Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 14

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary


  1. INTRO:
    1. Story: A South African man surprised 9 men robbing his home. 7 of the robbers ran away, but the homeowner managed to shove 2 into his backyard pool. After realizing that one of the robbers couldn’t swim, the homeowner jumped in to save him.The Cape Times reports that once out of the pool, the wet thief called to his friends to come back. Then he pulled a knife and threatened the man who had just rescued him. The homeowner said, “We were still standing near the pool, & when I saw the knife I just threw him back in. But he was gasping for air and was drowning. So I rescued him again!” Daily Bread 6/30/10
      1. Saul seems to be just like 1 of these robbers! - God, pushing him in & saving him, time after time!
    2. Would you be willing to kill your son because he ate some honey? Is it right to break a foolish Vow? Does God ever give us victory(s)...despite us?
    3. Ben Franklin said, “A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” (1744 B. Franklin Poor Richard's Almanack (Mar.))
      1. It actually started with, “Tart words make no friends: A spoonful of honey...”
        1. I’ll ramp it up, “Tart lives make no friends...especially w/God!”
      2. In our story this morning Jonathan will be our honey & his father King Saul, the vinegar!
    1. ​​​​​​​VINEGAR! (King Saul)
    2. Vinegar = from 2 latin words which mean sour + wine.
    3. Prov.25:19,20 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint. Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, And like vinegar on soda(it’s useless & causes a violent reaction), is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
      1. Vinegar on soda = the acetic acid (what makes vinegar sour) reacts with sodium bicarbonate (compound in baking soda) to form carbonic acid.
        1. Carbonic acid is unstable, and it immediately falls apart into carbon dioxide & water (it's a decomposition reaction).
      2. Saul, our Vinegar, “unstable & falling apart”.
    4. Ostentatious Oath (24a) - (Ostentatious = designed to impress or attract notice)
      1. Religion always seems like it’s trying to impress(either God or man, or both!)
        1. This command was only more evidence of Saul’s confused & superstitious faith.
      2. Really this was Impatience at it’s finest. Which always seems to lead us to hasty & wrong decisions.
        1. This is the reaction produced by our fleshly impulses!
      3. It also was is stated.
        1. Saul’s rational was that he wanted everyone to devote themselves unreservedly to the destruction of the enemy.
      4. No longer being led by the Spirit, he uses his authority!
        1. What’s your management style? You have the power to bless or the ability to curse!
        2. Pronouncing a curse on his men was designed to put them in fear of himself not God.
      5. It’s a sad truth that terror & selfishness has been at the foundation of a great deal of that which passes as religion!
    5. Foolish Fast (24b,25,28b,31b) - Jesus speaks to the right & wrong time to fast.
      1. Mat.9:14,15 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
        1. (i.e.) There is a time to feast & a time to fast and it’s not wise to mix them up.
          1. Now, if the Lord commanded a fast, then he would give the strength needed, but God gave no such commission. [confidence vs. presumption]
        2. Soldiers in antiquity had to provide their own food which came from the spoils of war.
        3. Where Saul weakened the army, Jonathan strengthened the army & challenged it to new victories.
      2. (33) Saul, quick to acknowledge the people’s sin. - This might have been a good time to repent of his own sin, instead of speaking harshly to his soldiers.
        1. And really it was Saul’s unnatural regulation that led them into this sin to begin w/!
        2. A truly spiritual vow brings out the best in people, but Saul’s carnal vow brought out the worst!
    6. Artificial Altar (35) - 1st & only altar he ever built.
      1. Maybe if I become more religious? Yah that’s it! (No, how about more obedient?)
      2. Hey maybe I can make this gastronomical feeding frenzy into a worship service!
    7. Another Oath (39) - Now he ramps up his oath, instead of saying it was foolish.
      1. To give the impression that no favoritism would be shown.
      2. So he despotically doomed some unhappy victim to death!
    8. Master your Master? (41) - Telling God what to do?
      1. How could Saul presume that the Almighty would now condescend to reveal His will by lot? But it seems like God wants to push this to expose his foolishness.
        1. So God goes along with Saul’s plan! (Doesn’t that phrase just sound scary?)
        2. Here’s a good prayer: Lord, please never go along with MY plan!
    9. Dead Right (44) - How far will you take your pride?
      1. Would you be willing to kill your son because he ate some honey?
    10. ​​​​​​​Vow = a voluntary promises which, when once made, were to be kept if the thing vowed was right! (And obviously it wasn’t!)
