King Saul was a hotheaded man. He was also a prideful man and when I think about it, I think the two go hand-in-hand. Anger and pride. One problem with anger and pride is that we can say things we shouldn’t have said. James reminds us that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20 NIV). In 1 Samuel 14:24, we see that Saul made a prideful oath to the Lord.

Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.

1 Samuel 14:24 (NIV)

There were many problems with this oath that Saul made the army swear. Fighting takes up a lot of energy, and armies need to eat. This is why sieges are effective, and tactics like destroying supply chains work so well. If an army can’t eat, it can’t fight. Another problem with the oath that Saul made the people swear was that his son, Jonathan, didn’t know anything about it.

The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.

1 Samuel 14:25-27 (NIV)

This is later on the same day after Jonathan and his armor-bearer attacked a Philistine outpost. The entire Philistine army was thrown into a panic sent to them by the Lord, which encouraged all the people to rise up and fight against them. However, because of the oath Saul had made the people swear, they weren’t very effective in battle.

Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”

1 Samuel 14:29-30 (NIV)

Not only was the army not as effective in battle, but when they won, they were so consumed with hunger that they sinned against the Lord.

That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Mikmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted. They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood.

1 Samuel 14:31-32 (NIV)

After Saul admonished the men for their sin, they sacrificed the plunder as they were supposed to and ate it before the Lord. However, because they had been so ineffective in battle, a lot of Philistines got away, so Saul wanted to pursue them. In his haste, Saul wasn’t going to inquire of the Lord before going, so his priest reminded him that they should consult the Lord. When Saul asked the Lord if they should pursue the Philistines, he didn’t get an answer.

Saul deduced that the Lord wasn’t answering them because of sin.

Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today.

1 Samuel 14:38 (NIV)

This is where Saul makes another prideful oath.

As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of them said a word.

1 Samuel 14:39 (NIV)

This oath reminds me of the oath Jephthah made to the Lord in Judges.

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

Judges 11:30-31 (NIV)

As we know, Jephthah’s only daughter was the person who came out of the door to greet him, and Jephthah did to her as he had vowed (cf. Judges 11:39).

So Saul brings the army together, and they cast lots to see who has sinned. The lot falls to Jonathan and Saul.

Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.

1 Samuel 14:42 (NIV)

This was no surprise to the army. They had said nothing to Saul when he made the rash vow to execute anyone, including his son, if they were guilty. Even Jonathan said nothing when his father made that vow. Even Jonathan’s response, “I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!” seems to agree with his father’s vow (1 Samuel 14:43 NIV). Regardless of the lots, the army refuses to allow Jonathan to be executed.

But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.

1 Samuel 14:45 (NIV)

What I find interesting about all of this is I don’t see the sin falling on Jonathan. It was Saul who made the army swear, but Jonathan wasn’t there and knew nothing of the vow. The army ate meat with the blood still in it because of Saul’s vow and poor battle tactics. We know that the army sinned because it was a sin to eat meat with the blood still in it. It appears as if they weren’t selected by lot because that sin wasn’t the impetus behind the Lord’s silence. Perhaps it was Saul?

There are two ways to look at the way the lots were chosen. As I’ve said, the army did sin, but they weren’t chosen. Saul and Jonathan were. Then, Saul and Jonathan were separated. Saul, in his pride, thinks Jonathan sinned, and Jonathan agrees. What if Jonathan was taken, leaving Saul behind as the culprit? Saul was too consumed in his own pride to think that he had committed any sin, but on that day, we see several. From his first prideful oath to not consulting the Lord and not seeing his own sin, Saul seems to be the problem here.

Pride is like that. It tells us we can’t be the one to blame, so we look elsewhere. Saul did the right thing by seeking the Lord and asking him about it, but his pride blinded him from understanding the response. Fortunately for Jonathan, the army had the discernment and kept Saul from executing him.

This is why we need to go before the Lord humbly and earnestly when we pray. I’ll leave you with these verses from Psalm 139.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.