1 Samuel Chapter 14

by Linda Claassen Mitchell

Trust in God: Day 1

Jonathan trusts God and God is faithful.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, trusted that God would give them the victory over the Philistines.

1 Samuel 14:1 (IEB): “Then the day came when Jonathan, Saul’s son, spoke to the young man who carried his weapons. Jonathan said, ‘Come on, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost that is on the other side.’ (However, Jonathan did not tell his father.)”

Romans 15_13 LM Image

1 Samuel 14:6-10 (IEB): “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his weapons, ‘Come on, let’s cross over to the outpost of those men who are not circumcised! (A frequent Hebrew term of contempt for the Philistines.) Perhaps Yahweh will help us. It does not matter to Yahweh whether we have many soldiers of only a few. Yahweh can give us a victory!’
The one who carried Jonathan’s armor said to him, ‘Do whatever is in your heart. Go ahead, I am with you. It’s your decision.’ Jonathan said, ‘Listen, we will cross over to the Philistines. Then we will reveal ourselves to them. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we get to you.’ then we will stay put; we will not go up to them. But if they say ‘Come up to us.’ then we will climb up farther, because Yahweh has given us the victory over them! That will be the sign for us!

My thoughts: Wow! That showed a LOT of faith in God! Once they were spotted, it was “Do or Die”!

1 Samuel 14:11-15 (IEB): “Both of them showed themselves to the men of the Philistine outpost. And the Philistines said, ‘Look! Hebrews are coming out the holes where they were hiding! Then the Philistines in that outpost shouted to Jonathan and the one who carried his weapons, ‘Come up here to us! We will teach you something!’ So Jonathan said to his helper, ‘Climb up behind me. Yahweh has given the victory to Israel! So Jonathan climbed up high, using his hands and feet. His assistant was right behind him. And Jonathan cut them down one-by-one as he went. And his helper finished them off as he followed behind Jonathan. Jonathan and his assistant killed about 20 Philistines in that first fight, within an area of about half an acre.
The ground itself shook. All the Philistine soldiers panicked. And, those in the main camp and those among the raiders were so scared. God caused this general panic to occur.”

As I leave my study today I am reminded again that when I trust God, he is faithful. Jonathan’s example also inspired his servant. I need to remember that people are looking at what I do. My prayer today is one of praise to God for his total and complete control.


Trust in God: Day 2

Seeking God’s guidance:

Jonathan and his helper were in the process of attacking the Philistines, but they had not told anyone at Saul’s camp where they had gone.

1 Samuel 14:16-18 (IEB): “The lookouts of Saul in Gibeah-Benjamin were watching. Behold, the Philistine camp was in a state of complete confusion. So, Saul
said to his army that was with him, ‘do a roll call and see who is missing!’ They did so. And behold, Jonathan and his helper were gone!
Then Saul said to Ahijah (The priest and a distant relative of Eli), ‘Bring the holy vest of the one true God! (a) (It had been restored to the Israelites at that time.) (b)
Following the footnotes:
(a) “the ephod” Exodus 28:6-14 according to the Septuagint:
Exodus 28:6-14 (IEB):”They are to make an ephod from gold thread, from blue, purple, and red yarn, and from fine-spun cotton, the result of a skilled craftsman. He must have two shoulder straps attached to two of its corners, so that it may be joined together. The ephod’s skillfully-woven waistband must be made just like it – all of one piece with the ephod and made with gold thread, and with blue, purple, and red yarn, and with fine-spun cotton. Take two onyx stones and engrave upon them the names of the twelve sons of Israel in the order of their birth – six of their names on one stone and the remaining six names on the other stone. Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones in the same way that a jewel-cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in delicate, gold settings and put two stones on the ephod’s shoulder straps as stones to remind the sons of Israel. Aaron will carry their names into My presence on his two shoulders as a memorial. Make delicate, gold settings and two, pure-gold, braided chains like a rope, and then attach them to the settings.”

My note: Exodus 28:15-29 gives instructions for making a chest-plate for understanding God’s will that is to be attached to the ephod.

Footnotes cont. (a) The Masoretic Hebrew text has: “Bring the Holy Chest of God”. Regarding its contents, “The Urim and Thummim” see Exodus 28:30:
Exodus 28:30 (IEB):”Put the Urim and Thummim (e) in the chest-plate for understanding My will …”
Following the footnotes for (e) = “Light” and “Truth” (perfection); two small objects used by the Israelite priests to determine the will of God.
(b) It was located in Kiriath-Jearim. (1 Samuel 7:1)

So when Saul is asking for the ephod in order to determine God’s will, he is actually asking for the entire priestly garment; the ephod, chest-plate, Urim and Thummim.

As I leave my study today I am reminded to seek God’s will in order to do the right thing. I want God on my side, but that only happens when I am on God’s side. He is always right, and I am not. My prayer today is one of thanks for His Holy Word.


