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Failure of Saul & the deliverer Jonathan: The redemption pattern

6th September 2009, hej

 

1) The Events

Jonathan wins a victory against the Philistines. The Philistines are provoked and gather their troops and Saul calls all Israel out. Meanwhile Saul's such a bad leader he thinks he has to offer a sacrifice to stop people leaving him, which annoys Yahweh the God of Israel, who says he will take the kingdom from him. After this Saul still sits around with his 600 hangers on, while his son Jonathan with an armour bearer takes on the whole Philistine army single handedly. The earth quakes and the Philistine army starts falling apart, and we learn they had Hebrews amongst them (reflecting poorly on Saul's leadership). Saul finally starts leading out his men and we learn he'd made a vow nobody should eat until victory. Jonathan, when he found this out, condemned the oath as foolish (after having already eaten some honey). Then Saul's troops are so hungry they eat with the blood forcing Saul to build an altar to do the thing properly.


Then after this Saul asks God for help and gets no answer. So he says 'whoever is causing this must die even if it be my son'. Saul takes a lot, which ends in Jonathan being selected. Jonathan confesses he ate the honey. Saul condemns his son to die. The people protest that it was only through Jonathan there was so great a victory. Saul bows to their pressure and lets his son live. Saul does not follow up attacking the Philistines, and what's left of the Philistines go home.


The whole incident from every angle is embarrassing. Saul comes out looking weak and a fool, and the whole Hebrew nation of that time, a divided mess. The only bright light is Jonathan and he was condemned to death! But this is more than a frank history. In here is the very pattern of the messy events that are part of our redemption.


Jonathan the leader

The account of the two chapters is about Jonathan. This chapter is the very first time Jonathan is mentioned in the Bible. We are told it is the second year of Saul's reign. Jonathan is given no introduction, rather he suddenly appears as a leader of a 1000 of Saul's regular army.

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. (1Samuel 13:2)


Jonathan must have gone off with his 1000 men and attacked a garrison of the Philistines as the very next thing that is said is,

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. (1Samuel 13:3-4)

We can see from this that what ever Jonathan had done had made the Philistines so angry their whole army was on its way out. But Saul was taking the credit and called up Israel. Saul and those he gathered, however, seemed to have baulked a bit when they saw what forces the Philistines had managed to muster, 30,000 chariots (2 men in each) 6,000 horsemen and an uncountable number of foot soldiers. In fact most took off and hid as Saul was left with only 600.

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