1 Samuel 14:15-23 - Victory Over The Philistines
Once again Jonathan gains a great victory, but Saul takes the credit for it and reveals his jealousy. We read in this chapter that he actually would have destroyed his own son! Chapter 14 gives us the strategy of battle that Jonathan used against the Philistines. Tonight, we will see the results of a strong, fearless faith.
A. God Attacks The Philistines
1. There Was Trembling Among The Philistines (v.15).
a) In the camp, field, among the people (v.15a).
(1) The Philistines reaction to this stressful situation was that of “trembling”.
(2) Most occurrences of trembling refer to an emotional agitation before an unusual circumstance.
Isaac trembled when he learned that his own son deceived him: "Now it happened, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also had made savory food, and brought it to his father, and said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that your soul may bless me.” And his father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” So he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled exceedingly, and said, “Who? Where is the one who hunted game and brought it to me? I ate all of it before you came, and I have blessed him— and indeed he shall be blessed.”" (Genesis 27:30-33)
(3) It can also describe a military force either as discouraged (I Sam.13: 7) or as broken into outright panic (ISam.14: 15) as we see here in this passage.
Eli’s anxiety concerning the ark, cause his heart to tremble: "Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the sound of this tumult mean?” And the man came quickly and told Eli. Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see. Then the man said to Eli, “I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.” And he said, “What happened, my son?” So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.” Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died" (1 Samuel 4:11-18, NKJV)
(4) Four passages speak of trembling before God’s word or commandment.
The Lord says: "On this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. " (Isaiah 66:2,5 NKJV)
When Ezra got news about God’s people not separating themselves he said: "The leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.” So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice." (Ezra 9:1-4, NKJV)
Ezra encourages them to act on God’s Word: "Now while Ezra was praying, and while he was confessing, weeping, and bowing down before the house of God, a very large assembly of men, women, and children gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept very bitterly. And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, “We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law." (Ezra 10:1-3, NKJV)
b) Working Out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil.2:12)
(1) We Need To Understand The Consequences Of Sin.
(2) Knowing that we serve a holy and just God, we should always live with fear and trembling.
(a) Fear translates phobos, which describes fright or terror (Matt.14:26; Luke 21:26; 1 Cor.2:3) as well as reverential awe (Acts 2:43; 9:31; 2Cor. 5:11; 7:1).
(b) Trembling is from tromos, which refers to shaking and is the word from which the English word tremor derives.
(c) Both fearing and trembling are proper reactions to the awareness of one’s own spiritual weakness and the power of temptation and wanting to do what is right (Rom.7:14ff).
2. The Result of Jonathan’s strong, fearless faith (v.15).
a) Panic Struck the Philistine Army, the garrison and the raiders trembled (v.15)
(1) So the Philistines were terrified and panic struck. It seems that the Philistines, were under a divine confusion:
Remember back in Chapter 7 as "Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel." (1 Samuel 7:10, NKJV)
(2) They must have woke up with the thought,”We being attacked by our enemies.”
(3) Thinking their fellow Philistines were there enemies, they began to fight & kill each other.
(4) How did God do this? Possibly God blinded their eyes or their minds, that they could not distinguish friends from foes.
When Gideon fought against the Midianites God gave him victory: "When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp” (Judges 7:22, NKJV)
When “Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha." (2 Kings 6:18; 2Chron.20:23)
Our enemy, Satan, wants us (the church) to fight with each other as well: "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?" (James 3:13-4:1, NKJV)
b) God Sent An Earthquake—The Earth Quaked, with a great trembling (v.15b).
(1) What Jonathan could not do, God would do. Jonathan and his armor bearer had done their part. Now God was doing his part.
(2) Jonathan could use his heart and his sword, and he did. But what Jonathan could not do - send a great earthquake to terrify the Philistines - God did.
(3) Often we wait around for God to do what we can do. God will often do miracles (what He alone can do) if we will do what we can do.
Thought 1: A weak, wavering faith leads to a defeated life.
(1) If we have no faith, we have no hope. Without faith, without believing in the future, there is no purpose, meaning, or significance in life.
(2) But a strong, fearless faith brings a spiritual rest. When Scripture speaks of God's spiritual rest it means a spirit of confidence, assurance, purpose, hope, fulfillment, satisfaction.
(3) God warns us against weak and wavering faith. If we are gripped by unbelief and doubt, we will miss the spiritual rest promised by God.