Trust in God: Day 3

Waiting for God’s guidance – or not.

Jonathan (Saul’s son) and his helper were missing from the Israelite camp, and the Philistine’s camp was in a state of confusion. Saul had sent for the holy vest of the one true God so the priest could determine what God would have them do.

1 Samuel 14:19 (IEB): “And, when Saul was still speaking to Ahijah the priest, the disturbance in the Philistine camp got worse and worse. So Saul said to the priest, ‘Stop what you are doing now! (c)”

Following the footnotes: (c) literally, “Draw back your hand!” Saul decided that he did not have time to wait for Yahweh’s answer; he wanted to press his military advantage immediately.

1 Samuel 14:20-23 (IEB): “Then Saul quickly organized all the soldiers who were with him and went to fight the Philistines. But, look, there was a great panic among the Philistines – they were killing each other! Before this time, there were some Hebrews who were forced to work for the Philistines. These Hebrews had gone up with the Philistines and were everywhere in the Philistine camp. These Hebrew servants joined Israel’s army, with Saul and Jonathan. Then all the men of Israel who had been hiding in the hill-country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were retreating. And, after the battle, they chased the Philistines. So, on that day, Yahweh saved Israel. And the conflict moved on past Beth-Aven. Now the Israelites were hard pressed that day. Why? Because Saul forced his soldiers to take an oath. Saul said, ‘I must get the victory over my enemies. Any of my men who eats food before nightfall is cursed!’ You soldier must fast”

1 Samuel 14:27-30 (IEB): “But Jonathan never heard about the oath which his father made his soldiers vow. Jonathan reached out with the tip of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. Then he ate some of the honey. Immediately, he felt refreshed. Later, a soldier told Jonathan, ‘Your father forced us to take this vow: ‘The man who eats any food today is cursed! Because of this, the army is very weak.’ Jonathan said, ‘My father is hurting my countrymen. Look how I have perked up because I ate a little honey! How much better it would have been today if our fellow-soldiers had been permitted to eat freely from the plunder which they got from their enemies! By now, we could have killed many more Philistines!”

As I leave my study today, I am reminded that Saul’s focus was on his own success. He didn’t have time to wait for God. Jonathan had faith that Yahweh would give them a victory. God caused confusion in the Philistine camp, and the battle was won. Saul on the other hand is thinking only of his personal goals and seems to be making one mistake after another because he has not consulted God.

I have to ask myself today, “Is my focus on my personal goals or on God’s plan?”


Trust in God: Day 4

The Consequences of acting without God’s guidance:

Saul had gone into battle without waiting for God’s word. In addition, he made his army vow not to stop to eat until the battle with the Philistines was won. Saul said “Any of my men who eat food before nightfall is cursed!”

1 Samuel 14:31-33 (IEB): “On that day, the Israelites struck down the Philistines from Michmash to Aijalon.” (Aijalon was about 20 miles west of Michmash.) “However, the Israelites became very weak because of the lack of energy. They had captured plunder from the Philistines – sheep, goats, oxen, and calves. That night” (after the curse expired) “they began killing the animals on the ground, not draining the blood! The soldiers ate the meat raw, with the blood still in it! This was reported to Saul: ‘Look, the soldiers are sinning against Yahweh by eating the meat with the blood still in it!’ (c)”

Following the footnotes:
(c) This was strictly forbidden by God’s law. Compare Gen. 9:4; Lev. 17:11-12; 19:26; Deut. 12:16; Ezek. 33:25; Acts 15:20.
Genesis 9:4 (IEB): “The one thing you must not eat is meat which still has the blood (its life) in it. I forbid this!”
Leviticus 17:11-12 (IEB): “This is because the life of the body is in the blood. (d) And I have given you special rules for pouring that blood on the altar to cancel your sins. Why? Because it is the blood that cancels the sins! That is why I tell the people of Israel this: ‘None of you are permitted to eat blood! And, no foreigner who lives among you may eat blood, either!”
Following the footnote:
(d) God is the Sovereign Author of and the Owner of all life. This verse emphasizes the sanctity of life. “Blood” represents a living sacrifice which was killed to substitute one life for another life. Blood is the fountain of life.)

Leviticus 19:26 (IEB): “You must not eat any meat with the blood still in it…”
Deuteronomy 12:16 (IEB): “But, do not eat the blood! You must pour it out on the ground like water.”
Ezekiel 33:25 (IEB): “This is what the Lord Yahweh says: ‘You eat meat with the blood still in it. You ask your idols for help. You murder people. Should you then have the land as your very own? No!'”
Acts 15:20 (IEB)
the apostles, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave these rules to the non-Jewish believers: “…Do not eat food which has been given to idols. Do not commit any kind of sexual sin. Do not eat animals which have been strangled. Do not taste blood.”

Saul put his personal desires for a victory ahead of listening to God. The consequence was that Saul’s men kept the oath to Saul not to eat until night, but they were so weak that they defied God’s command by eating the meat with the blood still in it. I am reminded that there are consequences when I follow my own will and not God’s will.


Trust in God: Day 5

The Consequences cont.:

When Saul found out his army was eating meat with the blood still in it, he had a large stone rolled where he was and commanded his men to butcher the meat there and drain off the blood. Then Saul built an alter to Yahweh. Saul wanted to go after the Philistines that night. The soldiers were willing, but the priest said “Let us ask the one true God first.” (1 Sam. 14:36)

1 Samuel 14:37-41 (IEB): “So, Saul tried to get an answer from God: ‘Should I go down after the Philistines now? Will You give us the victory?’ However, Yahweh did not answer Saul that day (f). So, Saul said, ‘Bring all the leaders of the army here. Today we must find out what sin has occurred to cause this silence from God! As surely as the Always-Present One lives, (g)
the One who saves Israel, even if the cause is in my son Jonathan, he will surely die!’ But none of the soldiers said anything to Saul. (They knew that Jonathan had eaten some food.)
Then Saul said to all Israel, ‘All of you must stand on one side, and my son Jonathan and I will stand on the other side.’ The army said to Saul, ‘Do whatever you think is best.’
Then Saul prayed to Yahweh, the God of Israel, ‘Give me a clear answer!’ And God showed that it was on Jonathan and Saul’s side; the army was not chosen. (a)”

Following the footnotes:
(f) because the oath had been broken during the battle
(g) this was oath language. Compare 1 Sam. 19:6; Jer. 4-2; Hos. 4:15, et al.
(a) literally, “Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people went out” (that is, went free = they were not held responsible for violating Saul’s imposed oath.)

1 Samuel 14:42-44 (IEB): “Then Saul said, ‘Now, show whether it is me or my son Jonathan.’ And, Jonathan was chosen by lot.
Then Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Tell me what you did!’ So Jonathan told him, ‘I did taste a little honey with the end of the rod which was in my hand. Here I am. Must I die!?’ Saul answered, ‘Yes! God will punish me if you are not put to death!’ (b)”

Following the footnote:
(b) a curse formula. Compare Ruth 1:17; 1 Samuel 3:17; 25:22; 2 Samuel 3:9,35; 19:13; 1 Kings 2:23; 2 Kings 6:31
Ruth 1:17 (IEB): “Wherever you die, I will die. And I will be buried there. May Yahweh treat me harshly – no matter how harsh it is – if anything except death separates you and me.”
1 Samuel 3:17 (IEB): “Eli asked (Samuel), ‘What did Yahweh say to you? Please, don’t hide it from me! May God punish you terribly if you hide from me anything that He spoke to you!”

As I leave my study today I see how decisions made without God’s leading can have unforeseen and tragic consequences, not just for me but also for those I love.

My prayer today is that I will be determined to seek His will in all things, and that I will be obedient to His word.


Trust in God: Day 6

Keep trying – God is with you:

At the end of yesterday’s study Saul had decided that Jonathan must die or he, Saul, would be punished. This was the result of a curse that Saul had placed on those who did not follow Saul’s oath to fight the Philistines, and not to eat until nightfall. Saul had declared this oath without consulting God.

1 Samuel 14:45-46 (IEB): “But the army said to Saul, ‘Should Jonathan die!?’ NEVER! He is the one who won this great victory in Israel! As surely as the Always-Present One lives, nothing bad is going to happen to Jonathan! It was Jonathan who cooperated with God today!’ So, the army rescued Jonathan; he did not die.
Then Saul quit chasing the Philistines. The Philistines retreated to their own territory.”

My thoughts: Saul made two bad choices; by not consulting God before entering the battle, and by making that oath and curse. Jonathan might have paid with his life for Saul’s willfulness if the army had not intervened. I can imagine Saul’s relief that the army (and God) gave him an honorable way out of killing his own son, but it had to be a sharp wake-up call to Saul to be told by his own army that the victory was because Jonathan followed God, not because of him or his oath.

1 Samuel 14:47-48 (IEB): “After Saul had taken charge of the kingdom over Israel, (d) he fought against all his enemies that surrounded him – against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever Saul turned, he defeated them. Saul was a strong warrior. He also struck down the Amalekites. He rescued Israel from the control of those who were plundering them.”

Following the footnotes:
(d) Before this time, Saul was king in name only, because the land of Israel was still occupied by the Philistines and other ethnic groups.

My thoughts: Saul made some serious mistakes, but it did not stop him from getting back up and completing the job. Jonathan trusted that God would give them the victory and he was rewarded.

As I leave my study today I am reminded that God doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but He does expect me to trust Him, try to be obedient, and to repent when I fall short. He also expects me to get back up and keep trying, knowing that I am forgiven and that He is with me.

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