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Saturday, December 22, 2012

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At the time for imminent attack by the Philistines, Saul’s son, Jonathan, said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come let’s go over and take a look at the Philistine outpost to see how big it is.”  But Jonathan didn’t tell his father.  He wanted to test the strength of the Philistine garrison.


So he and his armor carrier made their way down the little rocky valley toward the Philistine outpost and let the Philistines see them.  Then Jonathan said to his young friend, “If they shout, ‘Wait there!’ We will wait and see what will happen.  If they shout, ‘Come on up!’ We’ll go up and the Lord will deliver them into our hands.”  When they heard the Philistines shout, “Come up!” the two of them climbed up on their hands and knees, and the fight began.  Jonathan and his young man killed twenty Philistines and suddenly the earth began to shake, brought on by the Lord.  The Philistines were frightened and scattered first in one direction and then in another.


When Saul’s watchmen saw this and reported it to Saul, he immediately asked his officers to count the troops to see how many troops were still with him.  That’s when they found that Jonathan and his armor carrier were missing.  Then Saul called for Ahijah, the priest to pray and ask the Lord for help.  While they were talking, the panic among the Philistines intensified.  Saul immediately ordered his men to attack, and as they neared the camp of the Philistines they found them in such panic that they were killing each other.  That day the Lord delivered Israel from the hands of their enemies.


Then Saul did a rash thing.  He ordered all his men to take an oath not to stop and eat anything, but to keep on pursuing the Philistines.  Jonathan didn’t know about this.  So when he came across wild honey in the forest he ate some to give him extra energy.  When one of the men told him about the oath, he responded, “My father did a very foolish thing.”  By evening the men were so starved that they killed some young cattle and ate the meat, blood and all, which the Israelites were forbidden to do.  Then Saul had the young priest pray and to ask God if he should pursue the Philistines into the night, but God didn’t answer.  Saul decided that the oath must have been broken and when he found out that his son had done so, he confronted him, and Jonathan admitted that he had eaten a little wild honey.  His father determined to kill him for it, but the army stood in defense of Jonathan and said to Saul, “It was because of him that we have defeated the Philistines.  We will not let you kill him!”  So Jonathan’s life was spared. 


While Saul could not claim the honor of victory over the Philistines, he hoped to at least be honored for his zeal to uphold the sacredness of an oath.  Then Saul began to feel that his son was preferred before him, both by the people and the Lord.  So he did not pursue the Philistines, but returned home moody and dissatisfied.


Like Saul, those who are most ready to excuse or justify themselves in sin are often the most severe in judging and condemning others.  Often those who are seeking to exalt self are brought into positions where their true character is revealed.  The Lord is very patient with such men to give them opportunities to repent, but while He may seem to prosper those who disregard his will, He will, in His own time, expose their sins (PP 625, 626).


Jack J. Blanco

Southern Adventist University