Skip to content

8. Saul’s Fear; Jonathan’s Faith

December 17, 2009

Text:      I Samuel 13:1-14:52

Outline:      I. Saul Assembles an Army      I Samuel 13:1-4

                         II. Saul Fails to Persevere      I Samuel 13:5-9

                        III. Samuel Rebukes Saul      I Samuel 13:10-23

                        IV. Jonathan Exhibits Boldness      I Samuel 14:1-23

                        V. Saul Loses Control      I Samuel 14:24-47

                       VI. Saul’s Reign Summarized      I Samuel 14:48-52


     Considering the previous lesson, this lesson, and the lessons to come, Saul’s reign seems to be best described in Scripture by James 1:2-8. Saul’s faith is being tested but perseverance and maturity seem lacking. He was hesitant to ask God for wisdom and when he did, he had trouble accepting it. He was unstable, accepted and rejected by God until David, God’s true choice as king, would be old enough to become king of Israel.

     Saul ruled from age 30 to 72. His army consisted of 3000 men; 2000 at Micmash under his command and 1000 at Gibeah under his son Jonathan’s command. The other fighting men were sent home. Jonathan attacks the Philistines at Geba. Israel fears the Philistines so Saul sounds the call throughout Israel to come and help fight. The Philistines assemble 3000 chariots. 6000 charioteers, and a large army near Micmash. Israel’s army is afraid and they go into hiding. Some even fled east of the Jordan River. Saul was waiting at Gilgal for Samuel but he did not come and Saul’s army began to scatter. Saul doesn’t wait for Samuel and offers a sacrifice to God to quiet the troops. Samuel arrives when Saul is finished and questions him as to what he did. Saul explains he was seeking the Lord’s favor thinking Samuel was not coming. Samuel rebukes Saul for disobeying God and states his kingdom will be given to another whose heart seeks the Lord and who will obey His Law. In this case, Saul had no authority to offer sacrifices not being a Levite and he probably was just going through the motions to appease the troops. Saul has a tendency to rationalize the truth as we shall see in the next lesson.

     Samuel leaves and goes to Jonathan at Gibeah. Saul counts his soldiers and learns his forces are only about 600 men [he started with 2000 men]. Saul and Jonathan’s forces meet at Gilgal while the Philistines gather at Micmash to send out raiding parties against the Israeli settlements. Israel’s weapons were made by the Philistines so when the battle was to commence, only Saul and Jonathan had spears. Saying this would be a miss-match is a real understatement.

     Jonathan and his armor bearer leave Israel’s camp without Saul’s knowledge to go across the valley to the Philistine camp between Micmash and Geba. Jonathan and his armor bearer go boldly, showing themselves to the Philistines, and trusting in the Lord to bless them and keep them safe. Jonathan climbs the cliff with his armor bearer and kills about 20 Philistines. God complements Jonathan’s boldness and faith by causing panic in the Philistine camp. Saul and his forces see the panic and decide to attack, driving the Philistines out of the area. As a reward for victory, Saul forbids his troops to eat. Jonathan did not hear his father’s order so he is caught eating honey. When challenged, he reveals his contempt for Saul’s order believing it prevented an even greater victory over the Philistines. Israel’s forces rebel and begin slaughtering the plunder, even eating meat with blood still in it. Saul hears of this and builds a place to slaughter the animals properly. He also builds an altar and asks the priest to consult the Lord about continuing the battle and plundering the Philistines. God does not answer so Saul gathers his forces to see who has sinned. Saul prays and the lot falls on Jonathan for eating honey. Saul’s soldiers prevent Jonathan’s death because he was the one who gave Israel victory. So Saul decides to stop pursuing the Philistines.

     Throughout Saul’s reign, he fought Moab, Ammon, Edom, Zobah, and the Philistines. He even defeated the Amalekites. But Philistia was the nation he battled most.


     1. Confrontation is necessary if good is to defeat evil, if righteousness is to defeat unrighteousness. We are to love our enemies but confront sinful behavior.

     2. The forces of evil are large and strong. We are to wait patiently on God and not fear. Await His leading to have assurance of victory.

     3. Do not assume responsibilities which have not been given to you. Especially if those responsibilities have been given to another. Such action is disruptive, confusing, and creates speculation with respect to who has authority over what. Follow the Lord’s instructions in all details.

     4. We must be armed if we are to do battle for the Lord [see Ephesians 6:10-18 and Hebrews 4:12-13]. Do not engage the enemy without the assurance that God is leading you in battle.

     5. Possessing bold faith and trust in God makes one available to be used by the Lord to bring victory to His people over their enemies. Step down, step out, and step up, making yourself known and available.

     6. After defeating His/our enemies, do not hinder the possibility of further victories by employing “stupid” rules which interfere with God’s Will. We are to always obey God’s Law but we must not interfere with God’s Will by implementing man’s rules.

      7. It is never too late to seek God’s Will. Consult Him regularly.

     8. Israel’s purpose was to defeat and eliminate the wicked influence of the Canaanites living among them. Likewise, as Christians, our purpose is to confront and defeat evil in our culture. Ours is to be a passionate purpose, not a passive or permissive purpose.

     9. Consistency and faithfulness are two character traits admired by God and required of good and Godly leaders.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: