1 Samuel 13-14: “Saul’s True Colors Begin To Come Out As He Rebels Against The Lord”
1.1. In our last study, we looked at chapters 11-12 and saw king Saul in his best form as he initially handled well the testings that the Lord put him through.
1.1.1. In chapter 11, the Amonites came and threatened the people of the city of Jabesh-gilead, and they told the people of the city that they would destroy them in battle or if the people were willing to have the Amonites gouge out all of their right eyes that they would allow the city to surrender to them, and only in this way they would make peace with them.
1.1.2. When this threat was made by
the Amonites, the people of Jabesh-gilead then sent for help to the other
tribes. Saul heard about their plight
then and became angry as the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he summoned
all of the children of
1.1.3. The Lord helped the children
1.1.4. In chapter 12, the Israelites formally accepted Saul as their king and thus had a coronation ceremony for him as their king.
1.1.5. Samuel began chapter 12 however with his farewell speech as leader over God’s people, and in that speech he:
184.108.40.206. Defended his conduct before the people all throughout his lifetime.
1.2. In our study today, we are going to look at chapter 13 and 14, and we will see Saul’s true colors begin to come out and he begins his downward spiritual spiral of rebellion against the Lord.
1.2.1. Because of his rebellion against the Lord, in chapter 13 Saul loses the kingly dynasty through his sons that he had been promised if he remained faithful to the Lord. Then, in chapter 15 (our next study after today’s), because of further rebellion by Saul during his battle with the Amelekites, he is told that the kingdom itself will be taken from him and given to another man, one after God’s own heart.
1.2.2. In chapter 13, the Philistines threaten war against Israel, and Saul becomes impatient waiting for Samuel to meet him at Gilgal and makes a sacrifice for the nation, and in doing so Saul sins by assuming a role that was not his, that of a priest.
1.2.3. In chapter 14, Saul makes a foolish threat to his army that they could not eat until the evening and he had gotten revenge against his enemies. His army then becomes famished and weakened after fighting all day, and they can only achieve a limited victory as a result. Jonathan, the son of Saul, also did not hear about this threat of Saul’s and broke it, and we’ll see that Saul would have killed Jonathan for this had the people not stopped Saul from carrying this out.
1.2.4. We’ll see in these two chapters that Saul’s true colors begin to shine through:
220.127.116.11. Saul begins to build his own kingdom and everything he does he does to build up and glorify himself. We’ll see that Saul becomes a “glory hound.”
18.104.22.168. Saul becomes a “control freak” and can’t handle anyone acting independently.
22.214.171.124. Saul begins to become jealous of anyone who is successful or does well in battle.
126.96.36.199. Saul begins to act irrationally and capriciously and to make ridiculous demands of his people upon threat of death.
1.2.5. Warren Wiersbe writes the following pithy quote about Saul, and leaders in general, “David was humbled by his success, but Saul became more and more proud and abusive…Effective leaders use their authority to honor God and build up their people, but ineffective leaders use the people to build up their authority.”
1.2.6. We saw in a previous study that Saul was a type of the “carnal” Christian in the scriptures. I want to illustrate something about being a “carnal” Christian. My son recently got his cast removed off of his right thumb which had been broken. He was given a lump of clay in a Tupperware jar to use for physical therapy. He is supposed to squeeze the clay between his right thumb and pinky all throughout the day to strengthen the muscles that had atrophied around his thumb. However, what he discovered is that if he has been working that clay and then he merely sits the lump in the piece of Tupperware that within about 40 minutes or so it will automatically conform itself to the inside of the Tupperware jar. I told him that this is the way that it is with us as Christians. We are the lump of clay that the Lord is shaping, however whenever we take ourselves out of the Master’s hands, we will find that we can quickly begin to conform to the world in our actions and thoughts. In our story today, we will see how quickly and how far Saul regresses in his spiritual walk and commitment to the Lord.
2. VS 13:1 - “1 Saul
was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two
We read here the age at which Saul became king, 30,
and the length of his reign, 42 years.
