April 8th Israel routes the Philistines
16: And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another. 17: Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there. 18: And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel. 19: And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand. 20: And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. 21: Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. 22: Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle. 23: So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven.
Jonathan’s and Saul’s Oath
24: And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food. 25: And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground. 26: And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath. 27: But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened. 28: Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint. 29: Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey. 30: How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines? 31: And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint. 32: And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood. 33: Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day. 34: And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there. 35: And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD. 36: And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God. 37: And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day. 38: And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day. 39: For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him. 40: Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee. 41: Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped. 42: And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken. 43: Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die. 44: And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan. 45: And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
Saul’s Military leadership
46: Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place. 47: So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and 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: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them. 48: And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. 49: Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-shua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal: 50: And the name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul's uncle. 51: And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. 52: And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him.
1 Samuel 15 Saul’s second sin
1: Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. 2: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 4: And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. 5: And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. 6: And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye shewed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7: And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. 8: And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9: But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. 10: Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, 11: It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. 12: And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal. 13: And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. 14: And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? 15: And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. 16: Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. 17: And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? 18: And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. 19: Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? 20: And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21: But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. 22: And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. 24: And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. 25: Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. 26: And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27: And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28: And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. 29: And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. 30: Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God. 31: So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD. 32: Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. 33: And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. 34: Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul. 35: And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Already we have read of a sad part of Israel’s history, the first king anointed by Samuel looses his kingdom after only two years. It will be another 38 years before he dies and hands his kingdom over but he has lost it with the LORD. We read today that Israel routs the Philistines but Saul makes the silly mistake of cursing his own son. Saul carried on establishing his kingdom and fighting against all his enemies yet he never obtained complete victory all his like. David who followed him would obtain what Saul spent all his life seeking and never found it. Then we read of Saul second major sin. When Saul had chased the enemy in the present battle he took a roll call and found that Jonathan and his amour bearer were missing. Saul set himself to battle array and called on the Lord and the Philistines were overcome in fear and panic. Even those Hebrews that were with the Philistines turned on them and those who were hiding on Mt Ephraim came to join the fight. Then Saul did the most foolish thing he said cursed be the man who eats food until all the battle is finished today, but Jonathan and his armour bearer were not present. None of Saul’s men ate any food. Then the army passed through a wood and honey dripped from a hive. Jonathan put his spear into the honey and tasted it and as soon as he did he realised what he had done. (Perhaps by divine revelation) Then one of the men explained the curse. Then Jonathan said my father has brought trouble into the land. The army continued the fight but the men were exhausted without food. So hungry that they found sheep and ate them without bleeding them and they ate them raw. Saul was told what they had done in sinning against the LORD. Saul insisted that they collect all the animals and eat them properly. Then he built an altar to the Lord. Then he said lets go and destroy the Philistines in a night attack. Saul enquired of the Lord but there was no answer. Then Saul made a lot to find out who had sinned against the Lord and the lot fell on Jonathan. Then Jonathan confessed his sin and Saul said you must die, But the people said, NO! Jonathan has won a great victory he must not die. Saul fought against all his enemies yet never got complete victory over them. Samuel came to Saul with a message from the LORD that he was to go and fight against the Amalekites. And he was not to spare man or beast. He had an army of 200,000 men and 10,000 of Judah. The battle was a complete success but Saul delivered the king and the best of the herds. Then the LORD spoke to Samuel saying l have changed my mind regarding Saul he has disobeyed me. Samuel was grieved and wept before the Lord all night. Then in the morning Samuel went to Saul. Saul said, blessed are you of the LORD l have done everything that the Lord said to me. But Samuel answered him in the famous words what is this bleating of sheep l hear and the lowing of Oxen? Then Saul said l have spared then to offer for sacrifice. Then Samuel said l will bring you a message from God tonight. On the following day Samuel brought the message of God to Saul. He said when you were little in your own sight – l made you head of the tribes and anointed you king of Israel. Then he reminded him of the specific instructions of the LORD. But you have done evil in the sight of the Lord. Then Samuel said is the Lord more delighted in sacrifice or obedience? To obey is better than sacrifice. To listen to the Lord is better than offerings of fat to the Lord. Rebellion is like witchcraft and stubbornness is an iniquity like idolatry. Now because you have rejected the word of the LORD, the LORD has rejected you as king of Israel. Saul said l have sinned, pardon me of my sin. But Samuel said to Saul I will not pardon you your sin, because you have rejected the word of the LORD. Samuel turned a leave but Saul took hold of his cloak and it tore in his hand. Then Samuel said God will tear the kingdom from you. Saul pleaded for Samuel to stay and they worshipped the LORD then Samuel called for the King Agag. Agag came gingerly saying surely the bitterness of death is passed. Then Samuel said because your sword has made women childless so shall your mother be childless among women. And Samuel killed Agag cutting him into pieces before the Lord. Samuel then left Saul and never saw him again until the day of his death. Those who have authority on behalf of the Lord must take today’s reading as a serious lesson.