1 Samuel 14:43
Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what you have done. And Jonathan told him, and said…
"Stop the beginnings," said the old Romans; arrest the evil in the bud; put your foot upon the spark and stamp out the conflagration. Behold how great, a forest a little fire kindleth. "I did but taste a little honey on the end of the rod in mine hand, and lo! I must die!"
1. "A little honey." So all sin appears at the moment of conception. Had the devil proffered to Jonathan the whole land of Canaan, "flowing with milk and honey," assured him of its heirship and possession, as he pressed on in eager pursuit of his father's enemies, he had not succeeded; but he offered a little on the end of his staff, which he could eat as he ran, and instantly the young warrior was caught by the bait and snared. So it has ever been. By little and little. The merchant of Panama, says Beecher, builds his warehouse near the docks. He drives into the water the strongest piles which his native woods can furnish. He is anxious to lay a foundation which fire cannot reach, and neither wind nor wave displace. Thereon he erects his store houses and bestows his goods and fruits. Alas! for human foresight. Presently a small madrepore, whose presence a microscope can scarcely detect, fastens upon the pile; gradually it draws to its aid a myriad little perforators from the water, and by the implements at their command they eat it, saw it, bore and honeycomb it. so that in a few years, if a child but, touch it. it will crumble to pieces. Even so, under the most insignificant of forms, in the quietest manner, by the weakest of agencies, little sins, vices, foolish habits and excesses, work into and undermine the strongest and purest characters, renders abortive the noblest of purposes, work wreck and ruin in the grandest of lives, till the man, or family, or church, or nation affected by them, honeycombed at the heart, perishes in corruption
2. "A little honey!" We might consider how often our "little sins" come between us and our Maker, shut out from us all true and clear views of His character, and interrupt the sunshine of His favour and love to us in Christ. An eminent London minister, in one of his books, tells us he was once sailing over a beautiful Scottish lake. He raised his eyeglass to get a better view of Ben Lomond; but a small leaf, hanging across the line of his vision, shut out the entire mountain. And something much less than a leaf could have marred the prospect. He had only to breathe on the glass for a moment, and the dimness produced on its surface would have been sufficient to intercept and becloud for him all the beauty of the world. And little sins, fashionable vices, selfish indulgences in things forbidden, freaks of temper, fits of petty wilfulness, take off the edge of our keenest feelings of attachment to God and His service, blunt our susceptibilities of receiving Divine impressions, chill the ardour of youthful enthusiasm, and shut us out from the influences of the world to come. "A little honey!" Our Lord took three of his disciples to act as a sort of bodyguard, and keep watch, while he prayed in Gethsemane. Eight more held vigil on an outer circle. But the day had been long, and the journey had been fatiguing, and the work had been exciting, and their eyes were heavy with sleep. The "little honey" of refreshing slumber was not to be resisted. Their Lord withstood the temptation and was ready. The traitor found Him prepared. But His followers were surprised in their sentinel duty, and "they all forsook Him and fled." A little sleep!
3. "I did but taste a little honey and, lo! I must die!" Israel very naturally took one view of Jonathan's case, and his father as naturally took another. In the eyes of the army it was but a trifling oversight; in the eyes of the king it was a capital offence. And our "little sins" appear in different lights as they are viewed in the court of heaven and before the tribunal of our fellow men. Had "Adam's transgression" been punished on the day wherein it was committed, and the guilty pair been swept from the earth and hurried to their account, the severity of the penalty might have seemed to them disproportioned to the offence But ages have elapsed since then, and that "little sin" has borne its fruit. What should be its punishment now? Thank God! the question need not be put. If, has already been asked and answered. It brought the Son of God out of heaven We did but taste a little honey, and, lo! He must die. Sin, so sweet to us, was the bitterness of death to Him. But let us remember that, like Jonathan, we are sons of the King. Our interests are identical with those of our Father in heaven. What seems a "little sin" to us is a great source of grief and wrong to Him. "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Let us be true to our God and Saviour, in little things as well as great, striving to be "blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke holding forth the word of life."
(R. Balgarnie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.