January 18, 2017
1 Samuel 14b
Shawn Bumpers / General
We didn’t finish chapter 14 last week, but left off at verse 23, so we’ll pick back up with verse 24 today.
To recap from last week, Jonathan and his armor-bearer had launched a two man attack against a garrison of the Philistines without Saul knowing.
Jonathan was not with Saul, but was elsewhere considering an attack on a Philistine garrison.
1 Samuel 14:12 NKJV
Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.”
Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel.”
The Philistines, who had been sleeping, awoke and panicked.
Thinking the Israelite army was upon them they began to fight with and kill one another out of confusion.
After Jonathan had believed God to give him the victory and initiated the attack, Saul, assembled his troops and shared in the victory.
It was foolish to think that a vow of sacrifice would give him victory when his heart was not right with God!
Later on, he would be told, “To obey is better than to sacrifice.”
Romans 14:23 NKJV
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
And that is the difference … Saul is acting out of unbelief, dishonoring God and Jonathan is acting out of belief, honoring God.
1 John 1:9 NKJV
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 Corinthians 11:27–32 NKJV
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Back to the setup for our chapter, Saul foolishly placed his army under a vow, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies” (1 Samuel 14:24).
1 Samuel 14:24 NKJV
And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.
Saul will try to have his own son put to death to uphold his unrighteous vow, but the people of Israel will rescue Jonathan.
The spiritual conditions of our hearts are revealed not by the actions we perform but also by the words that we speak.
Matthew 12:34 NKJV
Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Saul had placed the people of Israel under a vow of fasting.
In the Old Testament fasting is often in connection with making a request before God.
Psalm 69:10 NKJV
When I wept and chastened my soul with fasting,
That became my reproach.
It was a demonstration of humility and repentance before the LORD … and not a spiritual show to be seen by others or to detract from faith in God.
But Saul’s vow of fasting as a requirement DURING battle is ridiculous … it’s not for the sake of consecration to the Lord, but for the sake of Saul himself … his honor … his glory.
Without the command of the Lord, no commander would require his army to go without food before a battle.
IF God commanded a fast, He would provide the strength needed for battle.
Jonathan and his armor-bearer knew nothing of Saul’s rash vow when they joined back up with the Israelite army.
So, when Jonathan saw the honey readily available, just as God had promised the land flowing with milk and honey, he ate of it.
There are some questions here.
Saul’s vow had both weakened the soldiers and hindered their ability to pursue and completely destroy the enemy.
But it had also caused the men to be more attentive to their stomachs than to the LORD.
Jonathan says his father has troubled the land.
It could be argued that he should not have said this.
The word used here for “troubled” is the Hebrew Akar (ah-CHAR).
Saul had ordered the army not to eat, so they were too weak to continue to pursue the Philistines.
YET there was food at hand.
That honey would have renewed the strength of all, so that they could have established their victory in the Philistine’s own land.
Back in Deuteronomy 12, God had commanded Israel to always drain the blood from an animal before they butchered it.
Deuteronomy 12:23 NKJV
Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat.
They were not to consume blood.
Genesis 9:3–4 NKJV
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
Those restrictions on food that were further amplified by the Law of Moses were made obsolete under Christ
Israel, however, was under the Law of Moses.
And on this day of battle, because of Saul’s foolish command, the people were so hungry they broke this command.
Mark 7:8 NKJV
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
And we might think that legalistic rules keep people from sin.
Colossians 2:23 NKJV
These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Back to our text, Aijalon was a few miles southwest of Beth Horon and about twenty miles west of Micmash.
It was a town on the edge of the hill country … the area indwelt by the Philistines.
But first, Saul chastised the people saying, “You have dealt treacherously,” blaming the people for what is really his own fault.
He should have never made such a foolish vow.
That being said, this does not excuse the sin of the people.
Matthew 18:7 NKJV
Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
So, Saul set up an alter so that the animals could be offered as fellowship offerings.
Not only was Saul trying to make the sinful feasting that resulted of his foolish vow acceptable, but he is now trying to make how his vow affected the battle outcome acceptable.
He decided to move the army that very night so that they could surprise the Philistines in the morning.
We aren’t told, but it seems implied that the manner in which the Lord’s will was sought was with the Urim and the Thummim.
We have the same situation, of course, today … however we have the full Word of God today … more than the early Israelites had.
We have no need of consulting things outside of what God has provided for us to seek His will.
A.W. Tozer put it this way: “If God gives you a watch, are you honoring Him more by asking Him what time it is, or by simply consulting the watch?”
However the priest here decided to consult the LORD, He did not answer.
I believe the reason for God’s silence in this is that He was using this event to rebuke Saul and honor Jonathan.
We almost get the impression that Saul was determined to bring destruction to his son, Jonathan.
For one thing, Jonathan didn’t agree with his father’s policies, and secondly, he kept having greater victories than his dad.
Proverbs 16:33 NKJV
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
God wanted to bring the whole thing out into the open not for the purpose of punishing the righteous but that the unrighteous be put to shame.
In this case, that would be Saul.
Of course, Saul didn’t completely lose out here … he was the king of Israel, and Israel had been victorious over the Philistines.
All these children were by Saul’s wife, Ahinoam.
We find out in 2 Samuel 21 that Saul had 2 additional children by his concubine.
Jonathan, Malchishua and Abinadab all died with Saul at Gilboa.
What we don’t know is what happened to the middle child, Yishvi.