Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
For Lange's chapter 14 passage quote and footnotes, see 1 Samuel 13:1 ff.
4. 14:1–15. Jonathan’s bold attack on the Philistines.
1 Samuel 14:1. “On a day” (הַיּוֹם), on the definite day on which the following occurred. The words: And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer: Let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, are repeated in 1 Samuel 14:6 for the continuation of the narrative which they introduce. What lies between [1 Samuel 14:2–5] is a statement of the existing special circumstances and local relations. This detailed narration shows that it is taken from the account of an eye-witness. The “garrison” of the Philistines is the advanced post mentioned in 13:23. On the other side.1
The interjacent statements introduce us into the details of the whole situation: 1) Jonathan says nothing to his father of his purpose, because he would have forbidden it as too dangerous; the undertaking is set on foot secretly, in the hope of surprising the enemy in sleep or unprepared. 2) Saul (1 Samuel 14:2) is encamped at the extremity of Gibeah. This is mentioned to show that Jonathan could unknown to him make such a blow. Gibeah (1 Samuel 14:16) is the city Gibeah in Benjamin, whither also Samuel had gone from Gilgal (13:15) back of Geba towards the south, yet with its extremity (1 Samuel 14:16) not so far from the pass of the southward-trending Wady, that the movements in the ranks of the Philistines opposite could not be thence observed. Under the pomegranate-tree which is in Migron. By “rimmon” we must here understand not the name of a place, but, on account of the Art., the well-known pomegranate. According to Judg. 20:45 a rock near Gibeah bore the name “Rock of the pomegranate” [Rimmon]; and was well adapted for a fortified position. It is a natural supposition that the same place is meant here, named after the well-known pomegranate. Luther here renders Migron incorrectly suburb. Linguistically it can only signify a place, which, however, from the local relations cannot be the Migron of Isa. 10:28, north of Michmash, whose name seems to be found in the ruins of Magrun, eight minutes from Beitin. Rob. II. 340 [see Am. ed. I., 463, Stanley’s Sin. and Pal. 202]. Rather this place lay south of the pass of Michmash on the northern extremity of Gibeah-Benjamin (Saul), and was marked by the well-known pomegranate. From the context it appears that Gibeah-Benjamin2 extended far along on the heights which stretched out (south of Geba) north-east towards the pass of Michmash, and ended in a rock on which the pomegranate stood, and on whose declivity lay the place Migron. The word means perhaps “precipice” (Then.) which is linguistically better than “threshing-floor” (Rosenm. Alterth. II., 2, 171). That two contiguous places should bear this name is, on account of the nature of the ground, as little surprising (Winer) as the frequent occurrence of the names Ramah and Gibeah (Geba).—3) Saul’s following consisted of about six hundred men and Ahiah the high-priest. We must render: And Ahiah—bare the ephod.3 The words “priest of Jehovah in Shiloh” belong not to Ahiah (Sept., Luth.), but to Eli. Wearing the ephod was a sign of the high-priestly office. Probably Ahiah was with Saul at Gilgal, and ministered in the offering there made by him. The name Ahiah [“Jehovah is brother” or “brother of Jehovah”] is identical with Ahimelech [“brother of the king”] under which this great-grandson of Eli, the sole survivor, (2:33) of the house of Eli, appears (21:2; 22:9, 11, 20; 30:7, e. a.). As to whether of the two names was the original, Ewald remarks that they may have been used without much distinction (since melech “king” might refer to God) as in Elimelech (in Ruth) and Elijah (Gesch. II. 585, Rem. 3).—The people with Saul also knew nothing of Jonathan’s purpose. This statement connects itself naturally with the remark on Saul’s following.—4) Exact description of the ground which Jonathan had to traverse in his bold secret enterprise, 1 Samuel 14:4, 5. According to Robinson’s remarks the plural “passes” is to be explained of the several passages which were made possible by the side-valleys. It is not probable that the plural refers to a long passage over the mountain (Then.). Further the word “between” is intelligible only on the supposition of several passes. Between these passes lay opposite one another two rocky crags or projections, formed by the side-wadys opening right and left into the deep, precipitous Wady es-Suweinit. Robinson went from Jeba (Geba) through that Wady across to Michmash. In this passage (from south to north) he had on the left two hills with steep rocky sides. “Behind each,” says he, “runs up a smaller Wady, so as almost to isolate them. One is on the side towards Jeba and the other towards Mukhmas” (II. 329 [Am. ed. I. 441]). To this observation of Robinson answers exactly the description in 1 Samuel 14:5, according to which the one rock-ledge, Bozez, was a column4 on the north, the other Seneh, on the south, opposite Geba.
1 Samuel 14:6. Continuation of the narrative, with resumption of Jonathan’s words to his armor-bearer [1 Samuel 14:1], but with the difference that the Philistines are here not called by their own name, but “uncircumcised.” This expression marks the difference between them and Israel as covenant-people, which forms the basis for the following utterance of Jonathan. Ewald’s characterization of Jonathan’s feeling as “a mixture of youthful impatience and lofty courage” (III. 48) does not fully explain the inner side of this deed. Its natural basis is youthful heroic spirit and impetuous desire of achievement; but it receives high ethical value and significance from its religious root in Jonathan’s God-fearing and God-trusting heart, whose feeling is expressed in the word: Perhaps Jehovah will work for us, for there is no restraint to Jehovah to save by many or by few.—Over against the “uncircumcised” Jonathan is clearly conscious: 1) that his people is the chosen one, belonging to the Lord, with whom the Lord has made a covenant, and 2) that the Lord cannot deny His almighty help to this people as their covenant-God. This word of Jonathan expresses the genuine theocratic disposition of the liveliest consciousness of God and the firmest trust in God, whence alone could come a true deliverance of the people from their oppressive burden. The “perhaps” indicates not a doubt, but the humility which was coupled with Jonathan’s heroic spirit; he is far from tempting God. The humble and modest hope which is expressed in the word: “perhaps the Lord will work for us” is straightway grounded on the truth: there is no restraint to the Lord, that is, he is at liberty to save by many or by few; that is, the Lord’s help is not dependent on the extent or the degree of the means by which it is realized; his helping power is not conditioned, but absolute. The same thought in Ps. 147:10, 11; 2 Chron. 14:11; 1 Mac. 3:18, 19.
1 Samuel 14:7. The answer of the armor-bearer contains: 1) encouragement to carry out his design, and 2) assurance that he will act with him and stand by him according to his will. Render: “do all whereto thy heart inclines.”5
1 Samuel 14:8. Jonathan explains that, in carrying out his purpose, he proposes that they first show themselves to the Philistines.—In verses 9, 10, we are told how he would therein find a divine sign whether the Lord would grant unto them success in their design. He supposes two cases. If the Philistines at his hail should say: “keep still ! till we come to you,” they will not go up to them; for that would be a sign of courage and preparedness. But if they should say: “come up to us,” they will go up; for that would be a sign of carelessness and slackness. This he would regard as a divine sign that God had given the Philistines into his hands. The divine sign, which Jonathan proposed to find, was a fact which guaranteed the success of the enterprise on its natural-human side also.
