With God's Help

by LA UBF   03/02/2013     0 reads


1Samuel 14:24-52-Q.docx


1 Samuel 14:24-52

Key Verse 1 Samuel 14:45

But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.


Read verses 14:24-30.  Why are the men of Israel in distress? (24)  What does the army find the woods? (25-26a)   Why can they not touch the honey? (26b)  What happens to Jonathan when he eats the honey? (27)  When he hears of his father’s oath, how does he react to it? (28-30)



Read verses 14:31-36. What do the Israelites do after they defeat the Philistines? (31, 32)  When Saul is told what the soldiers are doing, what is his response? (33-34) What does Saul build for the first time? (35)  After Saul builds his first altar, what does he want to do? (36a)  According to the priest’s advice, what does he ask God before he pursues the Philistines? (36b, 37a)  Why does God not answer him that day? (37b)


Read verses 14:38-46.  What does Saul want to do when God does not answer? (38-40)  How does Saul find out that Jonathan had eaten? (41-42)  When Saul knows Jonathan had eaten the honey, how does he react? (43, 44)  How is Jonathan rescued from death? (45) How does this event affect the war against the Philistines? (46)



Read verses 14:47-52.  Who does Saul fight and inflict punishment on during his rule? (47, 48)   Who are Saul’s family members? (49, 50a) Who is the commander of Saul’s army and how is he related to Saul? (50b, 51)  What are the days like during Saul’s rule? (52)




1 Samuel 14:24-52

Key verse 1 Samuel 14:45

But the men said to Saul, "Should Jonathan die---he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God's help." So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.

In today's passage, Jonathan was almost put to death by his father although the Lord had used him to bring about a great deliverance. There was a lot of confusion among them. Through today's passage we can learn about working together with God's help. We might think that if we help each other, we could do really great things. How much more, then, if God helps us. But in this passage we see that despite God's help, it is possible that we would get in the way and make trouble for everyone and hinder that help. Have you ever tried helping someone, but they were going against your help? It happens to me often when I try to help my son. I am trying to help him, but he doesn't listen or does the opposite of what I tell him or he thinks my help is not good enough because he wants to go his own way. For example, I tell him his shoe is on the wrong foot, but he says, "No, it is not." Then he says, "Your shoe is on the wrong foot." Saul and the people were doing something similar in today's passage. And it was very dangerous. God's help means that he is helping us. So rather than be counter-productive, we can learn from this passage how to work together so that God can work great things in and through us.  

Look at verse 24.

Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, "Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!" So none of the troops tasted food.

In the previous passage we saw that they needed help. They didn't even have swords or spears, except for Saul and Jonathan. But God had helped them according to Jonathan's faith and action, and turned the battle in the favor of the Israelites. The Philistines were even attacking each other with their swords. It looked ridiculous. Israel was rescued, but the battle continued on. However, instead of being joyful and brave, the soldiers were now in "distress." They had received God's help, were winning the fight, yet were in distress. It was because of this oath that Saul had bound them to. It became the problem of the whole army and threatened the work of God among them. What happened? 

Saul lost sight of what this battle was all about. 

1. He "bound the people." He was supposed to "delivery his people." But instead he bound them under his oath.

2. The oath was his--it did not come from God. If he should bind them to anything, he should have bound them to God's word, rather than his own. The conditions were all about Saul. He said, "before *I* have avenged *myself* on *my* enemies." He did not mention about the Lord or the Lord's people. He lost sight of the battle as belonging to the Lord and for the Lord's purpose.

3. He brought a curse on the people for disobeying his word. Look how he elevated his own word like this. Once upon a time, when they had entered into the promised land, they had made a pledge to be cursed for disobeying the Lord. But now Saul put his own word so high. What a heavy burden to the people.

Look at verses 25-26.

[25] The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. [26] When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out, yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath.

The honey was right there. It was oozing out for them to eat and be refreshed. But they were afraid and didn't eat. The people suffered because of Saul. But they submitted to him and obeyed. After a long days work, I really look forward to dinner. It's so refreshing. It's hard sometimes to wait for dinner to be ready. 

Look at verse 27. 

But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.

Jonathan ate, not knowing about the oath. Rather than be cursed, he was renewed. Wow, who would have thought that eating after fighting and being exhausted would help? Everyone except Saul. 

Look at verses 28-30. 

[28] Then one of the soldiers told him, "Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, `Cursed be any man who eats food today!' That is why the men are faint." [29] Jonathan said, "My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. [30] How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?"