The writer of Hebrews says, "Since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word, which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world." (Hebrews 4:1-3, NKJV)
The writer continues by saying in v.11, "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:11, NKJV)
When Jesus came back to His own home town & began teaching them, Matthew says, "that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? “And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:54-58, NASB95)
Mark says in his gospel that, "He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching." (Mark 6:5-6, NASB95)
Thought 2: Faith Leads To Obedience.
(1) 2 Kings 5:1-14—Naaman’s Faith Healed Him.
(2) John 4:46-54—Jesus heals the Nobleman’s son.
Jesus said that "All things are possible to him who believes " (Mark 9:23, NASB95)
Thought 3. God Give Promises To Those Who Believe.
(1) God Promises Eternal Life To Those Who Believe.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. " (John 3:15-16, NASB95)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." (John 5:24, NASB95)
"Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” " (John 11:25-26, NASB95)
(2) God Promises Peace to Those Who Believe.
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, " (Romans 5:1, NASB95)
"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. " (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV)
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV)
B. Saul Learns Of The Battle (v.16-19).
1. The Multitude was melting away (v.16-17)
a) They went here and there.
(1) Imagine what the watchmen of Israel felt like! They were keeping an eye on the huge army and then they were melting away.
So great in power is the Lord, that the earth melts when he touches the land "The Lord God of hosts, He who touches the earth and it melts, And all who dwell there mourn" (Amos 9:5, NKJV)
b) Saul took a roll call (v.17).
2. Saul Is Trying To Look Spiritual (v.18).
a) Bring the ark of God here.
(1) Why? What for purpose does he want the ark?
(2) Saul is probably trying to look spiritual here, but what did he need to seek God about? There is a time to go aside and pray, and there is a time to get your sword out and fight. Saul didn’t know what time it was!
(3) The LXX Septuagint—an ancient translation of the Old Testament into Greek reads “ephod” instead of “ark,” and this seems more likely since the ark was at Kirjath Jearim.
(4) Later in (v.37) Saul seeks God but God does not answer him. This is totally different then when David sought the Lord:
In 1 Sam.30 David sought the Lord "Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”" (1 Samuel 30:7-8, NKJV)
b) Get The Ark That It May Save Us (1Sam.4:1-10).
(1) The Elders were right in realizing they needed God to win the battle (1Sam.4:3), but their mistake was they imagined that the symbol of God’s presence, the ark, would make God work for them & give them victory.
(2) Their Idea Was That God Should Be Forced To Fight For Them.
(a) They are tempting God. This is the very thing Satan tempted Jesus to do, trying to “force” God into a miracle by suggesting Jesus leap off the pinnacle of the temple.
(b) They Are Looking To The Ark To Save Them And Not To The Lord.
(c) They Forgot The Main Thing, Which Is That God, Is To Be Enthroned In Our Life.
(3) The Presence of God was not with Saul.
Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”" (1 Samuel 13:13-14, NKJV)
God threatened to remove His presence from His people in Exodus, Why? Sin! "Then the Lord said to Moses, “Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”" (Exodus 33:1-3, also vv.4ff)
"Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." (Exodus 33:12-15, NKJV)
c) Many are like Sampson (Judges 16:15-20).
(1) They are not aware that the Spirit of God has departed from them.
(2) We Must Not Have A Form of Godliness (2 Timothy 3:5): The ark was the sacred place where God revealed himself in the days when his people truly served him; but it was devoid of power, without the presence of him who dwelt between the cherubim.
(a) Don’t trust in “church attendance” A Man Must Be Born again (John 3:3)
(b) Don’t trust in your fasting and giving tithes of all you possess (Luke 18:12)
(c) Jesus condemned the Pharisees (Matt.23:25ff. cf. John 5:39)
(d) How Highly Do You Value The Presence Of God In Your Life?
3. The Commotion Continued In the Camp (v.19).
a) Saul would not know what to do.
(1) It is strange that at this moment, Saul would not know what to do. His insecurity and fear and self-focus have paralyzed him. It was time to fight. But eventually, the noise of God and Jonathan fighting against the Philistines becomes so loud, that Saul knows he has to fight to. So, he tells the priest “Withdraw your hand.” This means, “Stop seeking and answer from God with the urim and thummin,” which were held in a pouch in the priest’s breastplate.
4. Saul Fights In The Battle And A Great Victory Is Won (v.20-23).
a) They went to battle (v.20a).
(1) No Believer is Exempt From Spiritual Warfare (Eph.6:10-13).
(a) Jesus’ Encountered Warfare:
(i) Jesus’ ministry began with spiritual Warfare with a battle with Satan that lasted forty days:
"Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry." (Luke 4:1-2, NKJV)
(ii) Jesus’ ministry ended with spiritual warfare in the Garden of Gethsemane with such great force that He sweat great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). We must remember that Satan will intensify his efforts against those who continue to effectively serve the Lord. As, believers grow stronger, so will Satan’s attacks.
(2) Christians Encounter Warfare.
(a) As Christians we must remember that we are in a battleground not a playground. We are in God’s Army and we are to be good soldiers suffering for Christ and as a soldier are job is to fight the enemy:
"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." (2 Timothy 2:3-4, NKJV)
(3) Christians have Divine protection (2 Kings 6:8-17).
The Psalmist says, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. " (Psalm 34:7, NASB95)
Jesus said to His disciples in Luke “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. “ Yet not a hair of your head will perish. " (Luke 21:15-18, NASB95)
(4) It has taken a long time for Saul, the leader of Israel, to start leading. Now he is following God and Jonathan into Battle.
(5) Why was Saul sitting under a pomegranate tree (v.2) when Jonathan was boldly trusting God? Could it have been a fear of failing? I suspect it could have been. Now he sees the battle being won, it seems like a sure thing.
(a) Many times we don’t step out in bold faith in God because we are fearful of failing the Lord.
(b) I Challenge You. God out and do something bold, if you fail and God wasn’t really with it the way you thought He would be, then you have at least tried. Don’t be an armchair quarterback, or a backseat driver.
(c) Don’t hold back from doing something that God would want you to do.
b) The Hebrew Deserters (v.21-22).
(1) These were the sell-outs. They had forsaken Israel and supported the Philistines when it seemed Israel was a “loser” and the Philistines were the “winners.”
(2) All the men of Israel followed hard after them. These are the ones who, when oppression became very severe, simply fled (1Sam.13:6-7). They turned back.
(3) In Ephesians 6, the Armor of God, our entire armory is in front of us, there is no protection on our backs.
(4) There are three types of people we have talked about:
(a) The hold backs (v.20). They entered the battle when the odds were in their favor.
(b) The sell outs (v.21). They chose to support the Philistines when Israel was losing.
(c) The hide outs (v.22). They split in tough times, & came out when the odds were better
c) The Lord Saved Israel (v.23).
(1) The Battle Belongs To the Lord.
Joshua had encouraging words from Moses as he was to lead his men against the persistant forces of evil in the promised land: "And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms through which you pass. You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.’" (Deuteronomy 3:21-22, NKJV)
As the enemy bore down on Judah, God spoke through Jahaziel: "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s." (2 Chronicles 20:15, NKJV)
Remember the battle between David and Goliath? "Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”" (1 Samuel 17:45-47, NKJV)
Paul writing to Timothy said, "The Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:17-18, NKJV)
(a) We may not fight an enemy army, but every day we battle temptation, pressure, and “rulers. . . of this dark world” (Ephes. 6:12) who want us to rebel against God. Remember, as believers, we have God’s Spirit in us. If we ask for God’s help when we face struggles, God will fight for us. And God always triumphs.
(b) How Do We Let God Fight For Us?
(i) by realizing the battle is not ours, but God’s
(ii) by recognizing human limitations and allowing God’s strength to work through our fears and weaknesses
(iii) by making sure we are pursuing God’s interests and not just our own selfish desires
(iv) by asking God for help in our daily battles.
(2) God really used Jonathan, but it wasn’t Jonathan’s victory. It was the LORD’s victory. God was just waiting for someone with the bold trust of Jonathan!
The Palmist wrote, "For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me. But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever. " (Psalm 44:6-8, NASB95)
(3) We need to be careful not to look at men, but at God:
Miracles were performed at Ephesus, & Acts 19 says "God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, " (Acts 19:11, NASB95)
"At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. " (Acts 5:12, NASB95)
Barnabas and Paul were careful to give the glory to God "All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles." (Acts 15:12, NASB95)
(4) Look at what the crowds saw in their own eyes (Acts 14:11-18).
C. Saul’s Foolish Oath And Its Consequences.
1. Saul compels the army of Israel under an oath (v.24).
a) Saul had placed the people under an oath.
(1) Jonathan, in his bold trust in the LORD, had just struck a mighty blow against the Philistines. God had totally routed and confused the Philistine army. Now it was the job of the army of Israel, under King Saul, to finish the job by striking down the fleeing Philistine army. And on this day of battle against the Philistines, Saul declared a curse. “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.”
(2) On the surface, this sounds so spiritual. “Let’s set today aside as a special day of fasting unto the LORD. We want God to do a great work, so we should fast today. And I should enforce this among the whole army with a curse.” What could be wrong with that?
(3) How foolish to think that a sacrificial vow would give him victory when his heart was not right with God! He was later to learn, “To obey is better than to sacrifice.”
b) It was wrong because Saul’s focus was wrong.
(1) Saul is seeking personal revenge against the Philistines.
Notice his focus: before I have taken vengeance on my enemies. Saul wanted personal revenge because his focus was on himself. Saul shows that even in the midst of doing something spiritual like fasting, his focus is on himself, not the LORD. Saul’s desire is not the glory of God, but the glory of Saul. The focus here is not on the LORD, or on the LORD’s victory, but on Saul’s commanded fast.
(a) Revenge is forbidden by God:
Back in Leviticus the Lord has said, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself”: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18, NKJV)
Our hearts should not be glad when we see our enemy fall, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles" (Proverbs 24:17, NKJV)
When someone has done something to you, "Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” " (Proverbs 24:29, NKJV)
We should always pursue what is good, not evil, "See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all." (1 Thessalonians 5:15, NKJV)
Especially in the body of Christ, Christians are to "Be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9, NKJV)
(b) Revenge was rebuked by the Jesus (Luke 9:51-56).
(c) Intead of taking vengeance, we should:
(i) Trust in God (Proverbs 20:22)
(ii) Exhibit love (Luke 6:35)
(iii) Give place to wrath (Romans 12:17, 19)
(iv) Exercise forbearance (Mt 5:38-41)
(v) Bless (Ro 12:14; 1Pet.3:8-9)
(vi) Pursue what is good 1Thess.5:15).
(vii) Overcome others by kindness (Proverbs 25:21, 22)
(2) David was a man who would not take vengeance, nor let his men.
(a) 1 Samuel 24:1-10.
c) It was wrong because Saul’s motive was wrong.
(1) It is possible that Saul genuinely did something he thought would please God, but this is unlikely. It is more probable to see two darker motives behind Saul’s curse.
(a) He may have been acting out of a false spirituality. Before, when he first learned that the Philistine army was melting away, he “acted spiritual” by calling for the priest to bring the Ark of the Covenant and inquiring of God through the priest (1 Samuel 14:16-19).
(b) Or, Saul may have been acting out of insecurity, doing this to draw the focus on himself. Saul had been concerned with just who it was leading this attack (1 Samuel 14:17), because he knew the army and the nation would cherish this person as a hero. Now, through this curse, he puts the focus back on himself. That day, no one would be thinking much about Jonathan, because their hunger would always remind them of Saul’s curse.
(2) God Clealy Sees Both The Actions And The Intents (Motive) Of The Heart:
Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15).
Remember when Samuel went to annoint the one God was going to show him, "The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”" (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV)
(3) Our deeds must be done with the right motives (Matthew 6:1-18)
(4) How Can We Understand Our Real Motives?
(a) How we react to a moral dilemma often exposes our real motives (Genesis 27:1-12). Frequently we are more worried about getting caught than about doing what is right. If you are worried about getting caught, you are probably in a position that is less than honest. Let your fear of getting caught be a warning to do right.
(b) Problems with people are often clues that wrong motives are at work (James 4:1-3). Conflicts and disputes among believers are always harmful. James explains that these quarrels result from evil desires battling within us—we want more possessions, more money, higher status, and more recognition. We will even fight in order to fulfill these desires. Instead of aggressively grabbing what we want, we should submit ourselves to God, ask God to help us get rid of our selfish desires, and trust him to give us what we really need.
d) It was wrong because Saul’s sense of authority was wrong.
