1That day, Saul’s son Jonathan was talking with the young man who carried his weapons. Jonathan said, “Let’s go to the Philistine camp on the other side ˻of the valley˼.” But Jonathan did not tell his father. 2Saul was sitting under a pomegranate tree in Migron at the edge of the hill. This was near the threshing floor at that place. Saul had about 600 men with him. 3One the men was named Ahijah. Ahijah was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub. Ichabod was the son of Phinehas. Phinehas was the son of Eli. Eli had been the Lord’s priest at Shiloh. Now Ahijah was the priest—Ahijah now wore the ephod. Those men did not know that Jonathan had left. 4Jonathan was planning to go through a pass to get to the Philistine camp. There was a large rock on each side of the pass. The large rock on one side was named Bozez. The large rock on the other side was named Seneh. 5One large rock stood looking north toward Micmash. The other large rock stood looking south toward Geba. 6Jonathan said to his young helper who carried his weapons, “Come on, let’s go to the camp of those foreigners. Maybe the Lord will use us to defeat these people! Nothing can stop the Lord—it doesn’t matter if we have many soldiers or just a few soldiers.” 7The young man who carried Jonathan’s weapons said to him, “Do what you think is best. I am with you all the way.” 8Jonathan said, “Let’s go! We’ll cross ˻the valley˼ and go to those Philistine guards. We’ll let them see us. 9If they say to us, 'Stay there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are. We won’t go up to them. 10But if the Philistine men say, 'Come up here,’ we will climb up to them. Why? Because that will be a sign from God. That will mean that the Lord will allow us to defeat them.” 11So Jonathan and his helper let the Philistines see them. The Philistine guards said, “Look! The Hebrews are coming out of the holes they were hiding in!” 12The Philistines in the fort shouted to Jonathan and his helper, “Come up here. We’ll teach you a lesson!” Jonathan said to his helper, “Follow me up the hill. The Lord is letting Israel defeat the Philistines!” 13- 14So Jonathan climbed up the hill with his hands and feet. And his helper was right behind him. Jonathan and his helper attacked those Philistines. In the first attack, they killed 20 Philistines in an area about one-half acre in size. Jonathan fought the men who attacked from the front. And Jonathan’s helper came behind him and killed the men who were only wounded. 15All of the Philistine soldiers became scared—the soldiers in the field, the soldiers in the camp, and the soldiers at the fort. Even the bravest soldiers were scared. The ground began to shake and that really scared the Philistine soldiers! 16Saul’s guards at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin saw the Philistine soldiers running away in different ways. 17Saul said to the army with him, “Count the men. I want to know who left camp.” They counted the men. Jonathan and his helper were gone. 18Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring God’s Holy Box!” (At that time God’s Holy Box was there with the Israelites.) 19Saul was talking to Ahijah the priest. ˻Saul was waiting for advice from God.˼ But the noise and confusion in the Philistine camp was growing and growing. ˻Saul was becoming impatient.˼ Finally, Saul said to Ahijah the priest, “That’s enough! Put your hand down ˻and stop praying˼!” 20Saul gathered his army together and went to the battle. The Philistine soldiers were really confused! They were even fighting each other with their swords! 21There were Hebrews who served the Philistines in the past and who stayed in the Philistine camp. But now these Hebrews joined the Israelites with Saul and Jonathan. 22All the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard the Philistine soldiers were running away. So these Israelites also joined in the battle and began chasing the Philistines. 23So the Lord saved the Israelites that day. The battle moved on past Beth Aven. The whole army was with Saul—he now had about 10,000 men. The battle spread to every city in the hill country of Ephraim. 24But Saul made a big mistake that day. The Israelites were tired and hungry. This was because Saul forced the people to make this promise: Saul said, “If any man eats food before evening comes and before I finish defeating my enemies, then that man will be punished!” So none of the Israelite soldiers ate any food. 25- 26Because of the fighting, the people went into some woods. Then they saw a honeycomb on the ground. The Israelites went up to the honeycomb, but they didn’t eat any of it. They were afraid to break the promise. 