Jonathan recognized the trouble Saul had caused by binding the people to that oath. He was frustrated, yet submitted to his father. He didn't tell them to disobey. Jonathan saw that the victory could been enjoyable without the need to exhaust the people. He thought about what the Lord had provided and the people's condition. He didn't think about himself or arbitrary rules above the people or the Lord's provision. 

This is also where Saul made a mistake. He was proud and selfish. It is not hard to understand his intentions. He wanted them to keep going without giving up on defeating the enemies. He didn't want them to take a break or slow down, but get the full victory. It was to build up their commitment. 

But despite his intentions, he brought trouble to the country and made the soldiers faint when the soldiers needed to be strong and encouraged. 

It was self-imposed and not from God. 

Here we are warned against imposing ourselves as Saul did. Although we may have good intentions, binding people under such self-imposed rules can be harmful. What Saul forbade was actually what they needed the most to help them. For the sake of maintaining the Lord's work for the Lord's purpose, we can learn from Saul's mistake here.

We must be careful not to put ourselves at the center of the work and put the Lord out. It is not our fight for ourselves, but the Lord's for his purpose. 

One symptom we can see, from Saul's example, is making up our own rules. When we impose what is not from God we can make trouble. Think for a moment about all the rules you place on others. Is it from God, or from you?

In Jesus' day, he warned against this for the Pharisees and teachers of the law put themselves in the center of their activities and were burdening others. They became professional trouble makers. They displayed the symptom of Saul, which is imposing their own rules over God. 

For example, look at Matthew 15:1-9.

[1] Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, [2] "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!" [3] Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? [4] For God said, `Honor your father and mother' and `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' [5] But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, `Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' [6] he is not to `honor his father ' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. [7] You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: [8] " `These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. [9] They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. ' "

We are warned against becoming hypocrites and professional trouble makers who worship God in vain. These men carried the titles of "teachers of the law" and "scribes." They studied the Bible more than anyone. They were teachers of the law, not teachers of "suggestions." Yet, this is what happened to them. So we have to check our teaching to make sure that it comes from God. There is no rule, always eat when hungry. Sometimes it's good to go hungry. But we have to take ourselves out and apply God's word and learn God's heart, and care for his people according to his purpose. 

Jesus set a different example. He taught the word of God. He discipled them. But he did so with love and care. Jesus takes care of us and builds us up. Jesus taught the word of God. He did not impose his own way outside of the word of God. He trained, yet he gave them room to grow. 

If you have been following along in Daily Bread from 1 Peter, you see how steadfast Peter is. Even in the face of sufferings, he stood firm. He was so secure in Jesus, he could encourage and teach the church to also stand firm and rejoice in sufferings. He taught them to view sufferings as a blessing and a reason to praise God and be overjoyed! But he had not always been like this. He once denied knowing Jesus 3 times in one night out of his fear of death. He had once been shaken so easily. But through Jesus' care he could become such a steadfast and secure man and able to encourage the church members to follow Jesus' example in the time of sufferings. It is the miracle of the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. 

Then, at the end of 1 Peter, he tells the older how to shepherd the younger. It is not through lording it over them. It is not through laws and demanding. But it is through setting an example for them to follow. 

Peter didn't make an excuse about generation gaps or culture gaps. Peter saw the common foundation between older and younger that overcomes that. He said, in 1 Peter 5:1, "To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed." They had the common bond of witnesses of Jesus' sufferings and sharing in the glory to be revealed. This is not dependent upon age or culture. And to young men he told them to submit. like the men in the passage, submitting is good for us to work together and the Lord to help us. And he says all to be humble, whether in setting an example or submitting to one another. All are sheep under the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. 

God has been helping our UBF ministry for the last 50+ years. Although we say that it was God's help, it is easy to display Saul's symptom and impose ourselves over God's help, focusing on methods and techniques. We should confess that it is God's help. There is a danger to impose ourselves too much.

Let me ask you a question. In the bible, Rebekah, the wife of isaac, is called as one of the holy woman. Do you agree? Now let me ask another question. Can a holy woman have a nose ring? I heard someone recently, fervently say no. But the bible says that Rebekah had a nose ring. In fact, it was her engagement ring given from Abraham's servant. I personally do not endorse nose rings. But we have to be careful with our rules. 

Once I heard that someone was moved to pioneer a new area. But he was met with several imposed rules, such as "You must first raise 5 disciples." If we set an example, it means to let others follow what we are doing. But if we don't let them do it, what is the point of our setting an example for them? Is it for others, or for us?

I also found that I am guilty of this. My self-imposed rules have driven some away and injured others. I was doing this to my wife as well. But i don't let her run away from me. So, I changed myself and started to do the dishes--not all the time, but when I can, and also cleaning up the house. To me, she is noticeably happier and free, rather than bound.

