Each section we read some pretty negative things that Saul does and believes. When I read today’s section I think, “Wow, that dude is crazy!” Then the section heading for the part where they can’t eat is called “Saul’s Rash Vow”. Exactly! Once again, I like to point out that the Bible is not just a book of what to do, but also has many many characters showing us what not to do. And we realize at the same time that we may be very similar to them, running toward some of the same mistakes. This section opens where the last one left off, with Jonathan and his armor-bearer causing quite the uproar in the Philistine camp while Saul and the Israelites who hadn’t deserted or joined the Philistines hid out in a cave. As the Philistine camp uproar is noticed, the people realize Jonathan is not with them, and as the ruckus increases they go to battle. The men who ran away as well as those who had joined the Philistines all join the fight, which is routing and chasing down the Philistines. Then while they are winning, Saul makes a crazy vow that there will be a curse upon his people for eating before they finish the job, using his power in exactly the way God had told the people a king would. So, the people are faint because they can’t eat, and Jonathan, who is now reunited with them, doesn’t know, so he eats some honey. Later Saul wants to chase down the Philistines some more (after everyone has finally eaten, and after yet another breach of God’s law because starving people didn’t cook or bleed their meat resulting in Saul building his very first altar to God), and the priest says they should consult God. God doesn’t answer. Well, of course, Saul doesn’t stop with the first rash decision, he also promises that he will kill whoever brought this lack of communication from God upon them. They cast lots and it falls to Jonathan, who explains he ate honey. Saul tries to kill him, but the people stand up for him, since Jonathan had been with God in his fight. So, Jonathan gets to live to see another day of his crazy dad being king.
The garrison of Philistines, the raiders, the watchmen of Saul, Saul, Jonathan, Jonathan’s armor-bearer, Ahijah, the ark of God, the people of Israel, the Lord.
Verse 45 “Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die.”
1 Samuel 14:39 “For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him.”
2 Samuel 14:11 “Then she said, “Please let the king invoke the Lord your God, that the avenger of blood kill no more, and my son be not destroyed.” He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.””
1 Kings 1:52 “And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.””
Luke 21:16-19 “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
Acts 27:34-36 “Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.”
Matthew 10:30-33 “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”
Luke 12:7-9 “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
There is a time to eat, and God has a plan for us all. He knows us so intimately that he knows how many hairs are on my head, and yours. And he takes care of us far better than the birds, which includes providing food to us in times of need. If only Saul could grow in a relationship with God during this story instead of remaining so distant from Him. Saul might have recognized the simple fact that people in battle need sustenance to keep going. Jonathan’s insight is that the battle turned out not to be as great because the people were so hungry. The people recognize his help in beating the Philistines, and so they keep him from being killed by his own father. We must trust God completely, to provide us bread and honey, to keep us from true harm. And we must also make sure that we are not making rash promises. Many of us, myself included, can speak in hyperbole, blowing things way out of proportion. This can extend to goals, plans, and promises we make. Before we eat we have to run five errands! Then at errand two we are snapping at our family from hunger, but we HAVE to go to three more places. Instead of making promises and rules in this way, we can go with a more flexible approach which would allow us to eat after errand two and apologize for snapping at our loved ones.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“Saul’s willingness to wait on the Lord, already in question after chapter 13, shows a pattern of decline. In 14:18-19, Saul calls for anoracular inquiry in order to discover God’s will but, when the situation gets too intense, breaks it off before receiving an answer (“withdraw your hand”). Later, in verse 36, Saul apparently forgets to inquire of the Lord altogether and must bereminded by the priest. How true this pattern can be in the lives of those who don’t take God seriously. When God does not occupy first place, he seldom remains long in second, but is quickly relegated to ever lower standing, until he is forgotten altogether. By contrast, those responsive to the gospel are encouraged to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful,” and they are enjoined to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:23-24).”*
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 14:47—15:30
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