1 Samuel 14:24-52
24 The men of Israel became very hungry that day. That’s because Saul had put the army under an oath. He had said, “None of you must eat any food before evening comes. You must not eat until I’ve paid my enemies back for what they did. If you do, may you be under a curse!” So none of the troops ate any food at all. 25 The whole army entered the woods. There was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey dripping out of a honeycomb. No one put any of the honey in his mouth. That’s because they were afraid of the oath. 27 But Jonathan hadn’t heard that his father had put the army under an oath. Jonathan had a long stick in his hand. He reached out and dipped the end of it into the honeycomb. He put some honey in his mouth. It gave him new life. 28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father put the army under a strong oath. He said, ‘None of you must eat any food today. If you do, may you be under a curse!’ That’s why the men are weak and ready to faint.” 29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how I gained new life after I tasted a little of this honey. 30 Our soldiers took food from their enemies today. Suppose they had eaten some of it. How much better off they would have been! Even more Philistines would have been killed.” 31 That day the men of Israel struck the Philistines down. They killed them from Micmash to Aijalon. By that time they were tired and worn out. 32 They grabbed what they had taken from their enemies. They killed some of the sheep, cattle and calves right there on the ground. They ate the meat while the blood was still in it. 33 Then someone said to Saul, “Look! The men are sinning against the Lord. They’re eating meat that still has blood in it.” Saul said to them, “You have broken your promise. Roll a large stone over here at once.” 34 He continued, “Go out among the men. Tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep. Kill them here and eat them. Don’t sin against the Lord by eating meat that still has blood in it.’” So that night everyone brought the ox he had taken and killed it there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to honor the Lord. It was the first time he had done that. 36 Saul said, “Let’s go down after the Philistines tonight. Let’s not leave even one of them alive. Let’s take everything they have before it gets light.” “Do what you think is best,” they replied. But the priest said, “Let’s ask God for advice first.” 37 So Saul asked God, “Should I go down after the Philistines? Will you hand them over to Israel?” But God didn’t answer him that day. 38 Saul said to the leaders of the army, “Come here. Let’s find out what sin has been committed today. 39 You can be sure that the Lord who saves Israel lives. And you can be just as sure that the sinner must die. He must die even if he’s my son Jonathan.” But no one said anything. 40 Then Saul spoke to all of Israel’s men. He said, “You stand over there. I and my son Jonathan will stand over here.” “Do what you think is best,” the men replied. 41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel. He said, “Give me an answer.” Jonathan and Saul were chosen by using lots. The other men were cleared of blame. 42 Saul said, “Cast the lot to find out whether I or my son Jonathan is to blame.” And Jonathan was chosen. 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I only used the end of my stick to get a little honey and taste it. And now do I have to die?” 44 Saul said, “Jonathan, I must certainly put you to death. If I don’t, may God punish me greatly.” 45 But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan be put to death? Never! He has saved Israel in a wonderful way. He did it today with God’s help. You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that not even one hair on Jonathan’s head will fall to the ground.” So the men saved Jonathan. He wasn’t put to death. 46 Then Saul stopped chasing the Philistines. They went back to their own land. 47 After Saul’s kingdom was set firmly in place in Israel, he fought against their enemies who were all around them. He went to war against Moab, Ammon and Edom. He fought against the kings of Zobah and the Philistines. No matter where he went, he punished his enemies. 48 He fought bravely. He won the battle over the Amalekites. He saved Israel from the power of those who had carried off what belonged to Israel. 49 Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. His older daughter was named Merab. His younger daughter was named Michal. 50 Saul’s wife was named Ahinoam. She was the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of Saul’s army was named Abner. He was the son of Ner. Ner was Saul’s uncle. 51 Saul’s father Kish and Abner’s father Ner were sons of Abiel. 52 As long as Saul was king, he had to fight hard against the Philistines. So every time Saul saw a strong or brave man, he took him into his army.
Saul makes a rash curse that is not heard by everyone, including his son Jonathan. The Lord takes his curse seriously. So when
Jonathan eats some honey the soldiers let him know of his father’s curse.
Jonathan is aghast. He cannot believe the rashness of Saul and the unnecessary nature of the curse.
Saul wants to attack the Philistines and enquires of the Lord, who is silent. Saul knows that the silence of God is a signal for sin in the camp. So he asks who has seen, declaring, again rashly, that whoever it is they will be put to death. The lots fall to Jonathan! Saul declares he should die!
This is one of those incidents where principle and foolishness mix. That Saul wants to fulfil his declaration to God is admirable, but his declaration was foolish.
As leaders we must watch what we say and when we say it. We need not make rash pronouncements simply say what is necessary and generally keep tight lipped.
Father help us to lead in ways that bring honour to you and build those who we are leading as well as achieve the destiny you placed us here for!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta