This rock wall marks the place where Mexican miners were massacred by Apaches.  Saul was about to see the first glimpse of his own end and massacre with a prophesy from Samuel…

THE CHALLENGE 

Saul will organize an army for Israel, and his son Jonathan will become a leader in battle.

Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.  And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.  And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.  1 Samuel 13:1-4

Saul’s son Jonathan seems to be a warrior, while Saul is tooting his own horn, getting credit for the victory.  Kings seem to be like the modern leadership model of our time.  A hard test of his leadership is coming next.

And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven.  When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.  And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.  And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.  1 Samuel 13:5-8

Israel responds with the fear we have come to expect of them.  But do we do any better today with all our New Testament knowledge?  Finances, health, and other spiritual battles still cause us anxiety today.  A serious military threat causes concern for nations everywhere.  Waiting for the prophet to discover God’s will is another test of patience.  Saul is not doing too well at exam time.

And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.  And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.  And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;  Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.  And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.  But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.  1 Samuel 13:9-14

Saul took upon himself the role of the priesthood, reserved for the Levites at that time.  Only Jesus was to be king, prophet, and priest to us.  The battle this day was shaping up, and the decisions made would have lasting impact.

And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.  And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.  And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:  And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.  1 Samuel 13:15-18 

Israel will have disadvantages because of controls the Philistine overlords had enforced.  Their weapons would be their farming implements for lack of metalworking facilities.

Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:  But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.  Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.  So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.  And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.  1 Samuel 13:19-23

Jonathan was confident in the Lord, and again took initiative to discover the enemy and their weaknesses.  He slipped away from the main Jewish army.

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.  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;  And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’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.  1 Samuel 14:1-3

Jonathan reasoned that God could help individuals as well as large groups.  He put this faith into action.

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.  The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.  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.  And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.  1 Samuel 14:4-7

Jonathan’s armor bearer shared his faith in God, and was ready to go to any need.  Married couples should have this shared confidence for the trials of daily life.  Jonathan proposes an adventure to test this friendship 

Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.  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.  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.  1 Samuel 14:8-10

Now can you see the source of Jonathan’s friendship with David?  They are both ready to take any challenge by faith, not by sight.  Two against the entire Philistine army?  It’s not out of the question if they get a sign from God.  So off they go, greeting the enemy guards.

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.  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.  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.  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.  1 Samuel 14:11-14 

So the enemy was amused at first, then they discovered they had their hands full with these two young men.  With the Holy Ghost empowerment they did battle like Samson, as Israel does even to this day, against ten to one odds.  The outbreak of fighting causes confusion among the enemy and Israel alike.

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.  And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.  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.  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.  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.  1 Samuel 14:15-19

Saul and his troops knew there was a battle, but they had not initiated it.  They discovered that his son was missing and likely in the center of the battle.  By now the Philistines confusion had them killing each other, delivering them to the host of Israel.  All the Jews who had run from battle came back to finish the job.

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.  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.  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.  So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.  1 Samuel 14:20-23

But there was still time to discover some failure in the face of victory.  Saul was a king, a political leader even more than a prophet.  In spite of spiritual gifts he could think like a politician.  He focuses on his revenge and misses the welfare of his people.  Today our leaders seem to think that our workforce is disposable.  Common sense is becoming an oxymoron.  Saul’s son will be trapped by an illogical decision.

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.  And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.  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.  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.  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.  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.  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?  1 Samuel 14:24-30

An army moves on its stomach.  Now the hunger moves the people to do something that is a sin against God instead of just breaking a king’s rule.  Saul sees his mistake now.

And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.  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.  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.  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.  1 Samuel 14:31-34 

Saul prepares to resume the battle with the sin removed, but still doesn’t know that his son had missed his orders.

And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.  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.  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.  And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.  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.  1 Samuel 14:35-39

No one betrayed Jonathan, but Saul prayed for revelation that exposed Jonathan. 

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.  Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.  And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.  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.  And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.  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. 1 Samuel 14:40-45

Jonathan did not sin by eating blood, but only a taste of honey, against only his father’s order.  The people knew he was innocent of any sin due to ignorance of his father’s order, and rescued him.  The war could continue now. 

Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.  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.  And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.  1 Samuel 14:46-48 

Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:  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.  And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.  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.  1 Samuel 14:49-52

With victory came more battles, and more recruiting for the army.  His advisors would soon bring him another valiant young man who would change history.

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