March 30, 2007
I Samuel 13-14
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- Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
- 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.
- 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;
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:
- But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.
- 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.
- 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.
- And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.
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- 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.
- 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;
- And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod'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.
- 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.
- The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
- 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.
- And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
- Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven.
- 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.
- And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD.
- 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.
- 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.
- And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.
- 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.
- 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.
- Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped.
- And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.
- 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.
- And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
- 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.
- Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.
- 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.
- And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.
- 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:
- 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.
- And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.
- 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.
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Thought for the day:
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two chapters have historical significance. They showcase the military skill of Jonathan, and reveal the sinfulness of Saul. At the end of
chapter thirteen there is a brief section that discusses the process by which the Israelites were able to get their tools sharpened. Though it is given as historical fact, when I read it I see something that I believe can have a spiritual application to our churches today.
Israel was still primarily an agricultural society. In order to get their daily work done so that they could survive, they had to have tools for plowing and cutting. So that the Jews could not make their own swords and spears, the Philistines had removed all the sharpeners from the country. A by-product of that decision was that any time a person's ax or saw blade got dull, he had to go to the enemy in order to get it sharpened. By doing this, the Philistines kept complete control over Israel, and kept the tools of warfare out of the hands of all but Saul and Jonathan.
As I read these verses, I see the danger that the New Testament church faces when it has to, or in most cases chooses to, go to the enemy to get its tools. What are the tools that the local church has to carry out its business, and fight against the wiles of the Devil? The first and most obvious one is the Sword of the Spirit; the Word of God. Without this tool there is no salvation, no edification, and no relationship with the Lord. Yet many churches have chosen to allow the enemy to sharpen this tool for them. By this I mean that they have abandoned the Text that was used by Bible-believing Christians down through the centuries, and have gone to the unsaved world to find out which version of the "Bible" they should read. Many have joined the "Bible of the Month" club, and snatch up new renderings of the Bible as soon as the secular publishing company can get them to the store shelf. Questions such as "What does your Bible say?" are heard throughout churches today as opposed to the "Thus saith the Lord" of past generations. When the Jews had to go to the Philistines because they no longer had any sharp weapons, they were in trouble. When the church surrenders the "sharper than any two-edged sword" (
Heb. 4:12) and has to depend upon the world for a dulled blade, it too is in dire straits.
The Word of God is not the only area that comes to mind. The church has allowed its Christ-honoring hymns to be taken away, and has replaced them with contemporary music that tends to worship experience over God, and has a distinctively secular sound to it. What are the origins of this style of music? Certainly not Biblical Christianity! The artists themselves will often tell you that their musical inspirations have come from ungodly sources. Since music is an important medium in worship, the Philistines once again have control over the tools of the church. Many modern church methodologies have been borrowed from liberal sources. Who first dropped the Sunday night service? The modernists. Who first went to more music and drama and less teaching? The modernists. Who first went from preaching to psychology? The modernists. Who first went to ambiguous church names? The modernists. Who first dropped their soul-winning programs? The modernists. Who first dropped their standards of personal holiness? The modernists. Substitute the word "Philistines" for "modernists", and you will see how the 21st century church finds itself in the same situation that the Jews did under Saul.
The enemy will never be defeated, and the church's work will never be completed without sharpened tools. The ungodly will never give us what we need. We must not allow them to be the possessors of swords and the sharpeners of tools, but rather we must prepare ourselves by looking unto God alone for what is necessary for success.
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery