1 Samuel 14:24-52
Saul’s Foolish Order
But the men of Israel were hard-pressed that day, because Saul had put the people under a curse, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening, and before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people ate any food. All the people of the land came to a forest, and there was honey on the ground. When the people entered the forest, the honey was dripping, but no man put his hand to his mouth [to taste it], because the people feared the oath [of Saul]. But Jonathan had not heard when his father put the people under the oath. So he put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into a honeycomb, and then he put his hand to his mouth, and his [a]energy was restored. But one of the people told him, “Your father strictly put the people under an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food today.’” And the people were exhausted [and hungry]. Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land [with his foolish curse]. See how my [b]energy is restored because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better [it would have been] if only the people had eaten freely today from the spoil of their enemies which they found! For now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”
They struck the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very tired. [When night came and the oath ended] the people rushed greedily upon the spoil. They took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and they ate them [raw] with the blood [still in them]. Then Saul was told, “Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating [the meat] with the blood.” And he said, “You have violated [the Law] and acted treacherously; roll a large stone to me today.” Saul said, “Spread out among the people and tell them, ‘Each one of you bring me his ox or his sheep, and butcher it [properly] here and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating [the meat with] the blood.’” So that night each one brought his ox with him and butchered it there. And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.
Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them [alive].” They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let us approach God here.” Saul asked [counsel] of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You hand them over to Israel?” But He did not answer him that day. Then Saul said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the people, and let us find out how this sin [causing God’s silence] happened today. For as the Lord lives, who saves Israel, for even if the guilt is in my son Jonathan, he shall most certainly die.” But not one of all the people answered him. Then he said to all the Israelites, “[c]You shall be on one side; I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.” The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” Therefore, Saul said to the Lord, the God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot [identifying the transgressor].” Then Saul and Jonathan were selected [by lot], but the other men went free. Saul said, “Cast [lots] between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was selected.
Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die!” Saul answered, “May God do so [to me], and more also [if I do not keep my word], for you shall most certainly die, Jonathan.” But the people said to Saul, “Must Jonathan, who has brought about this great victory in Israel, be put to death? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan and he was not put to death. Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place.
When Saul assumed control of the kingdom of Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side: Moab, the sons (descendants) of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment. He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and rescued Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.
Now Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchi-shua. The names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger, Michal. The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of his army was named Abner, the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
Now the war against the Philistines was severe (brutal, relentless) all the days of Saul; and whenever Saul saw any mighty or courageous man, he recruited him for his staff.
- 1 Samuel 14:27 Lit eyes brightened.
- 1 Samuel 14:29 Lit eyes have brightened.
- 1 Samuel 14:40 To identify the guilty party, Saul decided to have lots cast, which was a common and accepted means of finding God’s will. It may be that the Urim and Thummim that were kept in the priest’s breastpiece were used for this purpose (Ex 28:30). Saul chose to narrow the search by first separating Jonathan and himself from the rest of the people, only to discover (v 41) that the people were in fact innocent.
1 Samuel 15
Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now listen and pay close attention to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts (armies), ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way when Israel came up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and completely destroy everything that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
So Saul summoned the people and numbered them at Telaim—200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah. Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley. Saul said to the [a]Kenites, “Go, leave, go down from the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they went up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, though he totally destroyed all [the rest of] the people with the sword. Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and everything that was good, and they were not willing to destroy them entirely; but everything that was undesirable or worthless they destroyed completely.
Samuel Rebukes Saul
Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned away from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” Samuel was angry [over Saul’s failure] and he cried out to the Lord all night. When Samuel got up early in the morning to meet Saul, he was told, “Saul came to [b]Carmel, and behold, he set up for himself a monument [commemorating his victory], then he turned and went on and went down to Gilgal.” So Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord. I have carried out the command of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen [c]to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have destroyed completely.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” Saul said to him, “Speak.”
Samuel said, “Is it not true that even though you were small (insignificant) in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, totally destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are eliminated.’ Why did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but [instead] swooped down on the plunder [with shouts of victory] and did evil in the sight of the Lord?”
Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have completely destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things [that were] to be totally destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed [is better] than the fat of rams.
“For rebellion is as [serious as] the sin of divination (fortune-telling),
And disobedience is as [serious as] false religion and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected [d]you as king.”
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now, please, pardon my sin and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go [away], Saul grabbed the hem of his robe [to stop him], and it tore. So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. Also the Splendor and Glory and Eminence of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” Saul said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” So Samuel went back following Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him [e]cheerfully. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death has come to an end.” Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel cut Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.
Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:6 Moses’ father-in-law and his wife were Kenites. The Kenites were a nomadic people related to the Midianites and they had traditionally been friendly with the children of Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:12 A city located about seven miles south of Hebron.
- 1 Samuel 15:15 This lie was a thinly-disguised attempt to justify disobedience to God.
- 1 Samuel 15:23 The passage does not say that God rejected Saul, the man, but rejected his being king of Israel.
- 1 Samuel 15:32 Or in chains.