However, there are some manuscript problems with this verse, and thus we
read that Saul’s age and the length of his reign are in italics. The NKJV translates verse 1 as, “1 Saul reigned one year; and
when he had reigned two years over
3. VS 13:2-3 - “2 Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent.” - Saul chooses a guard of 3,000 men and gives 1/3rd of them to Jonathan
3.1. Here in this verse we are first introduced to Jonathan who is the son of Saul. He is not introduced initially here as being the son of Saul, but he will be called such later in this chapter.
3.2. Jonathan was a godly man who was not prideful and filled with himself, as was his father, and, we will see later in the book of 1 Samuel that he will become best friends with David, the man who would become God’s choice to succeed his father as king. It is an ultimate signal of selflessness in Jonathan’s life that he would align himself with the man who would supplant himself as king, albeit at the Lord’s own choosing. David will be called a man after God’s own heart.
3.3. Jonathan was also a brave and mighty warrior for the Lord, and he always sought to use his life to glorify the Lord.
4. VS 13:3-4a - “3 Jonathan
smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines
heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying,
“Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 All
4.1. The “first mention” of Jonathan in the scriptures we see here is that he was a mighty and successful warrior for the Lord. We see that Jonathan has a tremendous victory over the garrison of the Philistines in Geba.
We see here now for the first time that Saul’s true
colors begin to show. Saul blows the
trumpet all throughout the
4.3. In the first place, its always wrong to “toot your own horn,” but Saul evidently went by the thinking that “if you don’t toot your own horn no one else will toot it for you.”
4.4. However, Saul in blowing these horns is taking credit for that which he didn’t even accomplish. What kind of a father would want to take credit for all the good things that his son accomplished?
4.5. Saul has now kicked the Lord off of the throne of his life and he is from this point in time no longer attempting to build the Lord’s kingdom, but rather his own.
4.6. Saul has become a man who now demands all attention and views the entire world as revolving around him and for his own aggrandizement (to build him up).
4.7. Saul now becomes jealous of anyone who is prospered and advanced by the Lord. Saul is jealous even of his own son here, and we will see in the next chapter that he is even willing to kill his own son in order to advance himself.
Because of Jonathan’s victory over the Philistines
here we see that
5. VS 13:4b-9 - “The people were then
summoned to Saul at Gilgal. 5 Now
the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000
horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and
they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. 6 When the
A huge army of Philistines assembles before
5.2. The Philistine army assembles and then camps at Michmash.
Saul summons the people of
5.4. Samuel had told Saul earlier that he would meet him at Gigal in seven days, and so Saul waits for Samuel to come. However, on the 7th day he becomes impatient in his waiting as he sees his army due to their fear begin to flee in every direction into hiding.
Samuel had somehow communicated to king Saul that in
his office as king that he was not to assume the office of priest and make
sacrifices and seek the Lord’s will.
Kings were to be the leaders of the people of
5.5.1. I believe that it may be the case that in 1 Samuel 10:25 when Samuel was introducing Saul as king to the people and he wrote down the ordinances of the kingdom that these may have included the fact that the king was never to assume the office of priest, “25 Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote them in the book and placed it before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house.”
It could be that Samuel waited until the last minute
to come to Saul because he wanted Saul to be tested to see if he truly would be
obedient to the Lord as
5.7. Saul evidently looked upon this sacrifice to the Lord in a superstitious way. He apparently thought that it was more important that the sacrifice be offered than that he be obedient to the Lord. In 1 Sam. 15:22, Samuel will tell Saul that the Lord desires obedience over sacrifice, “22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”
5.7.1. Christians sometimes think superstitiously that they can gain God’s favor by doing various kinds of religious activities or rites, however by doing so they are falling into the same trap as Saul. Only obedience and total commitment to the Lord will gain us the Lord’s favor.
6. VS 13:10-15 - “10 As
soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul
went out to meet him and to greet him. 11 But Samuel said,
“What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were
scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and
that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore I
said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not
asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I
forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to
Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you,
for now the Lord would have
established your kingdom over
6.1. We see here that if Saul just would have waited a few more minutes he would have had the Lord’s blessing for Samuel would have arrived in the nick of time and performed the sacrifice for the people. However, Saul had been anxious as he had seen man after man dessert from his army. The army of 3,000 will now only contain 600 men when Saul goes up against the Philistines.
6.1.1. How many times in our Christian walk is it true that if we just would have waited on the Lord a little longer, just hung in there in our faith a little longer, we would have been in a place where the Lord could bless our life? However, being hard heads we give up and try to help God out (as if He could ever need any help in anything!).
6.2. We see here that in defending himself to Samuel that Saul is being a hypocrite and a liar. Notice that Saul lies twice in these verses:
6.2.1. When Samuel arrives Saul lies by trying to act like everything is going good.
188.8.131.52. Saul blames the people for his making this sacrifice for he maintains that he had to do it because his army was scattering each and every way while the Philistines were threatening to attack.
6.2.2. Saul lies by saying that because the people had been leaving him as he sat waiting for Samuel to come that ‘he forced himself’ to make the offering.
184.108.40.206. The truth of the matter is that Saul was determined that he wasn’t going to let anything, like following the Lord’s commandments, hold him back. Plus, he was thinking superstitiously that making a sacrifice to the Lord would give him luck in the battle.
We see here that Samuel tells Saul that because of
his sin in offering this sacrifice to the Lord, that Saul will lose the kingly
dynasty he would have had through his family.
The Lord has found out a man who is after His own heart whom He will
appoint to be king over
7. VS 13:16-22 - “16 Now
Saul and his son Jonathan and the people who were present with them were
staying in Geba of Benjamin while the Philistines camped at Michmash. 17 And
the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one
company turned toward Ophrah, to the
8. VS 13:19-22 - “19 Now no
blacksmith could be found in all the
The Philistines had for many years followed a clever
plan to subjugate the Israelites.
Instead of attacking the Israelites directly they sought to assimilate
them. They did this by encouraging intermarriage
and by selling the Israelites all of their iron implements. Initially,
9. VS 13:23-14:14 - “23 And
the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. 1 Now
the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was
carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison
that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2 Saul
was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in
Migron. And the people who were with him were about six hundred
men, 3 and Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of
Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the Lord
at Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had
gone. 4 Between the passes by which Jonathan sought to cross over to
the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp crag on the one side and a sharp
crag on the other side, and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the
other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north opposite Michmash, and
the other on the south opposite Geba. 6 Then Jonathan said to the
young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the
garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord
will work for us, for the Lord is
not restrained to save by many or by few.” 7 His armor bearer said
to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with
you according to your desire.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we
will cross over to the men and reveal ourselves to them. 9 “If they
say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you’; then we will stand in our place and not
go up to them. 10 “But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go
up, for the Lord has given them
into our hands; and this shall be the sign to us.” 11 When both of
them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, the Philistines
said, “Behold, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden
themselves.” 12 So the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his
armor bearer and said, “Come up to us and we will tell you something.” And
Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hands of
Notice here the note about the priest whom Saul had
been employing, he is ‘Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of
Eli, the priest of the Lord at
9.2. These verses and this plan conceived and followed through by Jonathan reveal both his bravery and craftiness. Jonathan’s plan is highly risky and it depends upon the Lord to protect them and provide them victory in this battle.
9.3. J. Vernon McGee writes the following about this victory by Jonathan on this day, “It is said that this is the chapter which British General Allenby read the night before he made his successful attack upon the Turks in World War I.”
9.4. Jonathan reasoned that by walking along this narrow crag up to the Philistine garrison, Jonathan and his armor bearer could make a surprise attach and have a vantage point from which they could kill with the arrow all of the Philistines in this garrison, yet have an impenetrable place of hiding from the Philistines’ arrows.
9.5. When Jonathan says, ‘for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few,’ he reveals that he has something that his father Saul does not have, faith in the Lord. Jonathan realized that the Lord was the One who could, would, and should fight all of our battles.