Now let's look back at 1 Samuel 14:31-32

[31] That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Micmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted. [32] They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.

The men started eating. But they didn't follow the Lord's way and were eating the meat together with the blood. It was against God's law. It teaches us that although we are free, we are still bound to the Lord and need to follow his rules and commands. 

Look at verses 33-35. 

[33] Then someone said to Saul, "Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that has blood in it." "You have broken faith," he said. "Roll a large stone over here at once." [34] Then he said, "Go out among the men and tell them, `Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against the Lord by eating meat with blood still in it.' " So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there. [35] Then Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first time he had done this.

Saul helped the people to do go the right way and not sin against the Lord. This was good. He also built an altar for the first time. Maybe he thought to appease God with it so they could continue to win the battle. 

Look at verses 36-37.

[36] Saul said, "Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive." "Do whatever seems best to you," they replied. But the priest said, "Let us inquire of God here." [37] So Saul asked God, "Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel's hand?" But God did not answer him that day.

Saul was ready to go out to battle. First, he didn't let them eat. Now he didn't want them to sleep. He didn't inquire of the Lord. The priest had to remind him. Then he did it. But God did not answer him. It meant to stop trying to run ahead and listen to God and resolve the real problem. Running ahead all the time, ignoring what we've done might not always be the right thing to do. Sometimes we have to stop. We always have to listen and follow God's leading. 

Look at verses 38-39. 

[38] Saul therefore said, "Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. [39] As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if it lies with my son Jonathan, he must die." But not one of the men said a word.

Saul figured that someone must have sinned and he wanted to find out what it was.

1. He considered someone breaking his oath as sinning.

2. He was ready to kill as punishment, although the Lord did not instruct anyone to kill. He was still following his own self-imposed rule. 

3. He mentions Jonathan. Maybe he suspected Jonathan already. We have seen three times now how Jonathan acted without his father knowing or knowing what his father was doing. As a father, Saul knew his son well. Yet he was ready to keep his oath without prejudice. But he didn't consider himself at fault. 

It was very different from the time he was confirmed as king. At that time, he was offered to kill those who had opposed his kingship. But he said he could not kill on the day the Lord rescued his people. Now he was ready to kill those who had disobeyed him, including his own son. He forgot the Lord who rescues, and only mentioned his name with an empty meaning. 

4. He forgot to ask for forgiveness for their sin against God's rule of not eating meat with the blood still in it. Still, he was thinking about himself as the center. 

5. Look at verse 39 again. "But not one of the men said a word." They let their fear of man get in the way. Saul was not the only one responsible. The people were also responsible. Leviticus 5:1, "If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible." To work together, we have to submit at times, and we also have to speak up and support each other. 

Look at verses 40-43.

[40] Saul then said to all the Israelites, "You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here." "Do what seems best to you," the men replied. [41] Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, "Give me the right answer." And Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. [42] Saul said, "Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son." And Jonathan was taken. [43] Then Saul said to Jonathan, "Tell me what you have done." So Jonathan told him, "I merely tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now must I die?"

Jonathan was exposed. But Saul was exposed too. Jonathan didn't agree. But he didn't fight back. Still he honored his father s God's servant. 

Look at verses 44-45.

[44] Saul said, "May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan. " [45] But the men said to Saul, "Should Jonathan die---he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God's help." So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.

Finally, the men stood up to Saul on Jonathan's behalf. But in doing so, they acknowledged that it was God's help and deliverance. They reminded Saul of the Lord who rescues his people. On that basis Saul should not kill Jonathan. They made sure he got the message, saying that not a hair of Jonathan's head would fall to the ground. And again they said, it was done by "God's help." They rescued Jonathan. 

Their actions show us that we need to support each other. Although God may be using this person or that person, we have to support each other and work together. They were also responsible for continuing God's work or hindering it. Thanks to their help Jonathan was saved. 

Look at verses 49-52.

[49] Saul's sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal. [50] His wife's name was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of Saul's army was Abner son of Ner, and Ner was Saul's uncle. [51] Saul's father Kish and Abner's father Ner were sons of Abiel. [52] All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.

These verses tell us of Saul's family and work as a king. He and his family were involved in fighting and delivering the people all their days. He had fought hard and diligently. He took mighty and brave men. The fighting was bitter all of his days. But he didn't do it God's way all the time. Maybe that is why it was so bitter for him. 

From the passage we learn that God delivers and helps his people. We have to learn to recognize God's work rather than impose ourselves and our rules. We also have to submit to each other in humility that God may help us and do great things in and through us. We are called to fight the Lord's battle in the Lord's way, according to the Lord's purpose for the Lord's people.