1 Samuel 14:11. When Jonathan and his esquire showed themselves, the latter of the two cases occurred. The outposts of the Philistines cry scornfully: Hebrews are coming forth out of their holes, and call out to them: Come up to us, and we will tell you something. An expression taken directly from the life of the people, containing an apparently bold challenge, yet (as we may see) not meant in earnest, and concealing cowardice or careless security and neglect. Cleric.: “They hoped to have sport with them, not supposing that they could there climb the rock.” Jonathan is now sure that God has given them into his hands.6
1 Samuel 14:13. Lively description of the execution by Jonathan and his armor-bearer of their bold undertaking and the brilliant result. On his hands and feet Jonathan climbed up the rock, and the armor-bearer after him. The text-reading: “and they fell before Jonathan and his armor-bearer,” etc., gives a very good sense, as Then. expressly admits. We need not, then, after the Sept. read: “and they turned before Jonathan and he smote them,” where Sept. incorrectly read וַיִּפְנוּ for וַיּפְּלוּ. How (as Ewald asserts) the connection favors the reading of the Sept. is not to be seen.—The armor-bearer slew completely after him.—The Sept. has ἐπεδίδου whence, however, we are not to read מוסִיף. [“more fully”] instead of the text “slaying;” the latter is to be retained from the connection, the narrative, from the rapidity of the affair, pressing on to describe how Jonathan, pushing on, strikes down with overwhelming might every one whom he meets, without stopping to kill completely, while the armor-bearer, following him, kills those that were struck down, that they might not rise again. The Heb. word (מְמוֹתֵת) means “killing completely,” as in 17:51; 2 Sam. 1:9 sq.—A like bold deed in scaling a castle in the Numidian war is told in Sall. Bell. Jugurth., c. 89, 90.—[This force of “complete killing” can hardly be assigned to this Heb. form (Polel, here causative of Qal, of מוּת). It means simply “kill,” and so in the passages cited by the author, and the statement here seems to be that not only Jonathan, but also his armor-bearer (like the feudal esquire) took part in the combat. The phrase “fell before him” fairly means “fell dead;” the words do not warrant the history gotten out of them by Dr. Erdmann. But the Heb. text, though somewhat hard, may be maintained without this. See “Text. and Gramm.”—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:14. The result of this first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made: about thirty men were thus killed. In the last words of the verse the overthrow is set forth in terms taken from ploughing: in about a half-furrow of a yoke of land.—This indicates the position of the fallen, after Jonathan, pressing impetuously on, had struck them down one after another, and his armor-bearer after him had killed those that were not dead. This occurred in the space of about half a furrow in a piece of land which one could plough with a yoke of oxen in a day.7 In the length of about a half-yoke lay the twenty slain Philistines stretched out in a row. Cleric.: “Such apparently was the extent of the point of rock which the Philistines had occupied.” Of the translation of the Sept.: “about twenty men with darts and slings and stones of the field,” Clericus rightly says: “They translated conjecturally what they did not understand.” To Ewald’s rendering “as if a yoke of land were in ploughing” (so Bunsen, who regards this as an extract from a poet) there are, in the first place, two objections: 1) that the word (מנעה) means “furrow,” and not “ploughing,” and 2) that “yoke of land” means not the animals, but the land itself. Further objection to this rendering, especially in reference to the completed fact here related [Ewald represents it as an advancing act, while the first half of the verse speaks of it as finished.—TR.], see in Thenius.—[The Sept. text may easily be gotten from the Heb., omitting the κ. ε. πετρ. as repetition (see Then. and Wellhausen), and gives a better sense. Bib. Com.: “There is nothing remarkable in twenty men being killed in half an acre of land; and moreover the Heb. sentence is extremely obscure, without any apparent reason for its being so. … A measure of time would not be out of place, if the words could mean ‘in about half the time that a yoke of oxen draw a furrow in the field.’ ” Others, less well, understand here a space enclosed by a furrow. Philippson remarks that the ancients were accustomed to measure land by the ploughing of oxen; but the difficulty here is not in the way of stating the land-measure, but in understanding why it is stated. Kitto (Daily Bib. Ill.) gives a good narrative of the exploit of Jonathan. The text must be regarded as unsettled.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:15. The consequence of this bold deed: panic fear among the Philistines. The success of Jonathan’s deed and this consequence are to be explained by supposing that the outposts of the Philistines did not think it possible that the two men could get up, and, when they did, feared that a body of Israelites were behind them, since they could not see down the steep declivity. The camp of the field [Heb.: in the camp (or host) in the field—TR.] is the whole camp of the Philistines; the terror, which had seized all the people of the outposts, now took possession of the principal camp also. The spoilers also, the body of plunderers, trembled. There are many examples in military history of the contagious power of such fright, extending from a few widely out. And the earth quaked is not to be understood of an earthquake, but of the trembling of the ground under the fearful uproar of the Philistines.—And became a terror of God. The phrase “and became” refers to the before-described disaster of the Philistines, all this grew into a “terror of God,” that is, the Philistines recognized herein a mighty help of the God of Israel, by which they had been thrown into this terror. [The natural rendering is “the earth quaked and became a terror of God,” that is, the trembling earth became the sign of the wrathful intervention of God (comp. Vulg.); a miraculous earthquake seems to be here described. Others regard the divine name as a superlative addition, and render “a great (a panic) terror” (Gesen., al.) like “cedars of God” Ps. 80:11, but this is not probable in this prose narrative.—TR.]
5. 1 Samuel 14:16–23. General flight and overthrow of the Philistines in consequence of Jonathan’s exploit.
1 Samuel 14:16. Gibeah of Benjamin is not the present Jeba (Then.), which rather answers to Geba. Though the former was farther from the Philistine camp, we need not be surprised that Saul’s watchmen could see thither, since from their elevated position they could with sharp eyes see what was going on at that distance (nearly five Eng. miles), or, if not, could go nearer.—And behold, the multitude or the tumult—though הַמוֹן may here mean “multitude” (Gesen. s. v.), it is better to render “tumult,” since the narrator has in his eye the crowd thrown into confusion by Jonathan’s attack. This consideration sets aside one of Thenius’ reasons for here also following the free translation of the Sept.;—dispersed hither and thither. It is better to supply “hither” (הֲלים before וַהֲלים), which might easily have fallen out from homœophony; or (with the Rabb. and Ges.) read the Inf. Abs. and render “were more and more broken up.” [For another view see “Text. and Grammat.”—TR.] 1 Samuel 14:17. Saul could explain the affair only as an Israelitish attack. The numbering ordered by him showed that Jonathan and his armor-bearer were missing.
1 Samuel 14:18. Bring hither the ark of God. A change of text (Keil) after the Sept. so as to read: “Bring the ephod, for he wore the ephod at that time before Israel,” on the ground that the ark had been placed in Kirjath-jearim, and was not used in asking questions of God, is suspicious, because the ark, which was thought to be connected with God’s presence, was often taken along to war. Comp. 4:4, 5; 2 Sam. 11:11; 15:24, 25. Why could they not, in accordance with this established custom, have taken it from its usual place in decisive battles, and afterwards carried it back? But it is not said that Saul wished to inquire of God at the ark. He wished first to advance with it against the enemy. But, when he saw that the tumult increased in their camp, and that they were already as good as beaten, he desisted.8 [If Saul had not wished to inquire of God by the ark, he would not have said “bring hither,” (but “carry forward”), nor “withdraw thy hand.” It seems better, therefore, to read ephod, whether we adopt the whole reading of the Sept. or not.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:19. And the tumult. … and it increased more and more is a broken construction, the subject being first put absolutely, and the predicate-sentence put as relative-sentence. Withdraw thy hand; that is, from bringing the ark = desist. Instead (1 Samuel 14:20) of “were assembled, called together” (Niph.), read with Sept. (Alex.), Vulg., Syr., Arab., “shouted” (Qal), for there was no need of an assembly, as they were already there (Then.), and besides, what is the meaning of “and Saul was called together and all the people,” since Saul was the assembler? Translate: And Saul and all the people shouted (raised the war-cry) and advanced to the battle. From this war-cry of the advancing host under Saul that which follows is easily explained. In consequence of the terror thereby produced, the confusion in the Philistine army was very great. That every man’s sword was against his fellow in such confusion (comp. Judg. 7:22; 2 Chron. 20:22, 23) is explained by what is related in 1 Samuel 14:21, 22. There were Hebrews in the host of the Philistines. By this name, the usual one among foreign nations, the Philistines called the Israelites in their midst. The Art. (the Hebrews) refers to the exacter definition in the relative sentence. And the Hebrews were with the Philistines, as formerly, who had gone up with them to the camp. [It is better to insert who (אשר) after “Hebrews,” as in Eng. A. V.—TR.]. Bunsen supposes that these were prisoners, who had hitherto been compelled to fight against their countrymen. Or, they may have been levies from the part of the land which the Philistines held. To render “divided out roundabout among the Philistines” gives no good sense; the idea of “roundabout” is inappropriate to the whole situation. It is therefore better to read,9 with Sept., Vulg., Chald., Syr., Thenius, Buns., “turned.” The otherwise insuperable difficulty in the Infin. thus vanishes, and we render: “these also turned to be with Israel;” that is, went over to Israel. This, of course, they could not do without turning their arms against their oppressors. In addition to these (1 Samuel 14:22) came all the Israelites who had been in hiding on the mountains of Ephraim; when they heard of the flight of the Philistines, they too joined in the pursuit.
1 Samuel 14:23 1) affirms that this fortunate achievement was due to the help of the Lord, and 2) states the direction which the battle took. The battle passed over to Bethaven. Between this statement that the fight moved northeast10 from Michmash to Bethaven, and that in 1 Samuel 14:31, that the Philistines were smitten that day from Michmash to Ajalon [west], an insoluble contradiction† has been discovered, and it has been proposed to read Bethhoron (which lay west of Michmash) instead of Bethaven. But such a contradiction cannot be admitted, because the movements in such a battle are so fluctuating. Here in 1 Samuel 14:23 we have an account of the battle which continued, and passed, not far from Michmash indeed, over to Bethaven in a northeasterly direction; in 1 Samuel 14:31 is an account of the completed battle, and the final result is given, which is naturally this, that the Philistines, drawn by the Israelites from their native land towards Bethaven, fled, the greater part of them at least, westward, and were beaten as far as Ajalon. Bunsen: “In general the flight of the Philistines was naturally westward (1 Samuel 14:31), yet no exception can on that account be taken to our passage.”
6. 1 Samuel 14:24–31. Saul’s rash order. Between 1 Samuel 14:23 and 1 Samuel 14:24 the Sept. has: “And the whole people was with Saul about ten thousand men, and the battle spread in the whole city in the mountains of Ephraim. And Saul committed a great error” (that day and adjured). This is an explanatory addition to the original text with whose curtness it does not harmonize. It is not in itself improbable that the original six hundred men should grow to this large body in the course of the battle, and that the fight should extend over the mountains of Ephraim is to be expected from the dispersed condition of the Philistines, and is even indicated in the end of 1 Samuel 14:23. The phrase “in the whole city” has arisen from a misreading of the following word “wood” (ביער).—The Masoretic text is short, sharp, and to the point, corresponding to Saul’s position and conduct as here described.—And the men of Israel were distressed that day. In 1 Samuel 13:6 the same word (נגשׁ) is used to express the oppressed condition of the Israelites. Here it is Saul that presses and drives the people in the pursuit of the Philistines. The word means “harassed, wearied out,” and Thenius’ objection that one does not see by whom or by what the Israelites were pressed, explains itself.—The wearied condition of the people made Saul fear that the pursuit of the Philistines would thereby be interrupted, and the honor of the day for him diminished. And Saul adjured the people.11—He made them swear an oath—bound them by an oath. Cursed be the man that eateth food until evening and I be avenged on my enemies.—Saul’s passionate zeal, spurred on by selfishness, self-will and personal desire for revenge causes him to lose sight of the command of nature, to act cruelly towards his brave warriors, and over and beyond to injure his cause. “Blind zeal only hurts.” Berlenb. Bible: “In this prohibition there was a secret pride and misuse of power, for he desired to force, as it were, a complete victory, and then appropriate the glory of it to himself.” The people kept the oath even under the strongest temptation to break it.
1 Samuel 14:25. And the whole land came into the wood.—The “land” is put for the people, as appears from 1 Samuel 14:26. Comp. Jer. 22:29. The honey which they found in the forest on the ground flowing (הֵלֶךְ דְּבַשׁ) was not that honey-like substance which is found on the leaves of certain bushes and taken off them, but real honey from bees who built on trunks of trees or in clefts of rocks, which, as Schultz (Leistungen, V. 133) has seen in the wilderness of Judea, often flows in streams on the ground from the over-full and pressed honey-structure (comp. Deut. 32:13; Judg. 14:8; Ps. 81:17).
1 Samuel 14:26. On account of the oath no one partook of the refreshing food which thus presented itself.
1 Samuel 14:27. Jonathan, however, had not heard the oath of his father. He dips his staff into the honey and eats, in accordance with the haste of the pursuit—that is, into the honey-comb (Sept.: κηρίον; Vulg.: favum, the comb, not the liquid honey), which presented itself; into the comb, not the liquid honey, because only in this way could he get enough with the tip of his staff. Instead of “saw” (Kethib) read “were enlightened” (Qeri); see a similar transposition in Heb. in 2 Sam. 24:20, comp. 5:16. The word describes the bodily and mental refreshment, the reviving of soul, which shows itself straightway in the eyes.
1 Samuel 14:28. The last words: “And the people are faint” are spoken by the man who tells Jonathan of the oath of his father, and at the same time stand in contrast with the refreshment which Jonathan had indulged himself in.
1 Samuel 14:29 sq. Jonathan’s disapproval of his father’s conduct by pointing to the injury he has thus done the land and people: “My father has troubled (עכר, perturbare), brought disaster on the land” (Genesis 34:30; Josh. 6:18; Judg. 4:35). The disaster is this: that the people, wearied with the battle, had lost all strength by the lack of nourishing food (אָבֹל אָכַל). The defeat of the Philistines was thus less complete than it would otherwise have been (1 Samuel 14:29).12 Maurer renders as independent sentence: “for now the slaughter of the Philistines is not very great.”
1 Samuel 14:31. See on 1 Samuel 14:23. Ajalon, the present village Yâlo, in the southeast end of a valley extending westward from Bethhoron. Rob. Later Bib. Res. 188 [Am. ed. III. 145—and II. 253, 254; 14 miles out of Jerusalem, Smith’s B. D.—TR.] The mention of the great weariness and exhaustion of the people concludes the account of Saul’s rash conduct, and leads to the statement of its consequences.
7. 1 Samuel 14:32–46. The consequences of Saul’s overhaste, and the end of the battle.
1 Samuel 14:32.13 And the people flew upon the prey—that is, as soon as it was evening, comp. 1 Samuel 14:24. The same expression in 15:19. The people slew the animals to the earth, down to the ground, and then ate “upon (or, over) the blood,” blood being on the bodies because they were on the ground, and so “with the blood.” On the preposition (עַל) see Ex. 12:8 [Eng. A. V.: “with”], where also it introduces the basis or accompaniments of the food. The people transgressed the command in Lev. 19:26: “Ye shall not eat on blood” [Eng. A. V.: “with”], that is, no flesh under which or on which there is blood. This is an extension of the prohibition of eating blood in Lev. 3:17; 17:10, 11, which is based on the fact that the blood is conceived of as the seat and bearer of the life.
