Then one of the people said, “Your father strictly charged the people with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food this day.’” And the people were faint. Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.”
They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. And the people were very faint. The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood.
Comment: Looking again at the same passage – Saul’s curse, which we read about yesterday and about which his fellow soldiers reminded Jonathan, but after he had eaten, was a mistake. It was a vain glorious showing of his power; he was unwise in limiting his men to get the sustenance which they needed to finish their task; and he did not seek God’s advice. As Jonathan said ‘my father has troubled the land.’
Was Jonathan wrong to eat the honey? In his father’s eyes he was. His fellow soldiers advised him of his mistake. The honey brought strength to his eyes and no doubt to his body. Is ignorance a reason to break the law? I’m on his side. I don’t think he did anything wrong but the law of our land does not accept ignorance of the law as a reason to break it.
Were the people wrong to eat as they did? They waited until the time of the curse had passed, but then they broke the laws God had given Moses about how animals were to be butchered. Did Saul’s injunction lead them to exhaustion and to a ‘eat now or die’ attitude, which brought them to break a law which was well known to them? How do obedience and legalism sort out? To my mind the people were disobedient and in the wrong. But in many issues it is not easy to discern how to handle God’s law. Many of the prophets spoke God’s mind about how irreverent and merely formal obedience to His laws is repulsive to God. God wants spiritual not legalistic worship.
Prayer: May your law be written on my heart and mind so that I know how to please You, my Heavenly Father.