    12. Especially vs. 43 - Jonathan is literally honey in a bear shaped container.
      1. Jonathan, brave, courageous, showing true man hood, yet courteous...but did not allow himself to be intimidated by his father.
      2. He didn’t excuse himself, nor remind the king that such offenses could be atoned for, he simply said, “So now I must die!
        1. Proving the ol’ proverb correct, Honey is sweet...but the bee stings!”
      3. His dad cuts loose with his 3rd oath(vs.33).
        1. No true piety nor natural affection, simply formalism & pride.
    13. I think Jonathan held to what the great philosopher Winnie the Pooh once said, “The only reason for being a bee that I know of is to make honey.... And the only reason for making honey, is so as I can eat it.”
      1. His countenance was brightened –
        1. Akin to todays Power Bar; Fuel Gel’s; or Monster Energy Drinks.
    14. Pope John XXIII, Men are like wine: some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.
      1. Jonathan will continue to improve w/age...while dad keeps getting more sour!
    15. Your choice each day...Honey or Vinegar? (sweet or sour)
    16. Democritus (contemporary of Hippocrates, who lived to the ripe age of 109) said, “The secret of my health is applying honey inside and oil outside.”

Verses 1-23

  1. INTRO:
    1. Prayer: Lord we don’t want to be average, mediocre, normal, compliant, predictable, safe Christians. Teach us to seize our divine moment!
    2. It was Horace the leading Roman lyric poet who gave us the great Latin Phrase, “Carpe Diemseize the day/the present! [or Carpe temporis puntcum - seize the moment!] 1. Or, the Rabbinic phrase, "And if not now, when?" (Pirkei Avoth 1:14)
    1. ​​​​​​​JONATHAN ATTACKS! (1-15)
    2. Jonathan, not Saul, was the true leader in Israel. The contrast between the 2 is striking: (Warren Wiersbe: With The Word; pg.169)
      1. Saul was sitting while Jonathan was attacking.
      2. Saul trusted his growing army while Jonathan God & did not depend on #’s.
      3. Saul watched things happen, but Jonathan made things happen.
    3. (6) How was it that Jonathan was so courageous? Key in vs.6 “The Lord will work for us.”
      1. See similar words by King Asa in 2 Chron.14:11.
    4. Jonathan’s tactics defied military logic.
      1. I’m not a military expert. I didn’t go to West Point. Wasn’t even a Boy Scout. But I think I know enough to realize this is a terrible military strategy.
        1. Let em see us??? You mean, we’ll sneak up in the shadows, maintain radio silence, & attack w/a stealth strike?
        2. Everyone knows when you’re outmanned, outnumbered, outequipped, you don’t just come out! Everyone knows altitude has the upper hand.
        3. Yet, Jonathan was moving out to seize a divine moment!
          1. He didn’t create it, but it also would not come w/o his initiative.
          2. He was stepping into a moment where God would have to come through if it were going to achieve its ultimate end.
          3. He wasn’t being ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​presumptuous as he was only creating an opportunity for God to bring victory He had already promised.
          4. Joshua 23:10 One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you.
      2. He found an established military outpost that had a superior strategic position.
        1. i.e. A camp on top of a steep hill.
      3. He then revealed his position to the enemy.
      4. Then, when invited to fight, he expends so much energy exposing himself to attack & exhaustion.
        1. Amazingly God not only protected Jonathan but gave him a great victory as well.
        2. Truly faith won the victory that day! (Shepherd's Notes: 1st Samuel; pg. 25)
    5. When we play it safe, we squeeze God out of the formula. (Erwin McManus: Seizing Your Divine Moment; pg.80)
      1. If we go where we know & do what we’re certain will succeed, we remove our need for God.
      2. Whenever we take on a God-sized challenge, self-sufficiency is no longer an option.
    6. You have no control over when you die or (most often) how you die, but you do have control over how you live!
      1. Jonathan wasn’t choosing to die, he was choosing how he would live.
    7. It may be that the Lord will work for us –
      1. “Let’s go & pick a fight. Maybe God will help!” :)
      2. Jonathan understood that not everything was guaranteed.
        1. What he knew for certain was that God was powerful enough to get the job done.
        2. He knew God could use a lot of people, or a few. Odds were irrelevant to God.
      3. Jonathan had an unwavering confidence in God’s capacity.
      4. Jonathan had absolute trust in God’s character.
      5. Jonathan’s focus was not, What is God’s will for my life? But How can I give my life to fulfill God’s will?
      6. Jonathan had no certainty concerning his personal well-being.
        1. Jonathan’s only certainty was that he was moving in line w/God’s purpose.
        2. Erwin McManus calls this the Jonathan Factor...“When we have absolute confidence in God in the midst of uncertainty & are willing to move w/God even w/o a guarantee of personal success.”
      7. Some boast, “I have no real evil to speak about”, but they also have no great good to be proud of either! (Is that you?)
    8. Imagine you’re his armor-bearer for a minute.
      1. God might help us? Hey, wake me up when you know!!!
      2. I think this is what most of us have said. - We’ve gone back to sleep in the shade of the pomegranate tree, willing to set out once everything is certain!
      3. Did he think, maybe he has a death wish? Or maybe he has more information he’s left undisclosed?
        1. ​​​​​​​No way...he said, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”
      4. As Christians why can’t we celebrate our friends efforts/attempts, & not immediately get out our red felt tip pen & mark an “F” at the top of their page if we consider it a failure?
        1. If you buy into what I’m saying, the only way we’re going to encourage each other is by hearing a “hey, way to try! way to go! way to grow!” rather than, “Looser!”
        2. It’s what I’ve stated about Pastor Bill Hybels the founder of the Seeker Friendly Movement. As he came out a few years ago & said they re-evaluated, & didn’t see the fruit they anticipated. Your response? I told you so! Or, thanks for trying!
    9. Oh by the way, there is no principle that says everyone who does God’s will lives - at least not on this earth!
      1. If the cross teaches us anything, it teaches us that sometimes God comes through after we’ve been killed! (McManus)
    10. When you move with God, He always shows up.
      1. It’s just difficult to predict what He will do or how He will do it.
      2. Paul didn’t always know where he was going(Acts 16) but he knew why!
      3. If you wait for guarantees, the only thing that will be guaranteed is that you will miss endless divine opportunities...THAT you can be guaranteed!
    11. Divine moments require you to go through the pass! [venture beyond the point of no return]
      1. It’s like snow skiing for the first time, where everything in your mind & body says lean back, but you have to commit, bend your knees & lean forward.
      2. In surfing it’s that moment you commit & there’s no turning back.
    12. Divine moments require us to move from the invisible to the visible, so that the invisible can become visible!
      1. So many of us live our lives making sure we’re not seen.
      2. We chose to remain anonymous. We choose to remain uninvolved.
      3. Our love for personal privacy disguises both our indifference & our isolation.
        1. Here’s whats sad, you can live your life & never be seen!
        2. No, not desiring the limelight. It’s stepping up & making your life count.
        3. It’s about volunteering when God is asking, “Who will go on My behalf?
        4. It’s not taking a step back when volunteers are asked to step forward! (3 stooges)
    13. Divine moments require us to go through the pass; Divine moments require us to let them see you;
      Divine moments require us to choose the way of the cross; Divine moments require us to trust;
      Divine moments require us to look for what God is doing & get in on it;
      Divine moments require us to not be comfortable on the sidelines but get out on the field;
      Divine moments require us to not be an observer of life but a liver of life.
    14. (12) Hear the exhilaration in his voice?
      1. Advance unless the Lord tells you to wait! - Why do we have this backward?
        1. Aren’t there certain things that we don’t need permission to do?
        2. The one’s we’ve already been commissioned to do?
        3. We act as if the primary word from God is STOP when it actually was GO!
        4. It’s moving forward in alignment with the purpose of God.
        5. Isn’t Jesus first words in His great commission to us Go? [Go therefore & make disciples...]
          1. How would your life be different, working from a giant YES rather than a giant NO?
    15. (13) Hands & feet - what tenacity, or literally doggedness(all 4’s). Bold, daring, brave, fearless, audacious! [showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks]
    16. (15) Earthquake - Gods way of giving His thumbs up on someone.
      1. Also, God’s way of surprising us with His magnificence! :)
    17. SAUL WATCHES! (16-23)
    18. (19) Withdraw your hand - Never mind, I’m not waiting on God.
    19. (23) So the Lord saved Israel that day! (the Lord vs.6,10,12,23,45)
      1. Today are you ready to seize your divine moment?
      2. Ready to live the Jonathan life...full of Intentionality & purpose?
      3. A 24 hour period is just packed full of divine moments.
      4. In the game of Chess, white always makes the first move(offense).
        1. It’s your move!
    20. ​​​​​​​Prayer: God we don’t seek to read your mind...but simply to know your heart!
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 14". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.