1 Samuel 14:33. The people’s eating is characterized as a sinning against the Lord.14 Saul calls this conduct faithlessness, because the law of the covenant was transgressed. For now the Sept. has (unnecessarily) hither. [The הַיּוֹם, “to-day,” “this day,” is here not well rendered by “now,” which would be עָתַּה; the Sept. reading is better.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:34. Saul directs his informants to disperse themselves among the people, and announce that every one should bring his beast to him, and slay here on the great stone, that there might be no sinful eating.15 Saul’s command, which speaks for his careful observance of the Law, was carried out by the people. As every where before, so here the people display unconditional obedience to Saul. Only by slaughtering on the stone was it possible to separate the blood from the flesh. When the slaughtering occurred, the night had already set in. The Sept. reading: “what was in his hand” instead of “his ox in his hand” [Eng. A. V.: “with him”] is unnecessary.
1 Samuel 14:35. Saul built the altar to the Lord as thanksgiving for this victory over the Philistines. The same he began to build—that is, he built this as the first, comp. Gesen. § 142, A. 1. [Bib. Comm.: “began to build, but did not finish,” as 1 Chr. 27:24. So Abarbanel; but, according to the Midrash, Saul began among the kings the building of altars (Philippson). Wordsworth: It seems to be implied that this was the first time he had made acknowledgment to God for his successes.—TR.] Probably he here used the great stone which he had caused to be brought. He thus established a place for the worship of God in commemoration of this victory.
1 Samuel 14:36. He is, however, not satisfied with the defeat of the Philistines, but proposes to spoil them that night till the morning. According to Jonathan’s statement, indeed, the defeat was not total. Saul rushes on in his wild desire of revenge, perhaps incited by the consciousness of having committed a gross folly, and thereby hindered the victory—and this he will now make good. The people are again ready immediately to carry out his desire. The priest, however, desires first to have the decision of the Lord. “Hither,” that is, to the altar which had been built. [Patrick: because it was dangerous to undertake any thing without God’s advice. Bib. Comm.: because the priest doubted whether Saul’s ardor was a righteous one, and bravely stood in its way.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:37. The inquiry of the Lord was conducted by the high-priest Ahiah through the Urim and Thummim.16 The Lord shall say whether the Philistines are to be pursued, and whether He has delivered them into Israel’s hands. There are therefore two questions: whether further pursuit? whether happy result? The failure of a divine answer is for Saul a sign that there is a fault somewhere, on account of which the Lord is silent and does not promise His help.
1 Samuel 14:38. Chief (פִּנָּה “corner,” “point”), the principal men, the heads of the people (Judg. 20:2), probably the elders (Num. 11:30). The whole people are called by their representatives, to find out “wherein (or whereby) this sin hath been this day.” There is no need to read (with Then. after Vulg.: per quem—and Sept.: ἐν τίνι) “on whom (בַּמִּי) this sin rests,” instead of “wherein” (בַּמָּה). Rather the thing than the person was here first to be regarded, since the question was of an offence unatoned for,—which, however, indeed, could not be fixed without at the same time discovering the person.
1 Samuel 14:39. After the first כִּי [here=“because,” “for”], which gives the ground, follows a second and a third, the former introducing the declaration, the latter resuming it after the parenthesis. The silence of the people is (as appears from 1 Samuel 14:45) sign of their conviction that Jonathan had done nothing wrong. [Perhaps, also, sign of their regard for Jonathan. It does not seem that Saul was here guilty of profanity (Bib. Comm.), since he may have used the divine name reverently (the expression was very common among the Israelites), but he is guilty (Bib. Comm.) of further rashness.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:40. Saul proceeds to decide what was the offence which prevented the divine answer. The means which Saul here employs reminds us of how Samuel (10:20, 21) by the lot as means of divine decision presented Saul to the people as the king chosen by the Lord. While in the great double question in 1 Samuel 14:37 Saul had applied to the Lord by Urim and Thummim, and by His silence received also an answer, and that a decisive one, he now, in order to discover the cause of this divine decision, employs the lot, as is clear from the words “taken” [1 Samuel 14:41] and “cast” [1 Samuel 14:42] (comp. 10:20 sq.), which are never used in connection with Urim and Thummim. The people, who had not answered him when he swore a second rash oath in which he recognized the possibility of Jonathan’s guilt and death, now expressly approved his arrangements, but silently decided for Jonathan’s innocence and exemption from punishment. Saul (1 Samuel 14:41) before the casting turns to God with the cry “give (or establish) right.” תָמִים, “unpunishable,” then “exemption from punishment,” “innocence,” “right,” “truth.” So Judg. 9:16, 19; Josh. 24:14. The result of the trial is that Jonathan is taken, 1 Samuel 14:42.—The Vulgate agrees with the Heb. in 1 Samuel 14:41 only in the beginning and end: “and Saul said to the Lord God of Israel—and Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people went out.” The intermediate words agree in part with the Sept., which in 1 Samuel 14:41, 42, has a long paraphrase. In this Then. and Ew. see a part of the original text, reading תֻּמִּים [Thummim] for תָּמִים, and finding here the complete formula which was employed in the use of Urim and Thummim. Against which Keil justly remarks, that there is no sign here of the use of Urim and Thummim, since the words in 1 Samuel 14:41 are provably never used of it, but always of the lot, and it is clear from passages like 10:22 and 2 Sam. 5:23 that Urim and Thummim did not consist merely in answering Yes and No, but God by it gave answers, which could by no means be gotten by the lot. The Sept. reading is, therefore, nothing but a subjective and erroneous opinion of the translators.
1 Samuel 14:43 sq. Jonathan thinks death unavoidable: Lo, I must die.—Saul confirms this with an oath: “God do so and more also,” comp. 3:17. Both hold the erroneous opinion that a sinful promise or oath must be kept. That the lot fell on Jonathan meant only, as a divine disposition, that the person was discovered on whom, according to Saul’s opinion, rested the fault, by reason of which God’s answer to his question was silence. Against both rises the people’s voice as the voice of God. The question [1 Samuel 14:45] “Shall Jonathan die?” and the answer: “Far be it,” express the sorrowful astonishment and the energetic protest of the people who were inspired by Jonathan’s heroic deed and its brilliant result. But the decisive fact for the people was the firm conviction that God was with him and carried out through him this deed of deliverance. Over against Saul’s oath the people set their own: “As the Lord liveth, there shall not a hair of his head fall to the ground.” To the second “wrought” (1 Samuel 14:45) supply the object of the first: “this great salvation.” “And the people rescued him,” not, as Ewald says, by putting another to die in his stead, but solely by their energetic protest, in the face of which Saul is obliged to let his oath go unfulfilled. For a similar intervention of the people see Liv. 8:35.—[Patrick: They did not rescue him by force and violence, but by their petition to Saul and the reason they gave for it. Josephus saith that “by their prayers and vows to God they delivered him.” They were too forward indeed to swear directly against Saul’s oath; but of the two, his being the most rash, God was pleased to annul it, and absolve him from it.—Wordworth: Observe the humiliation to which Saul is reduced by his disobedience.—Kitto: The enlightened consciences and generous enthusiasm of the people.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:46. The closing statement. Saul desisted from further pursuit of the Philistines, with whose overthrow as far as it could be effected under the harmful consequences of his blind zeal, he had to be contented. The Philistines went back to their own land. In spite of this serious defeat their strength was not broken (comp. 1 Samuel 14:52). The fact that Saul desisted from pursuit shows that he understood the Lord’s silence as a denial, and was obliged to recognize as the cause of it not Jonathan’s conduct, but his own arbitrary and rash procedure.
