Overnight Overkill   Leave a comment

tired

By Lori Rodeheaver

In 1 Samuel 14, we find that God’s people had just won a battle against their enemy.  Saul’s army was so faint from fighting and lack of food that immediately after they won, they sinned against God by eating meat with the blood still in it.  Now, their leader expects them to carry on fighting, plundering, and pursing the enemy all night.

Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them until the morning light; let us not leave a man of them.” And they said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 And Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. ~1 Samuel 14:36-37

Any fool could see that these men needed rest as much as they had needed food.  Yet this leader was blind to the needs of his own people.  There is but one concern in Saul’s heart – self.

As he seeks to pursue an already defeated enemy with an already defeated army, a conflict arises between this leader and his spiritual authority.  Saul wants to use his ready-to-flat-line subjects to collect his booty, but his priest urges him to wait and pray.

Note, where foolish, unspiritual leaders selfishly disregard the needs of God’s people, spiritual leaders will step up to challenge them.  Our weakness often leads to sin when and if we become severe and desperate enough in our infirmities.  When the health and safety of God’s people is at stake, God’s glory is also at stake.

So, for fear of men and to avoid looking bad, Saul prays to see whether he ought to carry out his plan or not.  But God did not answer.  Saul knows that sin is at the root of this silent treatment.  What he fails to recognize is that it’s his sin, not the sin of his people.

Of course, the lot falls to Jonathan,  his son, and Jonathan was indeed the one guilty of breaking Saul’s oath of fasting…but Jonathan was not even informed about the oath.  He was ignorant of his father’s foolish directive when he ate.  He was not rebellious or disobedient.  If charged with any crime, it might only be hunger.

 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” And Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am; I will die.” ~1 Samuel 14:43

Even still, Jonathan accepts his own guilt.  He does not justify himself.  He pleads neither his case nor his innocence.

Oh!  If Saul would have just been examining his heart!  If Saul had been doing what Jonathan did here all along, God’s people wouldn’t be in this mess.  If he had been examining his own heart for wickedness, he would have saved his kin from guilt.

Instead, Saul heartlessly and disaffectionately charges his very own son with the death penalty.  How willing he is to sacrifice anyone and anything to stay in charge and be in the right – even his very own son!  But, as Matthew Henry said, “Justice is debased when it is administered with wrath and bitterness.”

But Saul’s son was beloved among the people.  He was their hero; their savior; their deliverer.  He was a young man full of courage, honor, and integrity.  There was no way they were going to let him die for a nicety.

This is amazing.  These people were willing to starve.  They were willing to obey when corrected.  They were willing to fight all night if so instructed by their leader.  But there was one thing they were wholly unwilling to do.  There was one thing for which they stood up and said, “NO!”  That thing was selling out their friend – their rescuer who had so valiantly fought for them.

Jonathan was a type of Christ.  When conflict arises, we must never allow man’s religion to put to death our Savior.  Yet, “they did not rescue him by violence, but by reason and resolution.” ~Matthew Henry

Note, any time we see gross injustice among God’s people, we must not resort to violence, hostility, anger, or force in order to correct it.  Instead, we must pursue peace through reason, truth, prayer, and the scriptures.

Then Saul went up from pursuing the Philistines, and the Philistines went to their own place. ~1 Samuel 14:46

Finally, what we find as a result of all this in-house conflict is the enemy getting away.  The enemy escaped.  No heaping spoils of war after this victory.  Just a bunch of exhausted, post-traumatic stress suffering soldiers in desperate need of rest and recovery.

That’s what foolish, unspiritual leaders produce.  Be careful who you follow.

Everyday Encounters with the Creator

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