1 Samuel 14:45
And the people said to Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he has worked with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
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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. 45. the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not—When Saul became aware of Jonathan's transgression in regard to the honey, albeit it was done in ignorance and involved no guilt, he was, like Jephthah [Jud 11:31, 35], about to put his son to death, in conformity with his vow [1Sa 14:44]. But the more enlightened conscience of the army prevented the tarnishing the glory of the day by the blood of the young hero, to whose faith and valor it was chiefly due. With God, i.e. in concurrence with God, or by God’s help he had wrought this salvation. God is so far from being offended with Jonathan, as thou apprehendest, that he hath graciously owned and assisted him in the great service of this day. And the people said unto Saul,.... Hearing such words, and filled with grief, pity, and sympathy for Jonathan, as Josephus (k) observes:

shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? no, he shall not; what, such a man as he die, who, under God, has been the instrument of so great deliverance, who first began it himself with one man only with him, and has proceeded in it to the finishing of it?

God forbid: this shall not be so; they speak of it with the utmost abhorrence and detestation, as a shocking piece of cruelty and ingratitude, unheard of, and not to be paralleled:

as the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; as Saul swore he should die, they also swear he should not, expressing their firm resolution to stand by him, and preserve his life; and so far should it be from him to have his life taken away, that an hair of his head should not be touched, or the least injury done to his person; for though they had yielded a ready obedience to all the orders and commands of Saul, which were distressing to themselves, they were determined to oppose him in this case of his son:

for he hath wrought with God this day; God has been with him, assisted him to do great things for Israel, and therefore should not die for a thing so trivial; and it being not done in disobedience to his father, nor in contempt of him, but through pure ignorance, as some of them well knew; so the Targum,"for it is known before the Lord, that in ignorance he did it this day:"

so the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not; not by force, but by their resolution and importunity; or "redeemed" him (l), by exposing their own lives to danger in opposing their king, and by their petitions to him for him; and, as Josephus says (m), by their prayers to God for him, that his fault might be forgiven.

(k) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 4. (l) "redemerunt", Pagninus, Montanus, &c. (m) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6.) sect. 5.

And the people said unto Saul, {s} Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.

(s) The people thought it their duty to rescue him, who out of ignorance had broken a rash law, and by whom they had received so great a benefit.

45. there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground] See 2 Samuel 14:11; 1 Kings 1:52; Matthew 10:30; Luke 21:18; Acts 27:34.

he hath wrought with God] Compare Jonathan’s own words in 1 Samuel 14:6.

the people rescued Jonathan] “There was now a freer and more understanding spirit in the nation at large. What was tolerated in the time of Jephthah, when every man did what was right in his own eyes, and when the obligation of such vows overrode all other considerations, was no longer tolerated now. The people interposed in Jonathan’s behalf. They recognised the religious aspect of his great exploit. They rallied round him with a zeal that overbore even the royal vow, and rescued Jonathan that he died not. It was the dawn of a better day. It was the national spirit now in advance of their chief, animated by the same Prophetic teaching, which through the voice of Samuel had now made itself felt; the conviction that there was a higher duty even than outward sacrifice or exact fulfilment of literal vows.” Stanley’s Lectures, II. 14.

A somewhat analogous story is told in Livy VIII. 35. Q. Fabius the Master of the Horse violated the commands of the Dictator Papirius Cursor by attacking the Samnites in his absence. He was ordered for instant execution by the dictator, but escaped through the intercession of the people.Verse 45. - The people said. They had hitherto shown their disapproval of Saul's conduct by their silence; now they decide that Jonathan shall not die, and their decision was right and godly. Saul might feel bound by his rash oath, but the consciences of the people told them that an oath to commit a crime is an oath to be repented of as a sin, and not to be performed as a duty. They do not say, however, God forbid, but "Far be it." The name of the Deity is constantly taken in vain in the A.V. without adding either beauty or energy to the word of God. But even if it did, what right have translators to add energy to the word of God? He hath wrought with God this day. The argument of the people is wise and good. Jonathan's whole conduct on that day proved an especial presence of God with him. It would be morally wrong and an offence against religion to condemn that which God approved, and the people therefore set their oath against the king's oath, and prevail. When Saul perceived, this, he directed all the heads of the people (pinnoth, as in Judges 20:2) to draw near to learn whereby (wherein) the sin had occurred that day, and declared, "As truly as Jehovah liveth, who has brought salvation to Israel, even if it were upon Jonathan my son, he shall die." The first כּי in 1 Samuel 14:39 is explanatory; the second and third serve to introduce the words, like ὅτι, quod; and the repetition serves to give emphasis, lit., "that even if it were upon my son, that he shall die." "And of all the people no one answered him," from terror at the king's word.
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