II. Summary account of Saul’s wars and family-relations. 1 Samuel 14:47–52
1 Samuel 14:47, 48. And Saul had taken the kingdom, then he fought, or: “When Saul had taken the kingdom, he fought.” The words do not stand in pragmatical connection with the preceding narrative of the battle against the Philistines, as if the intention was to state that thus (by this victory) Saul gained royal authority (Then., Keil). His accession to the throne is mentioned merely as starting-point for the historical-statistical statement of the various wars which he carried on from the beginning of his government. The already-related war against the Ammonites is here again mentioned, and of the war against the Philistines it is said, in accordance with the design of this interposed section, at the end (1 Samuel 14:52), that it extended throughout his whole reign. His whole government was a warlike one. Wars are here mentioned, of which nothing is elsewhere said. What is said of his wars before and after this is determined by the theocratic point of view, and is designed to show how Saul, in fulfilling his royal calling (essentially a warlike one), came into principial17 conflict with the theocratic task and significance of the kingdom, and therefore incurred of necessity the judgment of God. The wars, which he had to carry on with his enemies roundabout, are the following: against the Moabites and Ammonites in the East, against the Edomites in the South, against the kings of Zobah in the Northeast (Zobah, a district of Syria, lay probably north-east of Damascus, between the Euphrates and the Orontes, see 2 Sam. 8:3 [“perhaps included the eastern flank of the mountain-chain which shuts in Cœle-Syria on that side, the high land about Aleppo, and the more northern portion of the Syrian desert” (Geo. Rawlinson in Smith B. D.).—TR.]), and against the Philistines in the West. Thus the “roundabout” is pictured to us. The word יַרְשִׁיעַ [Eng. A. V. “vexed”18] indicates the point of view from which these wars are to be regarded as victories: he declared guilty (Keil: by deeds), the Hiph. [causative] of the verb being often used of judges (Ex. 22:8; Deut. 25:1; Job 32:3), he inflicted punishment, or executed judgment against these nations, because they warred against God’s people and thus opposed the Lord’s designs with respect to Israel. They were national wars, which Saul carried on for the honor of the Lord and of His people.—Saul’s development of power against the Amalekites is made specially prominent; he “gathered strength” [וַֹיַּעַשׂ חַיִל, Eng. A. V. incorrectly: “gathered a host”]. This war against the robbing, plundering hereditary enemy, the Amalekites, is in the next chapter described “from the theocratical point of view” (Then.).
1 Samuel 14:49–51. Saul’s household and family. Three sons are mentioned: Jonathan, Ishwi and Malchishua. Instead of Ishwi in 31:2; 1 Chron. 8:33; 9:39, is Abinadab. In the last two passages a fourth is named, Eshbaal,19 who is certainly the same with Ishbosheth, 2 Sam. 2:8. The daughters: Merab and Michal.—Saul’s wife: Ahinoam, a daughter of Ahimaaz.—[Bib. Comm.: “It is not improbable that Ahimaaz may have been of the priestly family (Ahimaaz was son of Zadok, 2 Sam. 15:36), and perhaps it may have been owing to such a connection that Ahijah was brought into prominence by Saul. If there is any truth in the above supposition, it would be an indication that Saul was not married till after his election to the throne.” But to this last there are serious objections, especially the age of Jonathan, and the whole is a mere conjecture.—TR.]—Saul’s captain of the host, general-in-chief, Abiner, abbreviated (1 Samuel 14:51) Abner, his cousin; in the next verse this relationship is stated more fully: Kish, Saul’s father, and Neri, Abner’s father, were sons of Abiel.20
1 Samuel 14:52 connects itself as to subject-matter with 1 Samuel 14:46, in order, after the general view of Saul’s wars, to show that he had to carry on a hard struggle with one of these peoples, the Philistines, all his life, and so give the ground for the necessity that Saul was under, of forming and maintaining a central body of markedly valiant men about him. This finishes the historical-statistical sketch of Saul as a warrior-prince, to which belongs also from this point of view the mention of his three sons, who fell in battle with him (31:2), and of Abner, his general. The national-historical significance of Saul as a king whose mission was essentially that of a warrior is thereby definitely characterized. At the same time the description of Saul as theocratic king is here ended. In what follows is shown how the Lord transferred the theocratic mission from him to another man. Ewald: According to the prophetical perception of the Work, Saul ceases with chap. 14. to be the true king, and therefore the history of his reign is here concluded with the necessary general remarks about him.”—We cannot (with Then.) hold that the remark (1 Samuel 14:52) “when Saul saw any strong or valiant man, he took him,” is intended to introduce the narrative of David’s coming to Saul after the victory over Goliath (18:2), on the ground that here it drags too much after what precedes. It would, if we accepted Thenius’ view, stand too abruptly and too far from this narrative of David. It rather concludes the foregoing account, and connects itself with the account of the first formation of a standing army by a levy from the people (13:2).
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. The history of Saul up to this time shows with what splendid gifts he was endowed for the fulfilment of his theocratic royal calling, to free from their enemies, especially the Philistines (9:16), the covenant-people, who had been united and raised into a new religious-moral life by Samuel. The following narrative of his victorious wars against the enemies of God’s people proves that he fulfilled his war-mission. “A knightly king stood at the head of the people, who formed about him a school of heroes and drew to him a vigorous army, and a knightly spirit pervaded the whole people. But Saul led the way in warlike spirit no less than in all virtues of self-denial and self-discipline,—he was a warrior-hero, who maintained on the throne the moderation of his former life.” (Schlier., 25 [König Saul, 9]).
2. Yet there shows itself in the development of Saul’s inner life (13, 14) a principle, which is directly in conflict with the theocratic principle of the Israelitish kingdom: that of human self-will, which does not subject itself in humility and unconditional believing obedience to the divine will, and fails to establish the absolute supremacy of the latter among the people of God. At the beginning of the fulfilment of his warrior-calling against the Philistines Saul was put to the proof, whether in his royal office he would master his own will and yield unconditional obedience to the word and will of God as true king of His people. This test Saul did not stand, when he was required to follow the divine directions as given him by Samuel’s mouth, which should have been for him God’s mouth. As bearer of the theocratic-royal office bestowed on him, he set himself in conflict with the theocratic-prophetic watch-office, which Samuel held that he might be the organ of the royal will and command of the covenant-God of Israel. He thus denied the principle of the unconditional sovereignty of God, which was to be set forth and unfolded in his kingdom. It was therefore certain that God’s holiness and justice could not permit his kingdom to be permanent (13:13, 14).