(1) Cursed is the man. Says who, Saul? Since when did you have the authority to proclaim such a curse? Are you now the spiritual leader of the nation? If any such fast was to be declared, and curse attached to it, the prophet Samuel had the spiritual authority to do it, not king Saul.
e) It was wrong because Saul’s promised punishment was wrong.
(1) Cursed is the man. That’s a little heavy handed, don’t you think? If Saul wanted to call for a voluntary fast, that was one thing. He might have said, “I’m fasting today before the LORD. I will not eat any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies. If anyone wants to join me, they are welcome.” But instead of leading by example and inviting the army of Israel to follow, he placed the people under an oath.
(2) We can imagine Saul standing before the whole army of Israel, and saying, “All right everyone. Raise your right hand and swear an oath before God” and then leading them in this forced, manipulated promise. Saul had probably left that assembly of the army thinking he had really done something (“What a great promise they all made!”). He had really done something all right; he had done something really bad. It is always wrong to place someone else under a promise or under an oath. If it isn’t on their heart to put themselves under the oath, it doesn’t do any good to force them under it.
f) It was wrong because Saul’s timing was wrong.
(1) The day of decisive battle is not the day to command the troops that they do not eat. They need the energy, and they need the focus on the job at hand. They don’t need the discouragement and the distraction of a forced fast. It was more important to achieve a complete victory over the Philistines that day. It’s not that there was anything wrong with fasting itself, but that it wasn’t the right time. It was Saul’s day to fast, not the LORD’s day to fast.
g) It was wrong because the result among the army of Israel was wrong.
(1) On this day of battle when the morale of Israel should have been the highest, and when the physical energy of Israel should have the strongest, instead the men of Israel were distressed that day. Because none of the people tasted food, the army was weak and discouraged on a day when they should have been strong and excited.
2. Jonathan unknowingly breaks the oath and is told of his offense (v.25-30).
a) The loyalty of the troops to Saul's command (1 Samuel 14:25-26).
(1) The troops saw plenty of honey throughout the forest, but they refused to eat, because they feared the oath Saul had placed them under.
(2) Sauls’ oath prevented them from receiving what God had put righ in front of them.
(a) I believe the honey on the ground was a provision from God. They were tired & hungry & the honey would have given the soldiers a kind of sugar – rush energy to carry on the battle, sort of like the energy bars we have today!
b) The Criticism from Jonathan about his father (v.27-30).
(1) Jonathan did not hear his father charge the oath.
(a) Did this mean that Jonathan did not know of the oath? Or, did he hear of the oath from others, but say to himself, “Well, since I wasn’t there, my father never charged me with this oath. I never heard him say any such thing.”
(2) My father has troubled the land:
(a) I don’t think Jonathan should have said this. There was a sense in which he was undercutting his father’s authority before the troops here
(i) This must never be done! If anyone talks trash about an authority figure, you must stand up for him.
(ii) If there were anything to say, it would have been best to say it to his father directly. However, despite all that, Jonathan was exactly right!
3. The soldiers of Israel sin because of Saul’s foolish command (v.31-35).
a) They ate the meat with the blood (v.32).
(1) This was far wors then breaking the vow that Saul had made. This was in direct violation of God’s law.
The Lord had said, "You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." (Genesis 9:4)
Moses writes in Leviticus, "And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’ “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’" (Leviticus 17:10-14; 3:17; 7:26).
(2) Because of Saul’s oath, the people were so hungry they broke this command. Their obedience to Saul’s foolish command led them to disobey God’s clear command. This is always the result of legalism:
Jesus said it plainly to the legalists of His day: For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men . . . All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. (Mark 7:8)
(3) We may think that legalistic rules will keep people from sin. The opposite is true. Legalistic rules lead us into sin, because they provoke our rebellion, or they lead us into legalistic pride.
Paul said it powerfully in Colossians, "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." (Colossians 2:23, NKJV)
b) Saul blames the people for what was really his own fault (v.33-35).
(1) He says, “you have dealt treacherously”.
(a) He should have never made such a foolish commandment, and his commandment provoked the people into sin. But in his pride, insecurity, and foolishness, Saul set the people up to sin.
(b) This does not excuse the sin of the people. They are accountable for their own sin before God. Yet Saul is also accountable. Jesus referred to this principle when He said, For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:7)
4. In response to God’s silence, Saul makes another foolish oath (v.36-39).
a) Drawing near to God (v.36)
(1) Saul’s impatience, was leading him to go down after the Philistines by night. However, the priest knew of Saul’s impatience (v.19) & properly couseled them to draw near to God, that is, to the altar, which Saul had just set up (v.35).
