Leave a 75th Birthday Greeting to Honor Dr. Michael Youssef for His Ministry Leading The Way!

1 Samuel 13

Listen to 1 Samuel 13

Saul Fights the Philistines

1 Saul was[a] years old when he began to reign, and he reigned and two[b] years over Israel.
2 Saul chose three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in 1Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in 2Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent home, every man to his tent.
3 Jonathan defeated 3the garrison of the Philistines that was 4at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul 5blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, "Let the Hebrews hear."
4 And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. And the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.
5 And the Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops 6like the sand on the seashore in multitude. They came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of 7Beth-aven.
6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves 8in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns,
7 and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Saul's Unlawful Sacrifice

8 9He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him.
9 So Saul said, "Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings." And he offered the burnt offering.
10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him.
11 Samuel said, "What have you done?" And Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash,
12 I said, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.' So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering."
13 And Samuel said to Saul, 10"You have done foolishly. 11You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
14 But now 12your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man 13after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you."
15 And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal[c] to 14Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, 15about six hundred men.
16 And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in 16Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.
17 And 17raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual;
18 another company turned toward 18Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of 19Zeboim toward the wilderness.
19 20Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make themselves swords or spears."
20 But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, or his sickle,[d]
21 and the charge was two-thirds of a shekel[e] for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and a third of a shekel[f] for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.[g]
22 So on the day of the battle 21there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them.
23 And 22the garrison of the Philistines went out to the 23pass of 24Michmash.

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 24

  • 1. ver. 5, 11, 16, 23; 1 Samuel 14:31
  • 2. ver. 15; 1 Samuel 10:26
  • 3. 1 Samuel 10:5
  • 4. ver. 16; 1 Samuel 14:5
  • 5. [Judges 3:27]
  • 6. Joshua 11:4
  • 7. 1 Samuel 14:23
  • 8. Judges 6:2; Hebrews 11:38
  • 9. 1 Samuel 10:8
  • 10. 2 Samuel 24:10; 1 Chronicles 21:8; 2 Chronicles 16:9
  • 11. 1 Samuel 15:11
  • 12. 1 Samuel 15:28
  • 13. Cited Acts 13:22
  • 14. ver. 2
  • 15. 1 Samuel 14:2
  • 16. ver. 3; 1 Samuel 14:5
  • 17. 1 Samuel 14:15
  • 18. See Joshua 10:10
  • 19. Nehemiah 11:34
  • 20. [2 Kings 24:14]
  • 21. [Judges 5:8]
  • 22. 1 Samuel 14:1, 4, 6, 11; 2 Samuel 23:14
  • 23. 1 Samuel 14:4, 5; Isaiah 10:28, 29
  • 24. Isaiah 10:28

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. The number is lacking in Hebrew and Septuagint
  • [b]. Two may not be the entire number; something may have dropped out
  • [c]. Septuagint; Hebrew lacks The rest of the people... from Gilgal
  • [d]. Septuagint; Hebrew plowshare
  • [e]. Hebrew was a pim
  • [f]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
  • [g]. The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain

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

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.