Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Micmash. One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, YAHWEH’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.
On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez, and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Micmash, the other to the south toward Geba.
Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps YAHWEH will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder YAHWEH from saving, whether by many or by few.”
“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said, “go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
Jonathan said, “Come, then; we will cross over toward the men and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that YAHWEH has given them into our hands.’”
So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost, “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; YAHWEH has given them into the hand of Israel.”
Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.
Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by Elohim.
Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah of Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.
Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of Elohim.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.) While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”
Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. So YAHWEH rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.
Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.
The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out, yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened. Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, “Cursed be any man who eats food today!” That is why the men are faint.”
Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
That day, after the Israelites had struck down the Philistines from Micmash to Aijalon, they were exhausted. They pounced on the plunder and, taking sheep, cattle and calves, they butchered them on the ground and ate them, together with the blood. Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against YAHWEH by eating meat that has blood in it.”
“You have broken faith,” he said. “Roll a large stone over here at once.” Then he said, “Go out among the men and tell them, ‘Each of you bring me your cattle and sheep, and slaughter them here and eat them. Do not sin against YAHWEH by eating meat with blood still in it.’”
So everyone brought his ox that night and slaughtered it there. Then Saul built an altar to YAHWEH; it was the first time he had done this.
Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.”
“Do whatever seems best to you,” they replied.
But the priest said, “Let us inquire of YAHWEH here.”
So Saul asked Elohim, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But Elohim did not answer him that day.
Saul therefore said, “Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. As surely as YAHWEH who rescues Israel lives, even if it lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of the men said a word.
Saul then said to all the Israelites, “You stand over there; I and Jonathan my son will stand over here.”
“Do what seems best to you,” the men replied.
Then Saul prayed to YAHWEH, the Elohim of Israel, “Give me the right answer.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.
Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.”
So Jonathan told him, “I merely tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now must I die?”
Saul said, “May Elohim deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.”
But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as YAHWEH lives not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with Elohim’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.
Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land.
After Saul had assumed rule over Israel, he fought against their enemies on every side: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment on them. He fought valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, delivering Israel from the hands of those who had plundered them.
Saul’s sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal. His wife’s name was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of Saul’s army was Abner son of Ner, and Ner was Saul’s uncle. Saul’s father Kish and Abner’s father Ner were sons of Abiel.
All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one YAHWEH sent to anoint you king over His people Israel; so listen now to the message from YAHWEH. This is what YAHWEH says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Then the word of YAHWEH came to Samuel: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to YAHWEH all that night.
Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “YAHWEH bless you! I have carried out YAHWEH’s instructions.”
But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to YAHWEH your Elohim but we totally destroyed the rest.”
“Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what YAHWEH said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? YAHWEH anointed you king over Israel. And He sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey YAHWEH? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of YAHWEH?”
“But I did obey YAHWEH,” Saul said. “I went on the mission YAHWEH assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to Elohim, in order to sacrifice them to YAHWEH your Elohim at Gilgal.”
But Samuel replied:
“Does YAHWEH delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of YAHWEH?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of YAHWEH,
He has rejected you as king.”
Obedience is a good thing. When you are obedient to your parents, for instance, you can learn to do some really neat things, like how to roller skate! Also, when you are obedient to your parents, you are obeying our Heavenly Father Yahweh and He, Himself, will see that you are rewarded more than you can ever imagine!
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated YAHWEH’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.
Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship YAHWEH.”
But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of YAHWEH, and YAHWEH has rejected you as king over Israel!”
As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “YAHWEH has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”
Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship YAHWEH your Elohim.” So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped YAHWEH.
Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.”
Agag came to him confidently, thinking, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”
But Samuel said,
“As your sword has made women childless,
so will your mother be childless among women.”
And Samuel put Agag to death before YAHWEH at Gilgal.
Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And YAHWEH was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.
YAHWEH said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.”
YAHWEH said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to YAHWEH. Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
Samuel did what YAHWEH said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”
Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to YAHWEH. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely YAHWEH’s anointed stands here before YAHWEH.”
But YAHWEH said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. YAHWEH does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but YAHWEH looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “YAHWEH has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has YAHWEH chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “YAHWEH has not chosen these.”
So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him, we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then YAHWEH said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of YAHWEH came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
Now the Spirit of YAHWEH had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from YAHWEH tormented him.
Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from Elohim is tormenting you. Let our master command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from Elohim comes upon you, and you will feel better.”
So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”
One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And YAHWEH is with him.”
Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.
David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”
Whenever the spirit from Elohim came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.