3. The first test of faith, which Saul had to submit to, was a theocratic necessity; for Saul must first prove to the Lord by deeds that he wished to be unconditionally subject to the Lord’s will, to yield obedience (putting down all self-will) to His word which was to be revealed to him by prophets, and to trust alone to His help. Such tests as Saul had to stand, are, in the life of princes and peoples, as of individuals, in the church as in every member of God’s people, of divine significance; failure to stand them leads away from the Lord, brings to naught the Lord’s purposes, results in misfortune and destruction. The individual elements of Saul’s probation, the typical significance of which elements for all times and circumstances of the kingdom of God is obvious, are found partly in his outward position, partly in his inner life. The external position of Saul, as to time and place, was one of extreme distress. In consequence of Jonathan’s successful coup de main, the Philistines were advancing with a powerful army. The people of Israel, whom he had summoned after Jonathan’s heroic exploit (13:3) to battle against the Philistines, became disheartened and despondent, and dispersed themselves; even the permanent band, which he had gathered around him, lost courage and began to disband. The seventh day had come, and Samuel, who had bidden him wait till he came to Gilgal to sacrifice for the people and announce God’s will, had not yet made his appearance. This distressing and dangerous position (as he himself 13:11, 12 intimates) gave occasion in his heart to the temptation to act contrary to God’s will and command. In the first place fear of the threatening dangers seized on his heart; to fear joined itself impatience, which prevented him from waiting out the time appointed by Samuel; alongside of the impatience was doubt of the trustworthiness of the divine promise given him through Samuel; this produced unquiet in his mind, which drove him to take self-willed measures to help himself, and dissipated more and more his trust in God; then came sophistical calculation by his carnally obscured understanding; his heart-frame towards God of immovable trust and unconditional obedience was given up. It was the root of unbelief from which all this sprang.—The consequences of this unstood trial of faith show themselves straightway in two directions: 1) for Saul’s inner life: over against Samuel, or, what is the same thing, over against the holy and just God (who had addressed Himself to his conscience through Samuel’s question “what hast thou done?”) he does not follow the exhortation of his conscience, sorrowfully and penitently to confess his guilt, but, on the one hand, he seeks to excuse and justify himself by pointing to the certainly threatening dangers, as if he had done nothing but his duty, carrying his defence to the extent of an untrue reproach of Samuel (“thou camest not at the set time”), and, on the other hand, he declares his conduct to be thoroughly pious and God-fearing, affirming that he desired simply before the battle began to seek in sacrifice the Lord’s face, while in fact this sacrifice against Samuel’s express command had its deepest root in the unbelief of his heart, wherein he turned from God to his own flesh and blood, and showed himself openly disobedient to the will of God. The self-justification of the impenitent heart leads to unclearness and untruthfulness, since lies and truth are mixed together; self-justification before the Lord is inseparable from self-deceit and hypocrisy. Here begins the unsteadiness and passionate character of Saul’s inner life, as we see it afterwards (chap. 14) time and again, in all the external success of his arms, in all the prosperity of his warlike enterprises. 2) In respect to his theocratic royal calling followed the divine judgment: “Thy kingdom shall not stand, for thou hast not kept the command of the Lord.” The house of Saul, which otherwise would have held the theocratic kingdom permanently, is here declared to have lost it, because Saul had not fulfilled the fundamental condition of unconditional obedience of faith. The judicial sentence is more fully expressed after the second trial (chap. 15). There the divine judgment proceeds further to reject his person in consequence of continued disobedience; here we have first the rejection of his house, so far as, beginning from him, it might have become the permanent possessor of the theocratic royalty. The divine judgment, which is completed by this word of Samuel, was a righteous one, for “in this way Saul strove, so far as in him lay, to change the Israelitish theocracy (in which God would be King of Israel and by His servants, the prophets, rule in affairs of state and war) into such a kingdom as the heathen had, whose kings did everything according to their own pleasure. Saul strove after unrestrained freedom and authority, but thus became a slave to desire, driven by an evil spirit, and ripe for speedy destruction” (Roos, Einl. in d. bibl. Gesch. [Introd. to Bib. Hist.], 2, 271).
4. Jonathan’s second bold deed of arms (14:1–15) is, in contrast with Saul’s failure to stand the trial of faith, an example of victorious heroic faith, which consists in unconditional but humble reliance on the almighty help of the Lord (“perhaps the Lord will, etc.,” 14:6), does not, in this confident reliance, fearfully weigh and reckon the much or little of human means of accomplishment (“there is no restraint to the Lord, etc.,” 14:6), but yet wisely and prudently observes the signs given by the Lord, governs its conduct by them, and then in God’s power performs great things (“there came a fright of God,” 14:15).
5. Saul’s conduct after his fall in the first probation of faith is an illustration of the fact that, when man’s heart has lost its right attitude towards the Lord, his whole life, both in its religious and its moral aspect, loses truth and steadfastness. In accordance with the pretext (13:12) that he must seek the Lord’s face before the battle, Saul afterwards heaps up proofs of piety and godliness: he calls for the ark of God [or, the ephod—TR.] (1 Samuel 13:18), is zealous against the transgression of the prohibition of eating blood (1 Samuel 13:33 sq.), builds an altar to the Lord (1 Samuel 13:35), asks counsel of God as to further military undertakings (1 Samuel 13:37), swears by the Lord, the Deliverer of Israel, to punish the concealed sin of the people (1 Samuel 13:39), and calls on him to decide where the wrong is (1 Samuel 13:41). When the heart has lost its proper attitude towards God of humble obedient faith, and will not return to God in honest penitence, there springs up the delusion that one may satisfy God and one’s own conscience by pious deeds. The spur of an evil conscience drives us to the hypocrisy of a forced piety and of legal zeal for the honor of the Lord, while we put our own honor in the place of His. It is characteristic that, after that scene with Samuel, whose words did not bend and break his heart into honest repentance, Saul loses all moral stead-fastness. By God’s help the victory over the Philistines is gained (1 Samuel 13:23), the enemy’s whole army is routed and fleeing. Saul, instead of thanking the Lord and granting his tired-out people some refreshment, is inflamed with fleshly zeal, which shows itself (1 Samuel 13:24) in his purpose straightway to annihilate the enemy, and his consequent adjuration of his army not to eat anything till evening. In the thoughtlessness and precipitancy of his warlike ardor, he speaks the traitorous word “till I have avenged myself on my enemies,” showing that he puts himself in the Lord’s place, and forgets that the question was of the Lord’s honor against His enemies and His people’s. Saul is zealous for his own honor, for his right and his glory. It is this that makes him blind, so that he wishes to destroy the enemy till evening with people exhausted by a hot contest, without granting them rest and refreshment, cruelly and despotically ignoring natural human rights and needs, and, in addition, enforces his command by an oath. Such thoughtless and over-hasty conduct could, as Jonathan distinctly says (1 Samuel 13:29), only bring destruction. Saul’s people, harassed by his blind ardor, could not do what they ought. The defeat of the Philistines was not as great as it would have been if rest and refreshment had been allowed (1 Samuel 13:30). The strength of the people was broken (1 Samuel 13:31). From the sinful root of Saul’s fleshly ardor comes one evil fruit after another. The famished people, in consequence of his prohibition, rush ravenously on the animals, do not take time to separate blood from flesh, eat the flesh in its blood, and thus transgress the Lord’s command. In the night Saul wishes to pursue the Philistines farther, in order to destroy them completely. But God checks him in this through the high-priest. So little does he recognize the fact that he is to blame for the incompleteness of the victory, that he wishes to slay Jonathan, who is wholly free from blame, for his unconscious transgression of his arbitrary and unjustifiable prohibition. The name of the Lord is invoked by Saul more than is necessary, and misused to cover his perverse disposition of heart. In overhaste and blind zeal he swears an oath, which, though convinced of its hostile operation, he wishes to keep, but cannot and is not allowed to keep. So it goes from sin to sin after humble faith in the Lord is once given up; in spite of all religious zeal and zeal for duty and calling, by which it is hoped to win God’s approbation and heal the wound of a bad conscience, there remains the inner discord, and, if there come no true repentance and conversion, a condition of inner life must result like Saul’s when the Spirit of the Lord left him and the evil spirit came over him.
6. There is here (1 Samuel 13:24–26) a six-fold testimony against Saul: 1) The word of his own mouth: “till I have avenged myself on my enemies,” 1 Samuel 13:24; 2) The word of his son: “my father troubles the land,” 1 Samuel 13:29; 3) The failure of the pursuit of the Philistines, 1 Samuel 13:30, 31; 4) the Lord’s silence when he was inquired of, 1 Samuel 13:37; 5) The silence of the people at his oath, 1 Samuel 13:39; 6) the decision of the people, 1 Samuel 13:45, by which God’s decision was made apparent, and Saul’s conflict with the Lord and himself shown to be a conflict also with the people, who recognized God’s hand and will better than he. On God’s side there are not lacking co-working means by which man, when he detaches himself from God, may be brought to consider himself and return to God. And if he do not return, it is because of the energy with which the human will persistently follows its own path, and rejects all God’s exhortations and influences.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 13:1–15. The test to which faith is put: 1) When the need rises higher and higher, and threatens destruction. 2) When the divine help comes not at the expected hour. 3) When human support wholly fails. 4) When one’s own heart doubts and is afraid.