27But Jonathan didn’t know about that promise. Jonathan didn’t hear his father force the people to make that promise. Jonathan had a stick in his hand. He dipped the end of the stick into the honeycomb and pulled out some honey. He ate the honey and began to feel much better. 28One of the soldiers told Jonathan, “Your father forced the soldiers to make a special promise. Your father said that any man who eats today will be punished! ˻So the men have not eaten anything.˼ That is why the men are weak.” 29Jonathan said, “My father has brought a lot of trouble to the land! See how much better I feel after just tasting a little of this honey! 30It would have been much better for the men to eat the food that they took from their enemies today. We could have killed many more Philistines!” 31That day the Israelites defeated the Philistines. They fought them all the way from Micmash to Aijalon. So the people were very tired and hungry. 32They had taken sheep, cows, and calves from the Philistines. Now the people of Israel were so hungry they killed the animals on the ground and ate them. And the blood was still in the animals! 33A person said to Saul, “Look! The men are sinning against the Lord. They’re eating meat that still has blood in it!” Saul said, “You have sinned! Roll a large stone over here. Now!” 34Then Saul said, “Go to the men and tell them each person must bring his bull and sheep to me. Then the men must kill their bulls and sheep here. Don’t sin against the Lord! Don’t eat meat that still has blood in it.” That night every person brought his animals and killed them there. 35Then Saul built an altar for the Lord. Saul himself began building that altar for the Lord! 36Saul said, “Let’s go after the Philistines tonight. We will take everything from them! We will kill them all!” The army answered, “Do whatever you think is best.” But the priest said, “Let’s ask God.” 37So Saul asked God, “Should I go chase the Philistines? Will you let us defeat the Philistines?” But God did not answer Saul that day. 38So Saul said, “Bring all the leaders to me! Let’s find who did the sin today. 39I swear ˻(promise)˼ by the Lord who saves Israel, even if my own son Jonathan did the sin, he must die.” None of the people said a word. 40Then Saul said to all the Israelites, “You stand on this side. I and my son Jonathan will stand on the other side.” The soldiers answered, “As you wish, sir!” 41Then Saul prayed, “Lord, God of Israel, why haven’t you answered your servant today? If I or my son Jonathan have sinned, Lord God of Israel, give Urim. If your people Israel have sinned, give Thummim. Saul and Jonathan were chosen, and the people went free. 42Saul said, “Throw them again to show who is guilty—me or my son Jonathan.” Jonathan was chosen. 43Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” Jonathan told Saul, “I only tasted a little honey from the end of my stick. Should I die for doing that?” 44Saul said, “I made a promise and asked God to punish me if I didn’t keep my promise! Jonathan must die!” 45But the soldiers said to Saul, “Jonathan led Israel to a great victory today. Must Jonathan die? Never! We swear ˻(promise)˼ by the living God that ˻no one will hurt Jonathan˼—not one hair of Jonathan’s head will fall to the ground! God helped Jonathan fight against the Philistines today!” So the people saved Jonathan. He was not put to death. 46Saul did not chase the Philistines. The Philistines went back to their place. 47Saul took full control of Israel. Saul fought all the enemies that lived around Israel. Saul fought Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the king of Zobah, and the Philistines. Saul defeated Israel’s enemies wherever he went. 48Saul was very brave. Saul saved Israel from all the enemies who tried to take things from the people of Israel. Saul defeated even the Amalekites! 49Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki Shua. Saul’s older daughter was named Merab. Saul’s younger daughter was named Michal. 50Saul’s wife was named Ahinoam. Ahinoam was the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of Saul’s army was named Abner son of Ner. Ner was Saul’s uncle. 51Saul’s father Kish and Abner’s father Ner were sons of Abiel. 52Saul was brave all his life. He fought hard against the Philistines. Any time Saul saw a man who was strong or brave, he took that man and put him into the group of soldiers that stayed near the king and protected him.
1 Samuel 14