God gave the Jews a great victory over the Philistines, their formidable enemies.
Three leaders were at the center of this victory.
Jonathan and Samuel acted confidently and clearly.
Saul was rash and gave self-justifying excuses.
Jonathan, the son of King Saul
As the battle begins in 1 Samuel 14 Jonathan asked guidance from God. He sought conditions that would disadvantage him if he and his armor bearer attacked the Philistine outpost.
God met the conditions and he attacked and overpowered the outpost. This small, strategic victory began the confusion and defeat of the Philistine army.
Jonathan was brave, sought God’s will, and responded decisively
Saul was in his camp when Jonathan took action.
His watchmen saw the confusion among the Philistines and Saul sought God’s will by consulting the high priest. As the priest was beginning to seek God, the action in the Philistine camp increased and Saul decided to move quickly. He told the priest to stop and ordered the troops to attack.
Events moved quickly. Jews who had defected to the Philistines turned on them. Jews who refused to leave their homes and stand with Saul joined the battle quickly. The Philistines were in total retreat. Saul did not want to miss an opportunity. He ordered that no one was to stop to eat that day with death as a consequence for those who disobeyed.
Jonathan had not heard of the order and ate some honey that he found pursuing the Philistines.
After the victory the troops would not let Saul execute his son.
Saul’s order was rash and Jonathan emerged as the real leader of the troops.
Samuel and Saul
After the victory God sent Samuel to Saul. God’s message to Saul was to conquer and destroy the Amalekites because of what they did to the Jews during their wilderness wanderings. They attacked the Jews when they were defenseless in the desert. God had said that they would later be judged for this.
Saul followed part of the instructions but kept some of the best spoil from the battle.
After Saul’s incomplete obedience and self-justification Samuel told him that God desires faithfulness more than burnt offerings and that he would be replaced as king.
Samuel calmly gave God’s instruction during this troubled time and did not accept Saul’s excuses.
Questions for consideration:
What do you do when God is taking too long to answer your legitimate requests and especially when you find out that others are getting quicker, clearer answers?
How do you maintain stability when events start spinning out of control?
How do you balance action and faithfulness in your relationship with God?
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