1 Samuel 13

Samuel Rebukes Saul

1 Saul was thirty[a] years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-[b] two years.
2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.
3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!”
4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand[c] chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven.
6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.
7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.
8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.
9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.
10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash,
12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” 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.
14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”
15 Then Samuel left Gilgal[d] and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.

Israel Without Weapons

16 Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah[e] in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Mikmash.
17 Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual,
18 another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboyim facing the wilderness.
19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!”
20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles[f] sharpened.
21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel[g] for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel[h] for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.
22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
23 Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Mikmash.

1 Samuel 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

The invasion of the Philistines. (1-7) Saul sacrifices, He is reproved by Samuel. (8-14) The policy of the Philistines. (15-23)

Verses 1-7 Saul reigned one year, and nothing particular happened; but in his second year the events recorded in this chapter took place. For above a year he gave the Philistine time to prepare for war, and to weaken and to disarm the Israelites. When men are lifted up in self-sufficiency, they are often led into folly. The chief advantages of the enemies of the church are derived from the misconduct of its professed friends. When Saul at length sounded an alarm, the people, dissatisfied with his management, or terrified by the power of the enemy, did not come to him, or speedily deserted him.

Verses 8-14 Saul broke the order expressly given by Samuel, see ch. ( 1 Samuel. 10:8 ) Saul offered sacrifice without Samuel, and did it himself, though he was neither priest nor prophet. When charged with disobedience, he justified himself in what he had done, and gave no sign of repentance for it. He would have this act of disobedience pass for an instance of his prudence, and as a proof of his piety. Men destitute of inward piety, often lay great stress on the outward performances of religion. Samuel charges Saul with being an enemy to himself. Those that disobey the commandments of God, do foolishly for themselves. Sin is folly, and the greatest sinners are the greatest fools. Our disposition to obey or disobey God, will often be proved by our behaviour in things which appear small. Men see nothing but Saul's outward act, which seems small; but God saw that he did this with unbelief and distrust of his providence, with contempt of his authority and justice, and with rebellion against the light of his own conscience. Blessed Saviour, may we never, like Saul, bring our poor offerings, or fancied peace-offerings, without looking to thy precious, thy all-sufficient sacrifice! Thou only, O Lord, canst make, or hast made, our peace in the blood of the cross.

Verses 15-23 See how politic the Philistines were when they had power; they not only prevented the people of Israel from making weapons of war, but obliged them to depend upon their enemies, even for instruments of husbandry. How impolitic Saul was, who did not, in the beginning of his reign, set himself to redress this. Want of true sense always accompanies want of grace. Sins which appear to us very little, have dangerous consequences. Miserable is a guilty, defenceless nation; much more those who are destitute of the whole armour of God.

Cross References 43

  • 1. ver 15
  • 2. ver 5,11,23; Nehemiah 11:31; Isaiah 10:28
  • 3. S Judges 19:14; 1 Samuel 10:26
  • 4. S 1 Samuel 10:5
  • 5. S Joshua 18:24
  • 6. S Leviticus 25:9; S Judges 3:27
  • 7. S Genesis 34:30
  • 8. 1 Samuel 17:1
  • 9. S Joshua 11:4; Revelation 20:8
  • 10. S ver 2
  • 11. S Joshua 7:2
  • 12. 1 Samuel 14:11,22
  • 13. S Judges 6:2; Ezekiel 33:27
  • 14. S Numbers 32:33
  • 15. S Genesis 35:5; S Exodus 19:16
  • 16. 1 Samuel 10:8
  • 17. Deuteronomy 12:5-14; 2 Samuel 24:25; 1 Kings 3:4
  • 18. 1 Samuel 15:13
  • 19. 1 Samuel 25:14
  • 20. S ver 2; ver 2,5,16,23
  • 21. S Joshua 10:43
  • 22. S Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalms 119:58; Jeremiah 26:19
  • 23. 2 Chronicles 16:9
  • 24. ver 14; S Joshua 22:16; 1 Samuel 15:23,24; 2 Samuel 7:15; 1 Chronicles 10:13
  • 25. Psalms 72:5
  • 26. 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 18:8; 1 Samuel 24:20; 1 Chronicles 10:14
  • 27. Acts 7:46; Acts 13:22
  • 28. 2 Samuel 6:21
  • 29. 1 Samuel 25:30; 2 Samuel 5:2; Psalms 18:43; Isaiah 16:5; Isaiah 55:4; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24; Daniel 9:25; Hosea 3:5; Micah 5:2
  • 30. 1 Samuel 15:26; 1 Samuel 16:1; 2 Samuel 12:9; 1 Kings 13:21; Hosea 13:11
  • 31. 1 Samuel 14:2
  • 32. ver 2
  • 33. S Joshua 18:24
  • 34. 1 Samuel 14:15
  • 35. S Joshua 18:23
  • 36. S Joshua 10:10; Joshua 18:13-14
  • 37. Nehemiah 11:34
  • 38. S Genesis 4:22; 2 Kings 24:14; Jeremiah 24:1
  • 39. S Numbers 25:7
  • 40. 1 Chronicles 9:39
  • 41. S Numbers 25:7; 1 Samuel 14:6; 1 Samuel 17:47; Zechariah 4:6; Judges 5:8
  • 42. 1 Samuel 14:4
  • 43. S ver 2

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. A few late manuscripts of the Septuagint; Hebrew does not have "thirty."
  • [b]. Probable reading of the original Hebrew text (see Acts 13:21); Masoretic Text does not have "forty-" .
  • [c]. Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac; Hebrew "thirty thousand"
  • [d]. Hebrew; Septuagint "Gilgal and went his way; the rest of the people went after Saul to meet the army, and they went out of Gilgal"
  • [e]. Two Hebrew manuscripts; most Hebrew manuscripts "Geba," a variant of "Gibeah"
  • [f]. Septuagint; Hebrew "plow points"
  • [g]. That is, about 1/4 ounce or about 8 grams
  • [h]. That is, about 1/8 ounce or about 4 grams

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates how Saul disposed of his army, 1Sa 13:1,2 that Jonathan his son smote a garrison of Philistines, which provoked them to come out with a large army against them, to the great terror of the Israelites, many of whom fled to secret places, and to distant parts, 1Sa 13:3-7, that Saul tarried at Gilgal waiting for Samuel, but he not coming so soon as expected, offered sacrifice himself, 1Sa 13:8-10 for which Samuel, when he came, reproved him, and told him the kingdom should not continue with him, but be given to another man, 1Sa 13:11-14 on which Saul departed to Gibeah, where he continued, the Philistines being encamped at Michmash, 1Sa 13:15,16 from whence went out spoilers, in three companies, into the land of Israel, where they met with no opposition; for there were no weapons in the hands of any but Saul and Jonathan, the Philistines having taken care that there should be no smith in the land of Israel to make them any, so that they were defenceless, 1Sa 13:17-23.

1 Samuel 13 Commentaries