Today’s readings are: 1 Samuel 13-14
1 Samuel 13:4 In today’s passage, one translation says Israel had become obnoxious to the Philistines. I thought this was strange so I checked out some other translations and a more common interpretation was “abomination” but I encourage you to dig in for yourself. Either way, what they are referring to is that Saul stirred them up, kicking a hornet’s nest so to speak, in order to get them good and fired up so that he could get the Israelites good and fired up to fight for him.
Sidenote that is always helpful:
Sometimes when a chapter doesn’t start out making sense it is helpful to go back and read the previous chapter and then continue into that next chapter. Remember that chapter and verse numbers were not part of the original text and it often happens that text is divided in awkward places that disrupts rather than helps the flow of a story, making it appear to be two different sections when it was originally written as one. It is surprising how many times doing this simple thing helps the text to make so much more sense.
We open today with Saul picking fights with the Philistines, putting himself and his soldiers in precarious situations, and then deciding he might wanna think about seeking God’s favor and blessing. Umm, yeah, Saul, good idea.
But he takes this further because Samuel does not arrive in what Saul deems to be a timely fashion so he decides to take matters in his hands again (as he did with going off to battle) and make the sacrifice himself, rather than to wait on YHWH’s priest to do it. Note that only priests were allowed to make sacrifices and this had been made very clear so in doing this Saul showed a complete disregard for YHWH’s ordinances. This can be seen as a “This doesn’t apply to me because I’m special” type attitude.
13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of YHWH your God, with which he commanded you. For then YHWH would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. YHWH has sought out a man after his own heart, and YHWH has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what YHWH commanded you.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14
Now, I want us to be mindful of something here. There is a temptation for us to see this as harsh on the part of YHWH and I want to urge you to move past that because that is the worldliness in us telling us to feel that way. Move past the feelings and into the wisdom of YHWH. How many times has He shown us that DETAILS MATTER TO YHWH? How many times have we seen it? When He says don’t do something, He doesn’t mean don’t do it until you really really want to do it. When He says to obey Him, He doesn’t mean to obey Him only if it feels right to you. DETAILS MATTER TO YHWH – and He has given us those details repetitively, through His words and examples and words again. When a parent tells a child to do or not do something time and time again, and that child chooses to disregard that directive, the hammer will come down.
We go on to see Jonathan has more faith in YHWH than His father, and YHWH responds accordingly.
I just want to point out that the vow Saul made his soldiers take not to eat, drink, or rest until he had finished taking vengeance on his enemies was a rash, impulsive, and unwise vow. It showed no regard for his men. Further, notice that in 1 Samuel 14:24 Saul said they weren’t to eat until HE had taken vengeance on HIS enemies. This was not a mission for YHWH, nor was it sanctioned by Him.
When we later see Jonathan eating the honey he was not breaking any vow. Since he was not around when his father inflicted it on the men so not only did he not hear it, he did not agree to it either. This was just one more of the immeasurable gifts of grace from YHWH.
Why did people suddenly start killing animals? Saul had worked them hard and not given them food, drink, or rest. The vow had been for that day and once evening came, it was a new day for them. Clearly, they were ready for some food! They were so hungry, in fact, that they did not take time to properly drain each animal of the blood, which is a commandment from YHWH. (Lev 17:10) The people of Israel no doubt knew this was a sin but they had been worked up into such a hunger that they did not care at this point. While they were still responsible for their own sin, their leadership (Saul) also bears the responsibility of this as well.
The stone Saul had brought was for the animals to be killed on, if you laid an animal upon it and slit it’s throat you could hang the head off the edge and the blood would drain properly. Anyone who has butchered an animal knows this is a fairly simple process.
I’ll leave you with this challenge and promise. Write the following verse down today and post a picture on the comment thread in the fellowship group. When you’re done, tuck it away in your Bible as a blessing to find another day.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you ~1 Chronicles 28:9