out the end of the rod who was in his hand, and dipped it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. 28 Then one of the people answered, and said, “Your father directly commanded the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats food today.’” The people were faint. 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Please look how my eyes have brightened, because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much more, if perhaps the people had eaten freely today of the plunder of their enemies which they found? For now has there been no great slaughter amongst the Philistines.” 31 They struck the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. The people were very faint; 32 and the people pounced on the plunder, and took sheep, cattle, and calves, and killed them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, saying, “Behold, the people are sinning against the LORD, in that they eat meat with the blood.” He said, “You have dealt treacherously. Roll a large stone to me today!” 34 Saul said, “Disperse yourselves amongst the people, and tell them, ‘Every man bring me here his ox, and every man his sheep, and kill them here, and eat; and don’t sin against the LORD in eating meat with the blood.’” All the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and killed them there. 35 Saul built an altar to the LORD. This was the first altar that he built to the LORD. 36 Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and take plunder amongst them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them.” They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us draw near here to God.” 37 Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But he didn’t answer him that day. 38 Saul said, “Draw near here, all you chiefs of the people; and know and see in which this sin has been today. 39 For, as the LORD lives, who saves Israel, though it is in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man amongst all the people who answered him. 40 Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41 Therefore Saul said to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Show the right.” Jonathan and Saul were chosen, but the people escaped. 42 Saul said, “Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son.” Jonathan was selected. 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done!” Jonathan told him, and said, “I certainly did taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand; and behold, I must die.” 44 Saul said, “God do so and more also; for you shall surely die, Jonathan.” 45 The people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today!” So the people rescued Jonathan, that he didn’t die. 46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place. 47 Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he 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. Wherever he turned himself, he defeated them. 48 He did valiantly, and struck the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them. 49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, 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. The name of the captain 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 There was severe war against the Philistines all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any mighty man, or any valiant man, he took him into his service.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–15

Saul seems to have been quite at a loss, and unable to help himself. Those can never think themselves safe who see themselves out of God’s protection. Now he sent for a priest and the ark. He hopes to make up matters with the Almighty by a partial reformation, as many do whose hearts are unhumbled and unchanged. Many love to have ministers who prophesy smooth things to them. Jonathan felt a Divine impulse and impression, putting him upon this bold adventure. God will direct the steps of those that acknowledge him in all their ways, and seek to him for direction, with full purpose of heart to follow his guidance. Sometimes we find most comfort in that which is least our own doing, and into which we have been led by the unexpected but well-observed turns of Divine providence. There was trembling in the host. It is called a trembling of God, signifying, not only a great trembling they could not resist, nor reason themselves out of, but that it came at once from the hand of God. He that made the heart, knows how to make it tremble.

Verses 16–23

The Philistines were, by the power of God, set against one another. The more evident it was that God did all, the more reason Saul had to inquire whether God would give him leave to do any thing. But he was in such haste to fight a fallen enemy, that he would not stay to end his devotions, nor hear what answer God would give him. He that believeth, will not make such haste, nor reckon any business so urgent, as not to allow time to take God with him.

Verses 24–35

Saul’s severe order was very unwise; if it gained time, it lost strength for the pursuit. Such is the nature of our bodies, that daily work cannot be done without daily bread, which therefore our Father in heaven graciously gives. Saul was turning aside from God, and now he begins to build altars, being then most zealous, as many are, for the form of godliness when he was denying the power of it.

Verses 36–46

If God turns away our prayer, we have reason to suspect it is for some sin harboured in our hearts, which we should find out, that we may put it away, and put it to death. We should always first suspect and examine ourselves; but an unhumbled heart suspects every other person, and looks every where but at home for the sinful cause of calamity. Jonathan was discovered to be the offender. Those most indulgent to their own sins are most severe upon others; those who most disregard God’s authority, are most impatient when their own commands are slighted. Such as cast abroad curses, endanger themselves and their families. What do we observe in the whole of Saul’s behaviour on this occasion, but an impetuous, proud, malignant, impious disposition? And do we not in every instance perceive that man, left to himself, betrays the depravity of his nature, and is enslaved to the basest tempers.

Verses 47–52

Here is a general account of Saul’s court and camp. He had little reason to be proud of his royal dignity, nor had any of his neighbours cause to envy him, for he had but little enjoyment after he took the kingdom. And often men’s earthly glory makes a blaze just before the dark night of disgrace and woe comes on them.

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