1 Samuel 14

1 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, "Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side." But he did not tell his father.
2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that is at Migron; the troops that were with him were about six hundred men,
3 along with Ahijah son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, son of Phinehas son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, carrying an ephod. Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.
4 In the pass, by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
5 One crag rose 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 carried his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few."
7 His armor-bearer said to him, "Do all that your mind inclines to. I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine."
8 Then Jonathan said, "Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them.
9 If they say to us, "Wait until we come to you,' then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them.
10 But if they say, "Come up to us,' then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us."
11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, "Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves."
12 The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer, saying, "Come up to us, and we will show you something." Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, "Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel."
13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer following after him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer, coming after him, killed them.
14 In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre of land.
15 There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.
16 Saul's lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin were watching as the multitude was surging back and forth.
17 Then Saul said to the troops that were with him, "Call the roll and see who has gone from us." When they had called the roll, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.
18 Saul said to Ahijah, "Bring the ark of God here." For at that time the ark of God went with the Israelites.
19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more; and Saul said to the priest, "Withdraw your hand."
20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle; and every sword was against the other, so that there was very great confusion.
21 Now the Hebrews who previously had been with the Philistines and had gone up with them into the camp turned and joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.
22 Likewise, when all the Israelites who had gone into hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed closely after them in the battle.
23 So the Lord gave Israel the victory that day. The battle passed beyond Beth-aven, and the troops with Saul numbered altogether about ten thousand men. The battle spread out over the hill country of Ephraim.
24 Now Saul committed a very rash act on that day. He had laid an oath on the troops, saying, "Cursed be anyone who eats food before it is evening and I have been avenged on my enemies." So none of the troops tasted food.
25 All the troops came upon a honeycomb; and there was honey on the ground.
26 When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out; but they did not put their hands to their mouths, for they feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath; so he extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened.
28 Then one of the soldiers said, "Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, "Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.' And so the troops are faint."
29 Then Jonathan said, "My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great."
31 After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint;
32 so the troops flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the troops ate them with the blood.
33 Then it was reported to Saul, "Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood." And he said, "You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone before me here."
34 Saul said, "Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them, "Let all bring their oxen or their sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.' " So all of the troops brought their oxen with them that night, and slaughtered them there.
35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.
36 Then Saul said, "Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave one of them." They said, "Do whatever seems good to you." But the priest said, "Let us draw near to God here."
37 So Saul inquired of God, "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?" But he did not answer him that day.
38 Saul said, "Come here, all you leaders of the people; and let us find out how this sin has arisen today.
39 For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is in my son Jonathan, he shall surely die!" But there was no one among all the people who answered him.
40 He said to all Israel, "You shall be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side." The people said to Saul, "Do what seems good to you."
41 Then Saul said, "O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant today? If this guilt is in me or in my son Jonathan, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in your people Israel, give Thummim." And Jonathan and Saul were indicated by the lot, but the people were cleared.
42 Then Saul said, "Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan." And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, "Tell me what you have done." Jonathan told him, "I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die."
44 Saul said, "God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan!"
45 Then the people said to Saul, "Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today." So the people ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die.
46 Then Saul withdrew from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.
47 When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side—against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines; wherever he turned he routed them.
48 He did valiantly, and struck down the Amalekites, and rescued 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 was Merab, and the name of the younger, Michal.
50 The name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner 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 hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any strong or valiant warrior, 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.

Footnotes 12

  • [a]. Heb [Between the passes]
  • [b]. Gk: Heb [Do all that is in your mind. Turn]
  • [c]. Gk: Heb lacks [so is mine]
  • [d]. Heb [They]
  • [e]. Heb [yoke]
  • [f]. Gk: Heb [they went and there]
  • [g]. Gk [the ephod]
  • [h]. Gk [the ephod]
  • [i]. Gk: Heb [The Israelites were distressed that day]
  • [j]. Heb [land]
  • [k]. Gk: Heb [me this day]
  • [l]. Vg Compare Gk: Heb +V41+W[Saul said to the Lord, the God of Israel]

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