1 Samuel 14

Jonathan Attacks the Philistines

1 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
2 Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men,
3 among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.
4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh.
5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us.
9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them.
10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands.”
11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.”
12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.” So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the LORD has given them into the hand of Israel.”
13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.
14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.

Israel Routs the Philistines

15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[a]
16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions.
17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.
18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.)[b]
19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”
20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords.
21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.
22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit.
23 So on that day the LORD saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.

Jonathan Eats Honey

24 Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.
25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground.
26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.[c]
28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.”
29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
31 That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted.
32 They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.
33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that has blood in it.” “You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.”
34 Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the LORD by eating meat with blood still in it.’ ” So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there.
35 Then Saul built an altar to the LORD; it was the first time he had done this.
36 Saul said, “Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.” “Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied. But the priest said, “Let us inquire of God here.”
37 So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day.
38 Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today.
39 As surely as the LORD who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of them said a word.
40 Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.” “Do what seems best to you,” they replied.
41 Then Saul prayed to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Why have you not answered your servant today? If the fault is in me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim, but if the men of Israel are at fault,[d] respond with Thummim.” Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared.
42 Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!”
44 Saul said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.”
45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the LORD lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
46 Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.
47 After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings[e] of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them.[f]
48 He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.

Saul’s Family

49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal.
50 His wife’s name was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of Saul’s army was Abner son of Ner, and Ner was Saul’s uncle.
51 Saul’s father Kish and Abner’s father Ner were sons of Abiel.
52 All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.

1 Samuel 14 Commentary

Chapter 14

Jonathan smites the Philistines. (1-15) Their defeat. (16-23) Saul forbids the people to eat till evening. (24-35) Jonathan pointed out by lot. (36-46) Saul's family. (47-52)

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.

Cross References 67

  • 1. S Judges 4:5
  • 2. 1 Samuel 13:15
  • 3. S Exodus 28:33
  • 4. Isaiah 10:28
  • 5. S Genesis 35:18; 1 Samuel 4:21
  • 6. 1 Samuel 22:11,20
  • 7. S 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 2:28
  • 8. Psalms 78:60
  • 9. 1 Samuel 13:23
  • 10. S Joshua 18:24
  • 11. Judges 14:3; 1 Samuel 17:26,36; 1 Samuel 31:4; Jeremiah 9:26; Ezekiel 28:10
  • 12. S 1 Samuel 13:22; S 1 Kings 19:12; S Matthew 19:26; Hebrews 11:34
  • 13. Judges 7:4
  • 14. Psalms 33:16; 1 Samuel 17:46-47
  • 15. S Genesis 24:14; Judges 6:36-37
  • 16. S Joshua 2:24
  • 17. S Genesis 14:13
  • 18. S 1 Samuel 13:6
  • 19. Judges 8:16; 1 Samuel 17:43-44
  • 20. 1 Samuel 17:46; 2 Samuel 5:24
  • 21. S Genesis 35:5; S Exodus 14:24; S Exodus 19:16; 2 Kings 7:5-7
  • 22. 1 Samuel 13:17
  • 23. 2 Samuel 18:24; 2 Kings 9:17; Isaiah 52:8; Ezekiel 33:2
  • 24. 1 Samuel 30:7
  • 25. S Judges 18:5
  • 26. Numbers 27:21
  • 27. S Judges 7:22; Ezekiel 38:21; Zechariah 14:13; 2 Chronicles 20:23
  • 28. 1 Samuel 29:4
  • 29. S 1 Samuel 13:6
  • 30. S Exodus 14:30; Psalms 44:6-7
  • 31. S Joshua 7:2; 1 Samuel 13:5
  • 32. Joshua 6:26
  • 33. ver 43; Psalms 19:10; Proverbs 16:24; Proverbs 24:13; 1 Samuel 30:12
  • 34. Joshua 7:25; 1 Kings 18:18
  • 35. ver 5
  • 36. S Joshua 10:12
  • 37. 1 Samuel 15:19; Esther 9:10
  • 38. S Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10-14; Leviticus 19:26; Dt 12:16,23-24
  • 39. S Genesis 9:4
  • 40. Leviticus 19:26
  • 41. S 1 Samuel 7:17
  • 42. S Genesis 25:22; S Judges 18:5
  • 43. 1 Samuel 10:22; 1 Samuel 28:6,15; 2 Samuel 22:42; Psalms 18:41
  • 44. Joshua 7:11; 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 45. S Numbers 14:21; 2 Samuel 12:5; Job 19:25; Psalms 18:46; Psalms 42:2
  • 46. ver 44
  • 47. Joshua 7:15
  • 48. Acts 1:24
  • 49. Proverbs 16:33
  • 50. John 1:7
  • 51. S Joshua 7:19
  • 52. S ver 27
  • 53. S Ruth 1:17
  • 54. ver 39
  • 55. 1 Kings 1:52; S Matthew 10:30; Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34
  • 56. 2 Samuel 14:11
  • 57. S Genesis 19:37
  • 58. S Genesis 19:38; 2 Samuel 12:31; 1 Samuel 11:1-13
  • 59. 1 Samuel 21:7
  • 60. ver 52; 2 Samuel 8:3; 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 23:36
  • 61. S Genesis 36:12; Numbers 13:29; Judges 3:13; 1 Samuel 15:2,7; 1 Samuel 27:8; 1 Samuel 28:18; 1 Samuel 30:13; 2 Samuel 1:13; 1 Chronicles 4:43
  • 62. 1 Samuel 31:2; 1 Chronicles 8:33
  • 63. S Genesis 29:26; 1 Samuel 18:17-20
  • 64. 2 Samuel 2:8; 2 Samuel 3:6; 1 Kings 2:5
  • 65. 1 Samuel 10:14
  • 66. S 1 Samuel 9:1
  • 67. 1 Samuel 8:11

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or "a terrible panic"
  • [b]. Hebrew; Septuagint "“Bring the ephod.” (At that time he wore the ephod before the Israelites.)"
  • [c]. Or "his strength was renewed" ; similarly in verse 29
  • [d]. Septuagint; Hebrew does not have "“Why … at fault."
  • [e]. Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint "king"
  • [f]. Hebrew; Septuagint "he was victorious"

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of an adventure of Jonathan and his armourbearer smiting a garrison of the Philistines, 1Sa 14:1-14, which with other circumstances struck terror into the whole army; which being observed by Saul's spies, he and his men went out against them, and being joined by others, pursued them, and obtained a complete victory, 1Sa 14:15-23, but what sullied the glory of the day was a rash oath of Saul's, adjuring the people not to eat any food till evening which Jonathan not hearing of ignorantly broke, 1Sa 14:24-31 and which long fasting made the people so ravenous, that they slew their cattle, and ate them with the blood, contrary to the law of God, for which they were reproved by Saul, 1Sa 14:32-34, upon which he built an altar, and inquired of the Lord whether he should pursue the Philistines all that night till morning, but had no answer; which made him conclude sin was committed, and which he inquired after, declaring that if it was his own son Jonathan that had committed it he should surely die, 1Sa 14:35-39, the people being silent, he cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonathan; who had it not been for the resolution of the people that rescued him out of his hands, because of the great salvation he had wrought, must have died, 1Sa 14:40-46 and the chapter is cited with an account of Saul's battles with the neighbouring nations in general, and of his family, 1Sa 14:47-52.

1 Samuel 14 Commentaries