1 Samuel 14:1
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.
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(1) Now it came to pass.—As if in strong contrast to Saul—who at Gilgal openly made light of the supernatural assistance promised by Samuel, showing plainly by his conduct on that memorable occasion that he hardly believed in the part the invisible King had laken in the history of the people—the action of Jonathan at Michmash, which led to the rout of the Philistine army, is related with some detail. Jonathan was the typical warrior of that wild and adventurous age—recklessly brave, chivalrous, and generous, possessing evidently vast strength and unusual skill in all warlike exercises. He was animated with an intense faith in the willingness and power of the Eternal to help Israel. This mighty faith in the ever-presence of the God who chose Israel, was the mainspring of the victorious power of all the great Hebrew heroes—of men like Joshua and Gideon, Barak and Samson. David, the greatest of them all, we shall see, possessed this sublime spirit of faith in a pre-eminent degree. But King Saul utterly lacked it; hence his rejection.

The young prince’s heart burned within him at the degradation which the Philistine occupation brought upon the people. His father was too prudent to engage in battle with his own feeble and disorganised forces, so Jonathan determined, with the help of the Divine Friend of Israel, to strike a blow at these insolent foes. Under any other circumstances—without the consciousness of supernatural help—to attempt such a feat of arms would have been madness; but Jonathan had an inward conviction that an unseen Arm would hold a shield before him. It is noticeable that he never communicated his desperate purpose to his father, Saul.

14:1-15 Saul seems to have been quite at a loss, and unable to help himself. Those can never think themselves safe who see themselves out of God's protection. Now he sent for a priest and the ark. He hopes to make up matters with the Almighty by a partial reformation, as many do whose hearts are unhumbled and unchanged. Many love to have ministers who prophesy smooth things to them. Jonathan felt a Divine impulse and impression, putting him upon this bold adventure. God will direct the steps of those that acknowledge him in all their ways, and seek to him for direction, with full purpose of heart to follow his guidance. Sometimes we find most comfort in that which is least our own doing, and into which we have been led by the unexpected but well-observed turns of Divine providence. There was trembling in the host. It is called a trembling of God, signifying, not only a great trembling they could not resist, nor reason themselves out of, but that it came at once from the hand of God. He that made the heart, knows how to make it tremble.Now ... - Rather "and," since this verse is in immediate dependence upon the preceding. When Jonathan saw the garrison come out again and again, in defiance "of the armies of the living God," at length "upon a day" he determined to attack them. CHAPTER 14

1Sa 14:1-14. Jonathan Miraculously Smites the Philistines' Garrison.

1. the Philistines' garrison—"the standing camp" (1Sa 13:23, Margin) "in the passage of Michmash" (1Sa 13:16), now Wady Es-Suweinit. "It begins in the neighborhood of Betin (Beth-el) and El-Bireh (Beetroth), and as it breaks through the ridge below these places, its sides form precipitous walls. On the right, about a quarter of an acre below, it again breaks off, and passes between high perpendicular precipices" [Robinson].Jonathan and his armour-bearer secretly smite the Philistines’ army; they slay one another, 1 Samuel 14:1-15; which being perceived, 1 Samuel 14:16,17, Saul pursueth the Philistines, the captivated and hidden Israelites join in the pursuit, 1 Samuel 14:18-23. Saul adjureth the people not to eat any thing till evening. Jonathan eateth honey: the Philistines are smitten, 1 Samuel 14:24-31. The people eat flesh with the blood: Saul restraineth them, and buildeth an altar, 1 Samuel 14:32-35. Design to pursue the Philistines by night, he consults God, who answers not: he casts a lot to find out the cause: Jonathan is taken: Saul dooms him to die: the people rescue him, 1 Samuel 14:36-45. Saul’s wars, sons, daughters, wife, 1 Samuel 14:46-52.

This was a rash and foolish attempt, if it be examined by common rules; but not so, if we consider the singular promises made to the Israelites, that one should chase a thousand, &c., and especially the heroical and extraordinary motions which were then frequently put into the minds of gallant men by God’s Spirit, whereby they undertook and accomplished noble and wonderful things; as did Samson, and David, and his worthies.

