Wesley's Notes on the Bible
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,
Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.
And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
13:3 Blew - That is, he sent messengers to tell them all what Jonathan had done, and how the Philistines were enraged at it, and therefore what necessity there was of gathering themselves together for their own defence.
And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal.
13:4 Saul - Perhaps contrary to some treaty.
And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven.
13:5 Thirty thousand chariots, and c. - Most of them, we may suppose, carriages for their baggage, not chariots of war, tho' all their allies were joined with them.
When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits.
13:6 Strait - Notwithstanding their former presumption that if they had a king, they should be free from all such straits. And hereby God intended to teach them the vanity of confidence in men; and that they did not one jot less need the help of God now, than they did when they had no king. And probably they were the more discouraged, because they did not find Samuel with Saul. Sooner or later men will be made to see, that God and his prophets are their best friends.
And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
13:7 All the people - That is, all that were left.
And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
13:8 Seven days - Not seven compleat days; for the last day was not finished.
And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering.
And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.
And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;
13:11 Camest not - That is, when the seventh day was come, and a good part of it past, whence I concluded thou wouldst not come that day.
Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
13:12 Supplication - Thence it appears, that sacrifices were accompanied with solemn prayers. Forced myself - I did it against my own mind and inclination.
And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
13:13 For ever - The phrase, for ever, in scripture often signifies only a long time. So this had been abundantly verified, if the kingdom had been enjoyed by Saul, and by his son, and by his son's son; after whom the kingdom might have come to Judah.
But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
13:14 A man - That is, such a man as will fulfil all the desires of his heart, and not oppose them, as thou dost. Commanded - That is, hath appointed, as the word command is sometimes used: but though God threatened but Saul with the loss of his kingdom for his sin; yet it is not improbable, there was a tacit condition implied, to wit, if he did not repent of this; and of all his sins; for the full, and final, and peremptory sentence of Saul's rejection, is plainly ascribed to another cause, chap.15:11,23,26,28,29, and 'till that second offence, neither the spirit of the Lord departed from him, nor was David anointed in his stead. But was it not hard, to punish so little a sin so severely? It was not little: disobedience to an express command, tho' in a small matter, is a great provocation. And indeed, there is no little sin, because there is no little god to sin against. In general, what to men seems a small offence, to him who knows the heart may appear a heinous crime. We are taught hereby, how necessary it is, that we wait on our God continually. For Saul is sentenced to lose his kingdom for want of two or three hours patience.
And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.
And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.
And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:
And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:
But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.
13:20 Philistines - Not to the land of the Philistines, but to the stations and garrisons which the Philistines retained in several parts of Israel's land, though Samuel's authority had so far over - awed them, that they durst not give the Israelites much disturbance. In these, therefore, the Philistines kept all the smiths; and here they allowed them the exercise of their art for the uses following.
Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.
So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.
13:22 Sword - It seems restrained to the six hundred that were with Saul and Jonathan; for there were no doubt a considerable number of swords and spears among the Israelites, but they generally hid them, as now they did their persons, from the Philistines. And the Philistines had not yet attained to so great a power over them, as wholly to disarm them, but thought it sufficient to prevent the making of new arms; knowing that the old ones would shortly be decayed, and useless. There were likewise other arms more common in those times and places, than swords and spears; to wit, bows and arrows, and slings and stones.
And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash.