Let this strengthen the weak and encourage the timid,
that no matter how few and feeble those are who seek to Him for direction and acknowledge Him in all their ways,
God will give the victory.
God can not only save us,
but save by us, therefore let faith venture.
I Samuel 1
1 Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
2 And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men;
3 And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, I-chabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.
4 ¶ And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
5 The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
9 If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
10 But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
11 And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
12 And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.
13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
14 And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
17 Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there.
18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.
19 ¶ And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.
20 And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
21 Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.
22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
23 So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven.
24 ¶ And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food.
25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
26 And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath.
27 But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.
28 Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint.
29 Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
30 How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?
31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.
33 ¶ Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.
34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.
35 And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.
36 ¶ And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God.
37 And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
38 And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.
39 For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.
40 Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee.
41 Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.
43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.
47 ¶ So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.
48 And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.
49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-shua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:
50 And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.
51 And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
52 And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.
I Samuel 1 – J. Vernon McGee
1 Samuel 14:1-15 – Jonathan’s Exploit for the Lord
Jonathan was a true knight of God. He was the Hebrew Galahad, a soldier without fear and without reproach. His life was pure, his word was true, he was faithful to the high claims of human love, and followed the Christ, though as yet he knew Him not.
He had entered into the spirit of the divine Covenant, and could not believe that God had forgotten and forsaken. Was not the old promise true that “one [should] chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight?” Deuteronomy 32:30. Happy are they who can rise above depression and misfortune into the clear heaven of fellowship with God, allying their weakness with His might, their ignorance with His wisdom! “It may be that the LORD will work for us” said Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:6); “for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” Then he offered himself as the humble instrument of God’s will. The people recognized this. They said (1 Samuel 14:45): “He hath wrought with God this day.” And the soul that reckons on God cannot be ashamed. “The LORD saved Israel that day” (1 Samuel 14:23). In such works God and man co-operate. See John 3:21.
1 Samuel 14:16-35 – Victory Shadowed by Saul’s Errors
Saul’s unwise prohibition had a terrible sequel: first, in the exhaustion of his troops; and, second, in the rushing of the hungry upon the spoil without the proper separation of blood. Then, as the day closed in, the divine oracle was dumb. Evidently some sin had interposed its dark shadow between the king and the Eternal Light. See I Samuel 14:37. Saul knew this, but he refused to look for the sin in his own heart, even when he and Jonathan stood alone. See I Samuel 14:42.
The cause of the discomfiture and silence was not in Jonathan. Saul was alone to blame. In that the good sense of the people decided rigidly. Not only had the king marred and missed the greatest opportunity of his life, but he was already enwrapping his soul in that jealousy, moroseness of temper and impetuosity of judgment which ruined his after-career. In Paul’s expressive phrase, he became a castaway, and was flung from the mighty hand which longed to make Him a vessel unto honor, meet for every noble work. See I Corinthians 9:27; II Timothy 2:21.
I Samuel 14:27—His eyes were enlightened.
The Philistines were in full flight. The Israelites followed hard at their heels through the wood. It was there that the honey dropped in rich abundance on the ground, and there Jonathan tasted a little, dipping the end of his rod into it. It made all the difference to him, warding off the excessive exhaustion which paralyzed the rest of the army.
The Word of God is sweeter than the honeycomb: luscious to the sanctified taste; enlightening to the dimming eyes; strength giving to the weary. It drops in abundance to the ground, as though inviting the hand of the Christian warrior or wayfarer to take it freely. If there is no taste for the written Word, it may be assumed that the living Word has not been enthroned in the heart; for where He reigns supreme, there is a longing for the food which alone can fit us for the Christian life.
Where we cannot take much, let us take some. There was not time for Jonathan to sit down and take his fill. He could only catch up some as he hastily passed through the forest glade; but that little made all the difference to him. So, in the early morning, or at mid day, if we cannot fill our hearts with Scripture, we may catch up a morsel, which will minister untold refreshment, and clear our spiritual vision.
We specially need to do this when flushed with success. Too often, when we have had success in the battles of the Lord a good time in preaching or teaching we are apt to congratulate ourselves, and suppose that we can live on the emotions excited. But, probably, there is no time when we need more absolutely to turn to the Word of God. In victory, as in defeat, we must be fed and nourished.
1 Samuel 14:36-52 – The Man Who Wrought with God Rescued
In this case the voice of the people was the voice of God. If a man dares to stand alone with God, he cannot be put to shame. If he says of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). Ten thousand voices answer (Psalm 91:4-5): “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust… Thou shalt not be afraid.” “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn” (Isaiah 54:17). One with God is always on the stronger side.
How safe are they who do God’s commandments, hearkening to the voice of His wind! When our Lord was arrested, He stood boldly before His captors and, interposing between them and His timid disciples, said (John 18:8), “If… ye seek me, let these go their way.” This is His invariable method. As the mother-bird interposes for her helpless young; as the ring-fence of fire intercepts the night attack of the wild beast: as the broad river and its streams bar the progress of the foe; as the arm of masonry protects the ships from the storm, so the Lord is round about His people forever!