9.6. In his mind, Jonathan believed that if when they revealed themselves to the Philistines that the Philistines told them to come on up to them that the Lord wanted them to attack and would give them victory.
9.7. The Philistines knew that the original army of Saul had largely fled or gone into hiding in caves and anywhere they could hide (only 600 of the 3,000 were now with Saul). The Philistines saw Jonathan and his armor bearer appearing to come out of hiding and they felt that these two men solitary men could pose no great threat to them.
9.8. We read here that 20 men in all were killed by Jonathan and his armor bearer.
9.9. Jonathan however acted independently here in going and achieving this victory, and this independence was seen as a threat to Saul for Saul had become a “control freak” and was threatened by anyone’s independence or success.
9.10. By the way, in verse 7 we see that Jonathan’s armor bearer fulfilled very well the role of “an assistant pastor” by encouraging Jonathan in his vision for the battle, as he says to Jonathan, ‘“Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.”’
VS 14:15-19 -
“15 And there was a trembling in the camp, in
the field, and among all the people. Even the garrison and the raiders
trembled, and the earth quaked so that it became a great trembling. 16 Now
Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted
away; and they went here and there. 17 Saul said to the
people who were with him, “Number now and see who has gone from us.” And
when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there.
18 Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the
ark of God was at that time with the sons of
10.1. Saul had watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin spying upon the Philistines and the watchmen reported to Saul that the Philistines were running here and there, however the watchmen nor Saul knew that the reason they were running here and there in fear was because of the victory that Jonathan had made over the garrison of Philistines.
10.2. Saul figures out that Jonathan has had a victory in battle over the Philistines.
10.2.1. Saul sensed that someone from their midst had gone and had a victory in battle against the Philistines and so he had everyone in his army numbered and then discovered that only Jonathan and his armor bearer were missing.
Saul saw this as an opportunity to attack the
Philistines. He began to act
superstitiously however as he sends Ahijah to go and bring the
10.4. Evidently Saul at this time had asked the priest to bring his ephod so that they could determine from the Lord whether or not they should go down and attack the Philistines at this time. However, after asking the priest to inquire of the Lord, Saul upon seeing that there was great commotion in the camp of the Philistines decides to tell the priest to withdraw his hand from the ephod and not to worry about inquiring of the Lord about going to battle. Saul thought inquiring of the Lord would be a waste of time, for this was a time to act.
10.4.1. Before we criticize Saul here for telling the priest not to take the time to inquire of the Lord, we ought to think about how often we rely upon conventional wisdom in making our decisions rather than inquiring of the Lord in prayer concerning them. Many times we Christians lean upon fleshly human wisdom and reasoning rather than upon the Lord, just as king Saul did on this occasion.
10.4.1.1. We Christians need to realize that we always have time to inquire of the Lord before we make decisions. If we will learn to do this we shall never be sorry that we have done so.
10.4.2. How many days do we not have a quiet time with the Lord because we don’t have time for it, for this is a time to act?
VS 14:20-23 -
“20 Then Saul and all the people who were with
him rallied and came to the battle; and behold, every man’s sword was against
his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21 Now the
Hebrews who were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them
all around in the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites
who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the men of
11.1. The Lord had caused great confusion in the camp of the Philistines because of Jonathan’s victory and an earthquake that the Lord had caused, and the Philistines began to just run around swinging their swords wildly and slaying each other.
11.2. When Saul and his army came down to attack the Philistines they received much help, for not only did the men who had been in his army but who had fled to the caves come to their aid, but also Hebrews who were with the Philistines began to also rise up against the Philistines.
VS 14:24-30 -
“24 Now the men of
12.1. We see here in these verses the capricious attitude and irrational thinking which Saul has begun to develop. He places the men of his army under a foolish oath not to eat anything and in doing so causes them to be greatly weakened and not have as great of a victory over the Philistines as they could have had if they just could have eaten some of the honey flowing in the fields. Further, his since Jonathan (his own son) hadn’t heard of Saul’s oath he went ahead and ate some honey and now must face the consequences.
