Samuel Judges Saul’s Sin
1Saul was 30 years old when he became king. He ruled over Israel for 42 years.
2 Saul chose 3,000 of Israel’s men. Two thousand of them were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel. One thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Saul sent the rest back to their homes.
3 Some Philistine soldiers were stationed at Geba. Jonathan attacked them. The other Philistines heard about it. Saul announced, “Let the Hebrew people hear about what has happened!” He had trumpets blown all through the land. 4 So all the Israelites heard the news. They were told, “Saul has attacked the Philistine army camp at Geba. Now the Philistines can’t stand the Israelites.” The Israelites were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.
5 The Philistines gathered together to fight against Israel. They had 3,000 chariots and 6,000 chariot drivers. Their soldiers were as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash. It was east of Beth Aven. 6 The Israelites saw that their army was in deep trouble. So they hid in caves. They hid among bushes and rocks. They also hid in pits and empty wells. 7 Some of them even went across the Jordan River. They went to the lands of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal. All the troops with him were shaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, just as Samuel had told him to. But Samuel didn’t come to Gilgal. And Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the friendship offerings.” Then he offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as Saul finished offering the sacrifice, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “I saw that the men were scattering. I saw that the Philistines were gathering together at Mikmash. You didn’t come when you said you would. 12 So I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down to attack me at Gilgal. And I haven’t asked the Lord for his blessing.’ So I felt I had to sacrifice the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You haven’t obeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. If you had, he would have made your kingdom secure over Israel for all time to come. 14 But now your kingdom won’t last. The Lord has already looked for a man who is dear to his heart. He has appointed him king of his people. That’s because you haven’t obeyed the Lord’s command.”
15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Saul counted the men who were with him. The total number was about 600.
Israel Doesn’t Have Weapons
16 Saul and his son Jonathan were staying in Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. The men who remained in the army were there with them. At the same time, the Philistines camped at Mikmash. 17 Three groups of soldiers went out from the Philistine camp to attack Israel. One group turned and went toward Ophrah in the area of Shual. 18 Another went toward Beth Horon. The third went toward the border that looked out over the Valley of Zeboim. That valley faces the desert.
19 There weren’t any blacksmiths in the whole land of Israel. That’s because the Philistines had said, “The Hebrews might hire them to make swords or spears!” 20 So all the Israelites had to go down to the Philistines. They had to go to them to get their plows, hoes, axes and sickles sharpened. 21 It cost a fourth of an ounce of silver to sharpen a plow or a hoe. It cost an eighth of an ounce to sharpen a pitchfork or an axe. That’s also what it cost to put new tips on the large sticks used to drive oxen.
22 So the Israelite soldiers went out to battle without swords or spears in their hands. That was true for all of Saul’s and Jonathan’s soldiers. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had those weapons.
Jonathan Attacks the Philistines
23 A group of Philistine soldiers had gone out to the pass at Mikmash.