Jonathan’s bold attack. Saul’s foolish oath. Jonathan in danger of death. Saul has a few victories.
VERSE 1. Now it fell on a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come! Let’s go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he didn’t tell his father.
Jonathan the son of Saul. Jonathan will be an important person in the life of David.
VERSE 2. Saul stayed in the uttermost part of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people who were with him were about six hundred men;
VERSE 3. including Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the LORD in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. The people didn’t know that Jonathan was gone.
VERSE 4. Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side, and a rocky crag on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
VERSE 5. The one crag rose up on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.
VERSE 6. Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come! Let’s go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us; for there is no restraint on the LORD to save by many or by few.”
NIV translation. Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”
these uncircumcised. This is a way to deride outsiders. It dates back to Samson:
Judges 14:3. Then his father and his mother said to him, “Isn’t there a woman among your brothers’ daughters, or among all my people, that you go to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”
It may be that the LORD will work. Jonathan takes a daring leap of faith, with no more assurance than “perhaps.” He says to his armor-bearer “Perhaps the LORD will work on our behalf.” That is great faith and great courage.
VERSE 7. His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Turn and, behold, I am with you according to your heart.”
NIV translation. “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
I am with you according to your heart. Jonathan’s armor-bearer is very loyal. He was with Jonathan’s plan, heart and soul, even though most people would not have been.
VERSE 8. Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will pass over to the men, and we will reveal ourselves to them.
VERSE 9. If they say this to us, ‘Wait until we come to you!’ then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up to them.
VERSE 10. But if they say this, ‘Come up to us!’ then we will go up; for the LORD has delivered them into our hand. This shall be the sign to us.”
the LORD has delivered them into our hand. This statement is filled with faith.
VERSE 11. Both of them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, “Behold, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they had hidden themselves!”
VERSE 12. The men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armor bearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something!” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me; for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel.”
the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel. We believe Jonathan spoke these words by faith. It is not likely that he would have known for certain what he said.
VERSE 13. Jonathan climbed up on his hands and on his feet, and his armor bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armor bearer killed them after him.
VERSE 14. That first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor bearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land.
That first slaughter … about twenty men. Jonathan was remarkably skilled in combat.
VERSE 15. There was a trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison, and the raiders, also trembled; and the earth quaked, so there was an exceedingly great trembling.
VERSE 16. The watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and behold, the multitude melted away and scattered.
VERSE 17. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count now, and see who is missing from us.” When they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there.
VERSE 18. Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring God’s ark here.” For God’s ark was with the children of Israel at that time.
Bring God’s ark here. Or “Bring the ephod here” (NAB translation). The ephod was used in consulting the LORD God.
VERSE 19. While Saul talked to the priest, the tumult that was in the camp of the Philistines went on and increased; and Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand!”
VERSE 20. Saul and all the people who were with him were gathered together, and came to the battle; and behold, they were all striking each other with their swords in very great confusion.
striking each other with their swords. By this point, the Philistines had already lost the battle.
VERSE 21. Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before, and who went up with them into the camp, from all around, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.
VERSE 22. Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
VERSE 23. So the LORD saved Israel that day; and the battle passed over by Beth Aven.
VERSE 24. The men of Israel were distressed that day; for Saul had adjured the people, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until it is evening, and I am avenged of my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.
Saul had adjured the people. That is, “Saul swore a very rash oath that day” (NAB translation).
Saul was too foolish and impulsive to be the leader of the nation. He said things rashly on the spur of the moment. He did not think through the consequences of his words and actions. He was a danger to himself and his nation.
VERSE 25. All the people came into the forest; and there was honey on the ground.
VERSE 26. When the people had come to the forest, behold, honey was dripping, but no one put his hand to his mouth; for the people feared the oath.
VERSE 27. But Jonathan didn’t hear when his father commanded the people with the oath. Therefore he put out the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened.
VERSE 28. Then one of the people answered, and said, “Your father directly commanded the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed is the man who eats food today.’ ” So the people were faint.
VERSE 29. Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. Please look how my eyes have brightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.
VERSE 30. How much more, if perhaps the people had eaten freely today of the plunder of their enemies which they found? For now there has been no great slaughter among the Philistines.”
VERSE 31. They struck the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. The people were very faint;
VERSE 32. and the people pounced on the plunder, and took sheep, cattle, and calves, and killed them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood.
ate them with the blood. They were forbidden from drinking the blood.
VERSE 33. Then they told Saul, saying, “Behold, the people are sinning against the LORD, in that they eat meat with the blood.” He said, “You have dealt treacherously. Roll a large stone to me today!”
VERSE 34. Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people, and tell them, ‘Every man bring me here his ox, and every man his sheep, and kill them here, and eat; and don’t sin against the LORD in eating meat with the blood.’ ” All the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and killed them there.
VERSE 35. Saul built an altar to the LORD. This was the first altar that he built to the LORD.
VERSE 36. Saul said, “Let’s go down after the Philistines by night, and take plunder among them until the morning light, and let’s not leave a man of them.” They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” Then the priest said, “Let’s draw near here to God.”
VERSE 37. Saul asked counsel of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you deliver them into the hand of Israel?” But he didn’t answer him that day.
VERSE 38. Saul said, “Draw near here, all you chiefs of the people; and know and see in which this sin has been today.
VERSE 39. For, as the LORD lives, who saves Israel, though it is in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him.
VERSE 40. Then he said to all Israel, “You be on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.”
VERSE 41. Therefore Saul said to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Show the right.” Jonathan and Saul were chosen, but the people escaped.
VERSE 42. Saul said, “Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son.” Jonathan was selected.
VERSE 43. Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done!” Jonathan told him, and said, “I certainly did taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand; and behold, I must die.”
you shall surely die, Jonathan. This is crazy-talk. Saul is off the rails.
VERSE 45. The people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today!” So the people rescued Jonathan, that he didn’t die.
the people rescued Jonathan. King Saul is way off the rails. His own people have to stop him from murdering his own son.
VERSE 46. Then Saul went up from following the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.
VERSE 47. Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned himself, he defeated them.
VERSE 48, He did valiantly, and struck the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.
VERSE 49. Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal.
2 Samuel 2:10. Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David.
VERSE 50. The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the captain of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.
VERSE 51. Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
VERSE 52. There was severe war against the Philistines all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any mighty man, or any valiant man, he took him into his service.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.