12.1.1. When we as Christians stumble and begin to walk in the flesh, it is amazing how quickly we can spiral down and begin to act irrationally and selfishly just as Saul does in our story here.
Jonathan realizes now that his father’s attitudes
and decisions are very destructive and are harming
12.3. Seeing how his father’s actions adversely affect himself and all Israel will prepare Jonathan to become bonded to David since David was a man who always placed the Lord first and fought not the battles for the defense of his own turf, but the Lord’s battles.
13. VS 14:31-35 - “31 They struck among the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very weary. 32 The people rushed greedily upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slew them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, saying, “Behold, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have acted treacherously; roll a great stone to me today.” 34 Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the people and say to them, ‘Each one of you bring me his ox or his sheep, and slaughter it here and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’ ” So all the people that night brought each one his ox with him and slaughtered it there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.” - Because of battling all day and not being able to eat, the army of Saul is weary and famished and they begin to eat the animals, the spoil gained from the Philistines, without even draining out the blood from the animals
13.1. Saul had done such a foolish thing in commanding that his army could not eat all day long, and after a mighty battle against the Philistines his army is desperate. With the mere sight of sheep, oxen and calves the army begins to slaughter the animals randomly and eat the flesh right off of them.
13.2. Interestingly, Saul sees the sins of others but he does not see his own sin on this day. Because he is concerned that the people were sinning by eating the animals in their blood he sends men throughout the tribes telling them to bring the animals to him and he would slaughter them and drain out their blood.
13.3. We see also that Saul built his first altar on this day. On this day, evidently the Israelites worshipped the Lord, however a sacrifice for the sins of the people should have been made at this time because of their sin in eating the meat with the blood in it. The Lord would not have forgiven the people nor Saul at this point in time however because their hearts were not yet set on following the Lord completely.
VS 14:36-45 -
“36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the
Philistines by night and take spoil among them until the morning light, and let
us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” So
the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 Saul inquired of
God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You give them into the hand
14.1. Saul is concerned about everyone else’s sin except for his own. He wants to root out the sin that is keeping them from having the Lord’s blessing upon them, however he doesn’t want to look in his own heart to find that sin.
Saul and Jonathan stand on one side and the people
on the other. The priest takes the
14.3. Note that Jonathan doesn’t try to defend himself in the matter, but says that now he must die. He could have pled for his life claiming innocence since he hadn’t even heard of Saul’s oath until he had already eaten of the honey.
14.4. Saul is willing to kill even his own son because of the stupid and foolish oath that he had made the people keep. Saul truly was a “control freak,” and his controlling attitudes will just get worse and worse.
14.5. Notice here that the people revolt against Saul and will not let him kill Jonathan on this day. They tell Saul that it was Jonathan that had brought about this great victory on their behalf, and that in this victory that Jonathan had ‘worked with God.’
VS 14:46-48 -
“46 Then Saul went up from pursuing the
Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place. 47 Now
when Saul had taken the kingdom over
Note that Saul was constantly at war, and fighting
enemies on every side of
VS 14:49-52 -
“49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan and
Ishvi and Malchi-shua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the
name of the firstborn Merab and the name of the younger Michal. 50 The
name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the
captain of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. 51
16.1. Saul’s personal stats:
16.1.1. Saul’s wife: Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz.
16.1.2. His sons: Jonathan and Ishvi and Malchi-shua.
16.1.3. His daughters: Merab and Michal.
16.1.5. The captain of Saul’s army: Abner.
16.2. Saul fought the Philistines all of the days of his life, and the war was always severe.
It says here that Saul would add to his army any
mighty or valiant man in
17.1. As we see the beginning of the end for Saul in this study that describe his spiritual decline, let’s be careful to learn from his failures and not rebel against the Lord and obeying all of His commands, for we do not want to become that carnal Christian that begins to conform to the world.
17.1.1. How destructive is the life of a backslider.