April 7th 1 Samuel, 13
13v1-18 Saul’s first sin
1: Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, 2: Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent. 3: And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. 4: And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal. 5: And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven. 6: When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits. 7: And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. 8: And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9: And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. 10: And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. 11: And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; 12: Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. 13: And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. 14: But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. 15: And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men. 16: And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. 17: And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual: 18: And another company turned the way to Beth-horon: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
13v19-23 Israel lacks weapons
19: Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: 20: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. 21: Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. 22: So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. 23: And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
1 Samuel, 14
14v1-15 Jonathan’s daring attack
1: Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father. 2: And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; 3: And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, I-chabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD's priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone. 4: And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5: The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah. 6: And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. 7: And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. 8: Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. 9: If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. 10: But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. 11: And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. 12: And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. 13: And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him. 14: And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. 15: And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
In today’s Bible reading we see the beginning of Saul’s reign and of an early fateful battle in which Saul sins against the Lord. We also realise that Israel had a significant lack of effective weaponry with which to defend herself or fight. Then we read of Jonathan Saul faithful son who made a daring raid on the Philistines. The first year of Saul’s reign went ok but in the second year he found himself at war again with the Philistines. Saul had raised a small standing army of 3,000 men, of whom 2,000 were with him, in Michmash about ten miles north east of Jerusalem and 1,000 with Jonathan at Gibeah which was about 3 miles north of Jerusalem. Jonathan attacked a company of Philistines which were south west of Michmash by about 3 miles. When Saul sounded a trumpet the Whole of Israel gathered to him. And the Philistines also gathered for war. They had 30,000 chariots, 6,000 cavalry and infantry like the sand on the sea shore. When the Philistines came to battle the children of Israel hid themselves in caves and thickets. While Saul waited for Samuel he offered sacrifices to the Lord. But when Samuel arrived he said to Saul what have you done? (It was not permitted for kings to offer sacrifice) Samuel told him flatly that he had forfeited his kingdom because he had failed to keep the commandments of the LORD. He said the LORD will find another man who has the same mind as the LORD. Saul gathered 600 men to fight but the Philistines came in three groups and took spoil of the Israelites. The Philistines had enacted a policy of forbidding the Israelites to practice weapon making and the children of Israel had to go to the Philistines to sharpen their swords, axes etc. When battle commenced Israel was undefended being without weapons. One day Jonathan gathered his men, 600 in all and went to battle without telling his father about it. Jonathan said lets go to the Philistines maybe the LORD will fight for us – God is not restrained to save many or few. His faithful armour bearer said do everything in your heart Look l am with you. Jonathan went forward and killed 20 men and there was a great earthquake. And so Jonathan brought about a daring raid on the Philistines. Jonathan was a very brave man but God with him.