1 Samuel 14:43
Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what you have done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand, and, see, I must die.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(43, 44) Lo, I must die.—These wild and thoughtless vows are peculiarly characteristic of this half-barbaric period. We have already observed that the age now closing had been peculiarly the age of vows. A similar terrible oath, equalling Saul’s in its rashness, had been taken by Jephthah. It is noticeable that not only Saul, who vowed the vow, but Jonathan, its victim, were convinced that the vow, though perhaps hastily and rashly made, must be kept. “Against both these,” says Erdman in Lange with great force “rises the people’s voice as the voice of God, the question (in 1Samuel 14:45), ‘Shall Jonathan die? ‘and the answer,’ Far be it,’ expresses the sorrowful astonishment and the energetic protest of the people, who were inspired by Jonathan’s heroic deed and its brilliant result. . . . Over against Saul’s oath the people set their own: As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground.’ Probably Saul was not unwilling in this awful question, when his son’s life trembled in the balance, to submit his will for once to the people’s.”

“Take then no vow at random: ta’en in faith,

Preserve it; yet not bent, as Jephthah once,

Blindly to execute a rash resolve,

Whom better it had suited to exclaim,

‘I have done ill than to redeem his pledge

By doing worse.”—Dante, Paradise, 5:63-68.

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.Give a perfect lot - The phrase is obscure, but the meaning is probably as in the margin. 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. I am sentenced to death for it; which is hard measure. He had another answer, that he knew not of his father’s command; but that being said before, 1 Samuel 14:27, it was needless here to repeat it. Then Saul said to Jonathan, tell me what thou hast done,.... What sin he had committed, the lot having fallen on him, and found him out:

and Jonathan told him; the whole of the matter, all the truth, without any reserve:

and said, I did but take a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand; he speaks of the fact as a trivial thing, as if it was not deserving of death, though he was willing to submit to it; yet it seems strange he should say nothing of his ignorance of the charge and oath of Saul, and plead that in excuse of it; though Josephus (h) makes him to take notice of it: and, "lo, I must die"; am condemned to die, as the Targum; for which he was prepared and ready, being willing to testify an entire subjection to his father's authority and will. Josephus (i) represents him speaking with a generosity and greatness of soul, after this manner,"death is most sweet to me, which is for the sake of maintaining thy piety and religion; and after so glorious a victory, it is the greatest consolation to me to leave the Hebrews conquerors of the Philistines.''

(h) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 4. (i) lbid.

Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
43. Tell me] In like manner Joshua moved Achan to confess, when the lot had fixed upon him as the “troubler of Israel” (Joshua 7:19).

I did but taste, &c.] I did certainly taste … here I am: I will die. Jonathan’s words are not a lamentation over his hard fate, as the E. V. implies, but a confession that the guilt, though involuntary, was his, and an heroic expression of readiness to sacrifice his life for his country even in the hour off victory.But 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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