Chapter 13- Saul and his son Jonathan gather 3000 men to fight the Philistines. They are vastly outnumbered, though, and end up scattering in fear. Saul waits for Samuel to arrive, but when he doesn’t show up on time, Saul goes ahead and offers a burnt offering. Samuel shows up and gets mad at Saul for not following God’s commands, and tells Saul that his kingdom will not continue. Philistine raiders come to attack the Israelites, who have no swords or spears.
Apparently during the Philistine occupation, the Israelites weren’t allowed to have blacksmiths. The Philistines feared that they would make swords and spears to attack with (rightfully so, it seems). Any time they needed an ax or sickle sharpened, the Israelites would have to pay the Philistine blacksmiths to do it for them. So, this leaves our Israelites in bad shape when it comes to fighting their overlords.
I was curious how the previous battles with the Philistines had been won if the people didn’t have any weapons, but upon skimming back over the previous chapters in 1st Samuel I realized that the Israelites haven’t really won any battles recently. God thundered away the bad guys in chapter 7, but otherwise the Israelites have been losing a lot of fights as of late.
Also, I don’t really understand what Saul did that displeased God. Offering a burnt offering instead of waiting for Samuel to do it? But Samuel was late, and he’s not a Levite either, so what makes one non-Levite burnt offering less wrath-inducing than another?
Chapter 14- Jonathan and his armor bearer decide to go fight the Philistines without telling Saul what they’re doing. They kill about 20 men. When Saul and the people with him hear the ruckus coming from the Philistine camp, they join the fight. Saul threatens to curse any man who eats anything before the battle is won, but Jonathan didn’t hear him say that, and he eats some honey. This encourages other men to slaughter animals and eat them as well. Saul is going to follow through on his curse and Jonathan killed for eating, but the people protest and save Jonathan. Saul goes on to battle the Philistines and other assorted bad guys and defeat them/plunder them.
Verse 20, “Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the battle; and indeed every man’s word was against his neighbor; and there was very great confusion.” And where, pray tell, did these men get swords? In that last chapter they didn’t have any, and now they all have one? Or maybe this means that the Philistines were confused and attacked each other. That makes more sense perhaps… I sure wish the Bible could be more clear (and learn to properly use semicolons!)
Saul, this man appointed by God Himself, thinks that the moral thing to do is kill his own son for eating honey. The people, who have a track record of being wicked in the eyes of God here lately, are the ones that see fit to save Jonathan. Remind me again how following God makes people more moral?
And speaking of stupid ideas Saul had- what’s up with not letting your army eat. Why would you want to starve your fighters? I guess I could see meal time being a distraction during battle, but I suspect that really hungry people aren’t going to be in their best fighting form either.