Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle. So the LORD saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.
Comment: We read earlier in this book that not everyone of the Israelites liked the idea of Saul being king. A percentage deserted their own people and not only were living among the Philistines but came up to do battle on their side! Others, presumably not wanting to be in Saul’s army, had hidden in caves and in the mountains and heard the tumult of the battle and saw that Israel was winning. Both groups came around and fought with Saul.
And the men of Israel had been hard pressed that day, so Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.” So none of the people had tasted food. Now when all the people came to the forest, behold, there was honey on the ground. And when the people entered the forest, behold, the honey was dropping, but no one put his hand to his mouth, for the people feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath, so he put out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb and put his hand to his mouth, and his eyes became bright.
Comment: Saul seems very inclined to make stupid decisions. His soldiers were exhausted but he, apparently to show his authority, charged them not to take any sustenance but to continue fighting until the very last Philistine was either slaughtered or had fled into their own territory. We all need sustenance for the long fight, but he denied this to his soldiers. And he added a curse. They were used to getting berries and honey and other stuff from their surrounds but they staggered on, faint, desiring a great victory but afraid of the curse. Jonathan, his son, as you may remember had taken a side trip to kill off a group of Philistines and had started the rout of the enemy, and did not hear his father’s curse. So he regained some energy with a few mouthfuls of delicious honey! His weary eyes became bright with the energy packed honey top-up. What will his father do now?
Prayer: Help me so that I don’t open my mouth and prove myself foolish, O Lord.