On the other side; beyond that rocky passage described below, 1 Samuel 14:4,13, which he pointed at with his hand.

He told not his father, lest he should hinder him in so improbable an enterprise. Nor was it necessary he should inform him of it, because he had a commission from his father to fight when he saw occasion, as he had done without his father’s privity, 1 Samuel 13:3.

Now it came to pass upon a day,.... At a certain time, a little after the garrison of the Philistines had made the movement, 1 Samuel 13:23 and it is not to be taken strictly for the day time; for it is probable it was in the night that the following proposal was made, and began to be carried into execution; for Josephus (k) says it was day light when Jonathan and his armourbearer came to the camp of the Philistines; he had formed his scheme perhaps the night before, and he and his man set out in the night time, and by break of day came up to the garrison, as after related:

that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour; as was usual in those times for generals of armies to have such, and so in later times; such were Automedon to Achilles, and Achates to Aeneas, as Grotius observes:

come and let us go over to the Philistine garrison that is on the other side; that is, go over the valley which lay between Michmash and Gibeah, to the Philistines, that lay on the other side the valley beyond it; and so was not in it, but at a pass on the hills, at the bottom of which this valley lay, and could be seen at a distance, and pointed at with the finger, as Jarchi notes:

but he told not his father; lest he should disapprove of his project, and hinder him from pursuing it; and had not his spirit been stirred up to this by the Lord, of which he was fully persuaded, he would have acted not only a rash part, but contrary to military discipline, in engaging in an enterprise without the knowledge and direction of his general; unless we can suppose he had all unlimited commission from his father to attack the enemy, at discretion, at any time, and any where.

(k) Antiqu. l. 6. c. 6. sect. 2.

Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, {a} Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.

(a) By this example God declared to Israel that the victory did not consist in multitude or armour, but only because of his grace.

Ch. 1 Samuel 14:1-15. Jonathan’s deed of daring

1. that bare his armour] A confidential attendant like the squire of the middle ages.

But he told not his father] For fear lest he should forbid so hazardous an attempt. From this point to the end of 1 Samuel 14:5 we have a series of clauses introduced parenthetically to describe the circumstances under which the attack was made. 1 Samuel 14:6 resumes the thread of the narrative by a repetition of Jonathan’s words. The vivid detail marks the account of one familiar with the spot.

Verse 1. - Now it came to pass upon a day. Literally, "And there was a day, and Jonathan," etc.; or, as we should say, And it happened one day that Jonathan. The phrase means that Jonathan's brave feat took place not many days after the garrison had occupied the cliff, probably only two or three, but without definitely stating how many. He told not his father. Not only because Saul would have forbidden so rash an enterprise, but because secrecy was essential to any chance of success: probably too the purpose came upon him as an inspiration from above. 1 Samuel 14:1Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, "We will go over to the post of the Philistines, that is over there." To these words, which introduce the occurrences that followed, there are attached from וּלאביו to 1 Samuel 14:5 a series of sentences introduced to explain the situation, and the thread of the narrative is resumed in 1 Samuel 14:6 by a repetition of Jonathan's words. It is first of all observed that Jonathan did not disclose his intentions to his father, who would hardly have approved of so daring an enterprise. Then follows a description of the place where Saul was stationed with the six hundred men, viz., "at the end of Gibeah (i.e., the extreme northern end), under the pomegranate-tree (Rimmon) which is by Migron." Rimmon is not the rock Rimmon (Judges 20:45), which was on the north-east of Michmash, but is an appellative noun, signifying a pomegranate-tree. Migron is a locality with which we are not acquainted, upon the north side of Gibeah, and a different place from the Migron which was on the north or north-west of Michmash (Isaiah 10:28). Gibeah (Tuleil el Phul) was an hour and a quarter from Geba, and from the pass which led across to Michmash. Consequently, when Saul was encamped with his six hundred men on the north of Gibeah, he may have been hardly an hour's journey from Geba.
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