1 Samuel 13:8–15. Doubt of the heart tempted by unbelief as to the Lord’s power and help: 1) Its root in the yet unconquered self (self-love, self-will, self-conceit). 2) Its manifestation in disobedience to the will of the Lord. 3) Its fruit the loss of the blessings of divine grace.
The question of conscience: What hast thou done? 1) What it signifies in the sight of the Lord (1 Samuel 13:8–10). 2) With what excuses an evil conscience answers it (1 Samuel 13:11, 12). 3) What judicial answer the word of God gives to it (1 Samuel 13:13, 14).
The steps in the fall from faith into unbelief: 1) Unrest through doubt and fear. 2) Sin in impatience and disobedience. 3) Excuses that have no ground. 4) Accusation by God’s Spirit. 5) Sentence by God’s word.—[It is questionable whether we should regard Saul as having had true faith in God.—TR.]
J. DISSELHOFF: First steps towards the fall of an already approved servant of God: 1) From what hidden corner of the heart has come forth the stumbling-block which made him stumble. 2) What has hindered him, after stumbling, from again walking upright on his feet.—[HENRY: It is not sinning that ruins men, but sinning and not repenting; falling and not getting up again.—TR.]
[1 Samuel 13:14. HENRY: Was not this hard, to pass so severe a sentence upon him and his house for a single error, and that seemed so small, and in excuse for which he had so much to say? No. (1) The Lord here shows that there is no sin little, because no little God to sin against. (2) He shows that disobedience to an express command, though in a small matter, is a great provocation; as in the case of our first parents. (3) He warns us to take heed of our spirits; for that which to men may seem but a small offence, yet to Him that knows from what principle, and with what disposition of mind it is done, may appear a heinous crime.—TR.]
[1 Samuel 13:6, 7. “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”
1 Samuel 13:10. A few minutes more, and how great a calamity might have been averted, how great a blessing gained! (Saul could wait no longer, and yet Samuel came when he had just finished the burnt-offering, and had not yet offered the peace-offering, 1 Samuel 13:9.)
1 Samuel 13:12. “And I forced myself.” Reluctant and self-deceived disobedience.
1 Samuel 13:13. The folly of disobeying God.
1 Samuel 13:14. “Jehovah hath sought him a man after his own heart:” 1) A man devout, not merely by fits and starts, but profoundly and habitually. 2) A man not self-willed, who would rule according to the command of God through the prophets. 3) A man who when he had done wrong would penitently submit to God’s chastening, invincibly trust in God’s goodness, and faithfully strive to live more according to God’s will. (In these and similar points, Saul and David might be contrasted.) MAURICE: This was the man after God’s own heart, the man who thoroughly believed in God, as a living and righteous Being; who in all changes of fortune clung to that conviction; who could act upon it, live upon it; who could give himself up to God to use him as He pleased; who could be little or great, popular or contemptible, just as God saw fit that he should be. … How many of us feel that those who have committed grave outward transgressions may nevertheless have had hearts which answered more to God’s heart, which entered far more into the grief and the joy of His Spirit, than ours ever did! (See the whole Sermon in “Prophets and Kings.”)—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:1 sqq. S. SCHMID: When God has resolved to accomplish something great and wonderful through a man, He knows how in a wonderful manner so to move his spirit that, without tempting God and with a believing heart, he attempts that which is above his nature and his power.
1 Samuel 14:6. Berlenb. Bible: “There is no restraint to the Lord,” etc. These words have such force that nothing can be added to them without abating their force. In so saying Jonathan goes through all apparent great perils with a spirit becoming a soul at once righteous and composed. It is true, O God, that it is no harder for Thee to deliver us by few than by many. Our strength counts for as little before Thee as our weakness.—The measure of faith is also the measure of God’s help. Such a soul undertakes everything with heartiness because it does not long consider. It knows that God can do everything, and that is enough for it. The more it doubts, too, its own powers, the more it trusts the power of God.—S. SCHMID: Two points has a pious man in his performances especially to observe: one is that his faith shall confide in God’s promise; the other, that he shall not doubt God’s almightiness.—[Hope, founded on faith: 1) It is certain—a matter of faith—that the Lord can save by many or by few. 2) It may be—a matter of hope—that He will work for us. (People often say: “I have faith that we shall succeed in this enterprise.” That is not properly a matter of faith, but only of hope. We believe that God can give success when it is His will; we are persuaded that our enterprise is righteous and would have desirable results; therefore we hope that it may prove to be God’s will to give us success.)—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:18, 19. STARKE: That is the way with all hypocrites; when a rainburst of misfortune falls upon them, they are quite devout, pray industriously and seek defence and protection from God; but when the storm is past they run off again, and ask not after God, Luke 17:17.—[WORDSWORTH: Saul is a specimen of that class of persons who show a certain reverence and zeal for the outward forms of religion, and even a superstitious reliance on them, but are not careful to cherish the inner spirit of vital religion.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:23. The Scriptures ascribe everything to God. And in order not to ascribe everything to the creature, they do not say: Jonathan delivered Israel, but, God saved Israel. From this we can see that a soul which truly resigns itself to God is in His hand only a poor instrument, which He is wont to use with greater advantage the less it works anything of itself, but merely follows the hand and the will of God.
1 Samuel 14:24. [WORDSWORTH: Observe his egotism. He does not call them the enemies of the Lord, but he says: “that I may be avenged on mine enemies;” and he speaks in this self-confident tone even after that the Lord had just marvellously interfered to save Israel.—TR]—CRAMER: To make a vow inconsiderately is censurable, and woe to those who deliberate without consulting God, Isa. 30:1.—HALL: Hypocrisy is always covered with a blind and ungrateful zeal, Rom. 10:2.—S. SCHMID: The lack of foresight in those who fancy themselves quite too wise or are carried away by violent passions often lets the fairest opportunity of accomplishing something good slip between the hands.
1 Samuel 14:32. S. SCHMID: A sin seldom remains alone, and from one error always arise several others.—HALL: A hasty vow commonly brings much mischief after it.
1 Samuel 14:33. Berlenb. Bible: Thus do hypocrites know how to see evil in others, but not in themselves.—OSIANDER: That is the way with hypocrites, they will never be guilty, but others shall always be so.
1 Samuel 14:35. CRAMER: Hypocrites have the appearance of holiness; but the power of godliness they deny, 2 Tim. 3:5: Ezek. 33:31.—OSIANDER: Hypocrites wish to be regarded as if they were promoting the honor of God and of His name, and yet in fact are seeking nothing but their own honor.
1 Samuel 14:36. STARKE: A Christian should begin nothing till he is first assured of the divine will.—Berlenb. Bible: Saul as a picture of stout self-reliance always wishes only to carry out his purposes without God, to get booty, make the victory greater, annihilate the enemy. It never came into his head to ask God’s counsel.
1 Samuel 14:38, 39. CRAMER: God’s eyes look at faith, and without that it is impossible to please God, Jer. 5:3; Heb. 11:6.—S. SCHMID: Unjust sentences and rash oaths should not be approved, but condemned at least by silence.
1 Samuel 14:40. S. SCHMID: It is wise conduct not to oppose the authorities, but to be pleased with their words and works, so long as God’s word and conscience permit.
1 Samuel 14:42–44. S. SCHMID: He who has a good conscience is not afraid of God’s judgment, John 3:21. To push justice to extremes is often to do the greatest injustice.—[SCOTT: Those who are indulgent to their own sins are generally severe in animadverting on the sins of others; and such as most disregard God’s authority are most impatient when their own commands appear to be slighted.—TR.]
1 Samuel 14:1–15. The believing spirit of God’s soldiers against the enemies of God’s kingdom: 1) It confers not with flesh and blood, but makes the boldest ventures alone with its God (1 Samuel 14:1–3). 2) It shrinks not back before the greatest difficulties and perils (1 Samuel 14:1–6). 3) It humbly leaves success to the Lord (1 Samuel 14:6, “perhaps,” etc.). 4) It trusts alone in God’s almightiness without regard to human might (1 Samuel 14:6, “there is … to the Lord,” etc.). 5) It marks the signs from the Lord, by which it becomes certain of its success (1 Samuel 14:7–12). 6) It gains, by God’s help, a glorious victory (1 Samuel 14:13–15).
1 Samuel 14:16–23. The Lord helps His people in the conflict against their enemies, in that 1) He suddenly and unexpectedly defeats them upon hidden paths and in a wonderful manner (1 Samuel 14:16–19); 2) He brings their enemies into confusion and causes them to turn their weapons against each other (1 Samuel 14:20); 3) The forces of His people that had yielded He rescues again and brings them back to His side (1 Samuel 14:21), and 4) the disheartened and despairing He collects again to His host, to be partakers in His victory.
1 Samuel 14:24–46. The folly of those who let themselves be ruled by carnal zeal: 1) They are thoughtless and over-hasty in their resolutions; 2) They are unintelligent and err in the means for their aim; 3) Falling heels over head they miss the goal; 4) Led astray, they carry away with them into error and sin the men who are under their influence; 5) While in self-seeking and self-will striving after good reputation before God and men, they must before God and men be put to shame.
1 Samuel 14:35–46. The exhortation, Let us draw near hither unto God. 1) Whereon it rests. (a) On the nearness of God to us; (b) on our duty in all things to place ourselves before God’s face. 2) What it aims at. (a) The clear knowledge of the will of God; (b) the consciousness and manifestation of our own sin before the Lord.
1 Samuel 14:37. God’s silence when we question Him is also an answer, which 1) calls us to earnest self-examination, in order to discover to us the impure ground in our heart, from which the question proceeds, and 2) causes us to mark the divine delay as to that which we desire in a carnal way.
1 Samuel 14:45. When is the people’s voice God’s voice? 1) When it is an echo of that which God by His word and His deeds of grace has spoken into the heart and conscience of the people. 2) When it is a contradiction to that which clearly opposes the word and work of God.
1 Samuel 14:24–45. Misuse of the name of God in the service of hypocrisy: 1) By idle swearing in over-hasty resolutions. 2) By impenitent invocation of divine help in self-willed undertakings. 3) By zeal in the name of the Lord against other people’s sins, while ignoring and concealing one’s own.
1 Samuel 14. J. DISSELHOFF: The time between the stumbling and the fall. We see, 1) How God’s wondrous faithfulness drives Saul not to shame at his unbelief, but only to carnal zeal; 2) How he wishes to supply the half-felt want of thorough repentance by outward service of God; 3) How therefore the further gracious respite and help of God led not to upright action but to security. [The fall of Saul may be fully and instructively traced by the help of “Historical and Theological,” Nos. 3 and 5.—TR.] Footnotes:
1 הַלָּז, is an abbreviation of הַלָּזֶה the strengthened demonst. “that;” it is seldom found, as here, without preceding substantive. Comp. Dan. 8:16; Ewald, § 103 d.
2[This might be true of the district of Gibeah, but not of the town itself, which occupied the summit of a high rounded hill; nor does it seem necessary to put Migron near Michmash; the statement in 1 Samuel 14:16 rather supposes a greater distance.—TR.]
3[See “Textual and Grammatical” on this verse.—TR.]
4 מָצוּק, “poured out,” from יָצַק, then “firm,” “hard.” [Better from צוּק.—TR.]
5The נְטֵה לָךְ is difficult, the rendering “turn thee,” i. e., “go,” not being allowable. It is, therefore, better to read with Ewald לְבָבֶךָ instead of בִּלְבָבֶךָ, and נָטָה, instead of נְטֵֹה, and render: “do all to which thy heart inclines.” The words: “see, I am with thee according to thy heart,” i. e., as thy heart desires, present no difficulty, so that it is unnecessary, with Then, after Sept., to insert לְבָבִי after כִּלְבָבֶךָ and read: lo, I am with thee, as thy mind (is also) my mind. The Heb. text is more appropriate to the occasion from its curtness and pregnancy.
6At the beginning of 1 Samuel 14:12 we find the fem. form for “garrison” [מצבה] instead of the usual masc. (מצב) On this Böttcher remarks: “The grammatical ground is that in 1 Samuel 14:12 it is said: the people (from several points) of the whole garrison cried out.” The whole is properly expressed by the feminine form. See on Gen. 38:18.
7 מַעֲנָה is the furrow which the plough makes, as in Ps. 129:3. It is in stat. abs. instead of stat. const., because three nouns here stand together. Ew. § 291 a: “Sometimes the second noun of such a series seems to remain in stat. abs., so that we can only tell from the sense of the whole, the relation of the third to the two preceding. Isa. 48:11; Eccl. 12:13.—צֶמֶד properly “something bound,” then “a pair or yoke of oxen,” then “the ground ploughed by a yoke of oxen in a definite time,” = jugum; jugerum.
8[For וּבִנֵי י׳ which gives no sense, read לִבִנֵי י׳.
9[לִהְיוֹת. . .םָבְבוּ גַם—TR.]
10[According to 13:5, Bethaven was northwest from Michmash, and there is therefore no contradiction here.—TR.]
11Read not וַיּוֹאֶל as if from הוֹאִיל, “acted foolishly,” but וַיֹּאֶל Impf. Apoc. for וַיַֹאֲלֶה, from אָלׇה, Ges. Gr. § 76, 2 a.
12 אַף כִּי, properly “thereto comes that,” then “let alone,” “not to mention,” and after an affirmation “all the more,” “how much more,” 2 Sam. 4:11; Gen. §155, 2 a. כִּי עַתָּח often serves to introduce more strongly the apodosis of a conditional sentence: “yea, then.” Ew. § 358, 2 a; Gen. 31:42; 43:10; Num. 22:29; 2 Sam. 2:27. The לֹא indicates that the apodosis is a question.
13For the meaningless וַיַעַשׂ read וַיַעַט, Imperf. Qal. of עִיט with Dag. forte implicit. instead of וַיָּעַט, Ges. § 72, R. g. So after שָׁלָל insert Art. with Qeri.
14 חֹטאים for חֹטְאִים with retracted vowel. Ew. § 188 c.
15 אֶל־הרָּם “to the blood.” The change of Prep. does not alter the meaning; אֵל stands for עַל as in Judg. 6:39 (see Maur. in loc.), 2 Sam. 1:24; 10:7—both sometimes occurring in the same sentence, as 25:25; 26:15 sqq.; 2 Sam. 2:9; 20:23.
16[That is, by the Ephod, to which was attached the breastplate with U. and T.—TR.]
17[Principial (Germ. prinzipiell) is “founded on, or connected with principles,” in contrast with what is accidental, inadvertent, not fundamental.—TR.]
18[So Philippson (schreckteer), taking the rad. meaning of the verb to be “to be unquiet.” Ges. renders: “to pronounce guilty, gain one’s cause, be victorious.”—TR.]
19[On the relation of Eshbaal, Ishbosheth and Ishwi, and the text in 1 Samuel 14:51, see “Text. and Gram.” in loco.—TR.]
20[So 1 Samuel 14:51 must be rendered instead of as in Eng. A. V.—TR.]
Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.