(2) The Nearness of God (James 4.8). Many commentators say this passage refers to:
(a) Worldly Christians needing to turn away from worldliness back to the faithfulness of God.
(b) Professing Christians to test their faith to find out whether it is genuine of false.
(3) One of the primary functions of Old Testament priests was to “come near to the Lord [and] consecrate themselves” (Ex. 19:22; Lev. 10:3; Ezek. 43:9; 44:13).
(a) Exodus 19:1-25 esp.v.22—The Lord Visits Sinai.
(b) Leviticus 10:1-11 esp.v.3—The Sin of Nadab and Abihu
Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who brings us to God, prayed to His Father, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” ( John 17:3 ).
And later affirmed and defined those who believe in Him, praying that they “may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (v. 21).
Above all else, the apostle Paul sought to “know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” ( Phil. 3:10 ).
(4) “Drawing near to God” was in the Old Testament a general expression for the one who sincerely approached God in penitence and humility.
Through Isaiah, the Lord said of those who came near Him hypocritically and superficially, “This people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” ( Isa. 29:13 ).
But the psalmist declared, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works” ( Ps. 73:28 ).
David assures us that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” ( Ps. 145:18 ).
He counseled his own son Solomon, “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” ( 1 Chron. 28:9 ; cf. 2 Chron. 15:1–2 ; Zech. 1:3 ).
Through Jeremiah, the Lord promised, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” ( Jer. 29:13 ).
The writer of Hebrews admonishes believers, “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. … Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” ( Heb. 4:16 ; 10:22 ).
In his message to the pagan philosophers on Mars Hill, Paul said, While I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist. (Acts 17:23–28).
(5) The redeemed heart longs for communion with God:
The Psalmist said, "When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.” " (Psalm 27:8).
Again, the Psalmist cries out saying, "O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. " (Psalm 63:1-2).
Yearning with a hear that sings for joy to God is a redeemed heart:"My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. " (Psalm 84:2)
Jesus Himself said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart , and with all your soul , and with all your mind .’ " (Matthew 22:37, NASB95)
b) Asking council of God (v.37).
(1) Saul inquired of the LORD through the priest. It is likely that the priest used the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the LORD.
(a) The names Urim and Thummim mean “Lights and Perfections.” We aren’t sure what they were or how they were used. Most think they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a “yes” or “no” from God. The High Priest would ask God a question, reach into the breastplate, and pull our either a “yes” or a “no.”
(b) On this occasion, the priest would probably start inquiring of the LORD with this question: “LORD, do you want to speak to us today?” Because we are told He did not answer him that day, probably when this question was asked, the stone that indicated “no” kept being drawn out.
(2) The Silence of God (v.37). The Silence of God and of the people (v.39) showed how foolish the oath really was. God did not answer this day him. This passage does not say why, but other Scriptures do:
(a) Disobedience—"When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. " (1 Samuel 28:6, NASB95)
(b) Secret Sin—If a person regards or holds iniquity in his heart, the Lord will not hear him (Psalms 66:18). Saul's carnal, selfish, distrustful heart had separated him from God.
(c) Neglect of Mercy—"He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered. " (Proverbs 21:13, NASB95)
(d) Iniquity—"But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." (Isaiah 59:2). "So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. " (Isaiah 1:15, NASB95)
c) The misguided conclusion (v.38-42).
God's refusing to answer Saul's prayer led Saul to a misguided conclusion: that there was some sinner in the camp, some person with whom the Lord was displeased.
(1) The command of Saul for the officers to launch an investigation: Vowed to execute the person, even if it was his own son Jonathan (v.39a)
(a) The officers said nothing (v.39b). They refused to exopose Jonathan’s violation.
(b) The guidance sought by Saul in exposing the sinner. (v.40-41a).
(i) By lining up the officers in front of him and Jonathan (v.40).
(ii) By praying and asking God to guide the casting of lots between them (v.41a)
(a) Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:24
(b) This reminds me of the Sin of Achin (Joshua 7:14).
(c) The lot fell upon Saul and Jonathan (v.41b)
(d) The lot then fell upon Jonathan (v.42). The lot falling upon Jonathan identified him as the guilty one.
