1 Samuel 14

Listen to 1 Samuel 14
1 One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.
2 Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron.
3 Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the LORD who had served at Shiloh. No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp.
4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh.
5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba.
6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD . He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”
8 “All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us.
9 If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them.
10 But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the LORD ’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”
11 When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!”
12 Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” “Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the LORD will help us defeat them!”
13 So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them.
14 They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.
15 Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.
16 Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin saw a strange sight—the vast army of Philistines began to melt away in every direction.
17 “Call the roll and find out who’s missing,” Saul ordered. And when they checked, they found that Jonathan and his armor bearer were gone.
18 Then Saul shouted to Ahijah, “Bring the ephod here!” For at that time Ahijah was wearing the ephod in front of the Israelites.
19 But while Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp grew louder and louder. So Saul said to the priest, “Never mind; let’s get going!”
20 Then Saul and all his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other. There was terrible confusion everywhere.
21 Even the Hebrews who had previously gone over to the Philistine army revolted and joined in with Saul, Jonathan, and the rest of the Israelites.
22 Likewise, the men of Israel who were hiding in the hill country of Ephraim joined the chase when they saw the Philistines running away.
23 So the LORD saved Israel that day, and the battle continued to rage even beyond Beth-aven.
24 Now the men of Israel were pressed to exhaustion that day, because Saul had placed them under an oath, saying, “Let a curse fall on anyone who eats before evening—before I have full revenge on my enemies.” So no one ate anything all day,
25 even though they had all found honeycomb on the ground in the forest.
26 They didn’t dare touch the honey because they all feared the oath they had taken.
27 But Jonathan had not heard his father’s command, and he dipped the end of his stick into a piece of honeycomb and ate the honey. After he had eaten it, he felt refreshed.
28 But one of the men saw him and said, “Your father made the army take a strict oath that anyone who eats food today will be cursed. That is why everyone is weary and faint.”
29 “My father has made trouble for us all!” Jonathan exclaimed. “A command like that only hurts us. See how refreshed I am now that I have eaten this little bit of honey.
30 If the men had been allowed to eat freely from the food they found among our enemies, think how many more Philistines we could have killed!”
31 They chased and killed the Philistines all day from Micmash to Aijalon, growing more and more faint.
32 That evening they rushed for the battle plunder and butchered the sheep, goats, cattle, and calves, but they ate them without draining the blood.
33 Someone reported to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the LORD by eating meat that still has blood in it.” “That is very wrong,” Saul said. “Find a large stone and roll it over here.
34 Then go out among the troops and tell them, ‘Bring the cattle, sheep, and goats here to me. Kill them here, and drain the blood before you eat them. Do not sin against the LORD by eating meat with the blood still in it.’” So that night all the troops brought their animals and slaughtered them there.
35 Then Saul built an altar to the LORD ; it was the first of the altars he built to the LORD .
36 Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.” His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.” But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”
37 So Saul asked God, “Should we go after the Philistines? Will you help us defeat them?” But God made no reply that day.
38 Then Saul said to the leaders, “Something’s wrong! I want all my army commanders to come here. We must find out what sin was committed today.
39 I vow by the name of the LORD who rescued Israel that the sinner will surely die, even if it is my own son Jonathan!” But no one would tell him what the trouble was.
40 Then Saul said, “Jonathan and I will stand over here, and all of you stand over there.” And the people responded to Saul, “Whatever you think is best.”
41 Then Saul prayed, “O LORD, God of Israel, please show us who is guilty and who is innocent. ” Then they cast sacred lots, and Jonathan and Saul were chosen as the guilty ones, and the people were declared innocent.
42 Then Saul said, “Now cast lots again and choose between me and Jonathan.” And Jonathan was shown to be the guilty one.
43 “Tell me what you have done,” Saul demanded of Jonathan. “I tasted a little honey,” Jonathan admitted. “It was only a little bit on the end of my stick. Does that deserve death?”
44 “Yes, Jonathan,” Saul said, “you must die! May God strike me and even kill me if you do not die for this.”
45 But the people broke in and said to Saul, “Jonathan has won this great victory for Israel. Should he die? Far from it! As surely as the LORD lives, not one hair on his head will be touched, for God helped him do a great deed today.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
46 Then Saul called back the army from chasing the Philistines, and the Philistines returned home.
47 Now when Saul had secured his grasp on Israel’s throne, he fought against his enemies in every direction—against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. And wherever he turned, he was victorious.
48 He performed great deeds and conquered the Amalekites, saving Israel from all those who had plundered them.
49 Saul’s sons included Jonathan, Ishbosheth, and Malkishua. He also had two daughters: Merab, who was older, and Michal.
50 Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of Saul’s army was Abner, the son of Saul’s uncle Ner.
51 Saul’s father, Kish, and Abner’s father, Ner, were both sons of Abiel.
52 The Israelites fought constantly with the Philistines throughout Saul’s lifetime. So whenever Saul observed a young man who was brave and strong, he drafted him into his army.

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.

Footnotes 9

  • [a]. Or around the rock of Rimmon; compare Judg 20:45, 47 ; 21:13 .
  • [b]. Hebrew half a yoke; a “yoke” was the amount of land plowed by a pair of yoked oxen in one day.
  • [c]. As in Greek version; Hebrew reads they went and there.
  • [d]. As in some Greek manuscripts; Hebrew reads “Bring the Ark of God.” For at that time the Ark of God was with the Israelites.
  • [e]. Hebrew Withdraw your hand.
  • [f]. Or his eyes brightened; similarly in 14:29 .
  • [g]. Greek version adds If the fault is with me or my son Jonathan, respond with Urim; but if the men of Israel are at fault, respond with Thummim.
  • [h]. As in Greek version; Hebrew reads he acted wickedly.
  • [i]. Hebrew Ishvi, a variant name for Ishbosheth; also known as Esh-baal.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 14

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