1 Samuel 14:37
And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
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(37) And Saul asked counsel of God.—The same phrase is always used in the many passages in the Books of Judges, 1 Sam., 2 Sam., 1 Chron., Hosea, &c. when God was inquired of by the Urim and Thummim. It may be styled the technical term of inquiry of the Oracle of the Most High; there are, however, slight. variations in the English translations of this phrase.

But he answered him not . . .—When the mysterious gems refused to shine, or in any way to signify the Divine approbation or disapproval, the high-priestly questioner seems, as in this instance, to have concluded that some public transgression had been committed, and that special atonement must be made before the desired answer could be expected. The sacred gems probably remained dull and lightless the night was wearing on, and Saul chafed at the unexpected delay, and in his impetuous anger uttered the wild words on which we are about to comment.

14:36-46 If God turns away our prayer, we have reason to suspect it is for some sin harboured in our hearts, which we should find out, that we may put it away, and put it to death. We should always first suspect and examine ourselves; but an unhumbled heart suspects every other person, and looks every where but at home for the sinful cause of calamity. Jonathan was discovered to be the offender. Those most indulgent to their own sins are most severe upon others; those who most disregard God's authority, are most impatient when their own commands are slighted. Such as cast abroad curses, endanger themselves and their families. What do we observe in the whole of Saul's behaviour on this occasion, but an impetuous, proud, malignant, impious disposition? And do we not in every instance perceive that man, left to himself, betrays the depravity of his nature, and is enslaved to the basest tempers.Asked counsel - The technical phrase for inquiring of God by Urim and Thummim, and applied also to inquiry of other oracles. 31-34. the people were very faint. And the people flew upon the spoil—at evening, when the time fixed by Saul had expired. Faint and famishing, the pursuers fell voraciously upon the cattle they had taken, and threw them on the ground to cut off their flesh and eat them raw, so that the army, by Saul's rashness, were defiled by eating blood, or living animals; probably, as the Abyssinians do, who cut a part of the animal's rump, but close the hide upon it, and nothing mortal follows from that wound. They were painfully conscientious in keeping the king's order for fear of the curse, but had no scruple in transgressing God's command. To prevent this violation of the law, Saul ordered a large stone to be rolled, and those that slaughtered the oxen to cut their throats on that stone. By laying the animal's head on the high stone, the blood oozed out on the ground, and sufficient evidence was afforded that the ox or sheep was dead before it was attempted to eat it. Either,

1. Because he was displeased with Saul for his former neglect, 1 Samuel 14:18,19, where he began to ask advice of God, but was so rude and impious as not to tarry for an answer; and therefore it was but a just retaliation, if when Saul did ask, God would not vouchsafe him an answer. Or,

2. To manifest his dislike of the violation of oaths. For although Jonathan might have a fair excuse from his invincible ignorance and urgent necessity; and though Saul had done foolishly in making this oath (which also God would this way discover); yet when once it was made, God would hereby teach them that it should be observed, and that they should abstain even from all appearance of the breach of it.

And Saul asked counsel of God,.... He agreed to the motion of the high priest, and asked counsel by Urim and Thummim; the Targum is, as before,"inquired by the Word of the Lord:"

shall I go down after the Philistines? pursue after them in their flight to their own country, which, lying to the sea, was a descent:

wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? what remain of them, otherwise a victory over them was obtained:

but he answered him not that day; no answer was returned by Urim and Thummim, so that he was left in suspense whether he should pursue or no; the Targum is,"he received not his prayer that day;''this was treating him in a righteous manner; since he would not stay for an answer from the Lord, 1 Samuel 14:19, the Lord now will not give him any; though the principal view was, that he might take the step he did.

And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day.
37. asked counsel of God] Inquired of God, the same verb as in 1 Samuel 10:22, See note there.

Verses 37, 38. - He answered him not. From this silence Saul concludes that some sin has been committed, and therefore calls together all the chief of the people - literally, "the corner stones" (Judges 20:2) - to inquire who was the guilty person, and wherein he had sinned. 1 Samuel 14:37But when Saul inquired of God (through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest), "Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt Thou deliver them into the hand of Israel?" God did not answer him. Saul was to perceive from this, that the guilt of some sin was resting upon the people, on account of which the Lord had turned away His countenance, and was withdrawing His help.
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