5. Saul seeks to justify himself while condemning the innocent (v.43-46).
a) Jonathan's explanation (v.43).
(1) When Saul asked Jonathan what he had done, Jonathan replied that he had merely tasted a little honey on the end of his staff. Then Jonathan asked if such a small act deserved death.
(2) Keep in mind that Jonathan had never broken the vow because he was totally unaware of the vow his father had made in the first place.
b) Saul's attempt at self-justification: Even if it meant the execution of his son (v.44)
(1) Saul attempted to justify his oath by calling upon God to strike him (Saul) dead if he did not execute Jonathan.
(2) Hearing this, some of the troops and leaders came to the defense and rescue of Jonathan.
c) The troops' rescue of Jonathan (v.45)
(1) They argued the case before Saul:
(a) It was Jonathan who had brought about the great victory over the Philistines (v.45a).
(b) It was Jonathan who had worked with God.
(2) They insisted Jonathan not be executed (v.45b). They were defending Jonathan to the point that not even a hair of his head would be touched.
(3) They won the case: Saul was forced to withdraw his order, to let Jonathan live (v.45c)
d) Saul and the army withdrew from pursuing the enemy, returned home (v.46).
Zeal and diligence are to be traits deeply embedded within our lives. We are always to do the very best we can, demonstrating zeal and diligence. But knowledge is an absolute essential. We must know what should consume our lives, where to place our zeal and diligence. We must be zealous over that which is wise, diligent over that which is good. We must never give our hearts to that which is wicked, immoral, or unjust. We must be zealous for righteousness, morality, and justice.
(1) The zeal demonstrated by Christ is a dynamic example for us.
Jesus had a zeal of doing His Fathers work, "And He said to them, “ Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house? ” " (Luke 2:49, NASB95)
Remember the cleansing of the temple? Jesus "Made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “ Take these things away ; stop making My Father’s house a place of business .” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” " (John 2:15-17, NASB95)
He had a zeal for doing God’s will, He said to the disciples, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work . " (John 4:34, NASB95)
He had a zeal for doing God’s will while there was still time, "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. " (John 9:4, NASB95)
Jesus had a zeal for doing good, Peter said, "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. " (Acts 10:38, NASB95)
(2) God commands us to be zealous and diligent in all that we do.
Paul said "not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; " (Romans 12:11, NASB95)
We should be zealous for spiritual gifts, Paul said, "So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. " (1 Corinthians 14:12, NASB95)
Give our all in everything we do, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." (Colossians 3:17, NASB95)
Don’t be fearful; stir up what God had put in you, "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. " (2 Timothy 1:6, NASB95)
Peter even wrote about stiring us up by way of reminder (2Pet.1:1-13), "Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, " (2 Peter 1:12-13, NASB95)
As Christians we should be living in peace, "Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, " (2 Peter 3:14, NASB95)
The Scripures even speak of being zealous in repentance "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline ; therefore be zealous and repent . " (Revelation 3:19)
The writer of Proverbs says "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. " (Proverbs 10:4, NASB95)
Solomon wrote, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. " (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NASB95)
6. Saul's military victories over the enemies of Israel and his family line (v.47-52)
a) Saul's military victories (v.47-48)
(1) East: Moab, Ammon, Edom (v.47a)
(2) North: Kings of Zobah (v.47b)
(3) West: The Philistines (v.47c)
(4) South: The Amalekites (v.48)
b) Saul's family (v.49-51)
(1) His sons: Three listed here; one son, Abinadab, listed elsewhere (v.49a) 1 Samuel 31:2
(2) His two daughters (v.49b)
(3) His wife (v.50)
(4) His cousin Abner: Made commander of the armed forces (v.51)
c) Saul's most bitter enemies: The Philistines (v.52a)
(1) The Sripture says that there was a fierce war with the Philisitines all the days of his life.
d) Saul's answer to the continued threat of the Philistines: A permanent draft system (v.52b)
(1) Thought 1. Note that Saul never gained complete victory over the Philistines. They were a constant thorn in his side, continually oppressing the people of God. But the constant oppression did not have to be. If Saul and the Israelites had trusted the Lord, God would have given them permanent victory over their enemies.
(2) The lesson for us is clear: victory over all the enemies of life is possible. This is the promise of God. We can walk through all trials and problems of this life, no matter what they may be: