1 Samuel 14

1 A young man carried the armour of Saul's son Jonathan. One day, Jonathan said to the young man, ‘Come with me. We will go over to the place where the Philistine soldiers have their camp.’ But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.

2 Saul was staying near Gibeah. He sat under a big fruit tree at Migron. There were about 600 soldiers with him. 3 The priest Ahijah was with Saul. Ahijah wore the priest's ephod. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod's brother, Ahitub. Ahitub was the son of Phinehas and the grandson of Eli. Eli was the priest who had served the Lord in Shiloh.

Nobody knew that Jonathan had left. 4 To reach the Philistines, he had to go along a narrow valley. There were high rocks on both sides of the road. The name of one rock was ‘Bozez’. The name of the other rock was ‘Seneh’. 5 The rock on the north side of the road was near Michmash. The rock on the south side was near Geba.

6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armour, ‘Now we will go to the camp of those foreign people. Perhaps the Lord will help us to win the fight. He can win a battle whether there are many soldiers or only a few.’

7 The young man said, ‘You must do whatever you think is right. I will serve you faithfully all the way.’

8 Jonathan said, ‘Listen! We will go across to the Philistines now. We will let them see us. 9 They may tell us to stop and wait for them to come to us. If they say that, we will stay here. 10 But they may ask us to go up and fight against them. Then we will do that. We will know that the Lord has put them under our power. It will be his sign to us.’

11 Jonathan and the young man stood where the Philistine soldiers could see them. The Philistines said, ‘Look! The Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have been hiding.’ 12 They shouted to Jonathan and the young man, ‘Come up here to fight against us! We will teach you how to fight!’

Jonathan said to the young man, ‘Follow me as I climb up to them. The Lord has put those men under Israel's power!’

13 Jonathan climbed up the rock wall on his hands and his feet. The young man climbed up behind him. Jonathan attacked and killed some of the Philistines. The young man followed behind Jonathan and killed more of them. 14 In the first fight, Jonathan and his young man killed about 20 Philistines in a small area.

15 All the other soldiers in the Philistine army then became very afraid. This included the soldiers in the camp, those in the fields, those who were guards, and the groups who were attacking other towns. Even the ground shook because God had made them all very afraid.

16 Some of Saul's soldiers who were with him in Gibeah were watching the Philistines. They saw that their soldiers were running away in different directions. 17 Saul said to his men, ‘Count our soldiers. Find out who is not here.’ When they did that, Jonathan and the young man who carried his armour were not there.

18 Saul said to Ahijah the priest, ‘Bring the ephod here.’ At that time, Ahijah was wearing the ephod. 19 While Saul was saying this, the Philistine soldiers were making more and more noise. They were all very confused. So Saul said to the priest, ‘Take your hand out of the ephod. It is time to go!’

14:19They used special stones in the ephod to find out what God wanted them to do.

20 Then Saul and all the soldiers who were with him marched out to battle. They found that the Philistines were completely confused. They were fighting each other with their swords. 21 Before this time, some of the Hebrew men had gone to join with the Philistine army. Now they went back to join the Israelite army with Saul and Jonathan. 22 The Israelite soldiers who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim also heard the news. When they knew that the Philistine soldiers were running away, they chased after them as well. 23 In that way, the Lord saved Israel's people on that day. The battle moved all the way to Beth Aven and beyond it.

After the battle

24 The Israelite soldiers became very weak and hungry that day. Saul had told his army to agree to this promise: ‘Nobody may eat any food before this evening. By then I will have won against my enemies. If anyone eats anything before then, may God curse him!’ So no soldier in Saul's army ate any food.

25 Saul's army went into a forest. There was honey on the ground. 26 The men saw all the honey but none of them ate any of it. They were afraid that God would curse them. 27 But Jonathan had not heard about the soldiers' promise to his father. He pushed the end of his stick into the honey. He took some honey on his fingers and he ate it. Then he felt stronger. 28 One of the soldiers told Jonathan, ‘Your father made us promise not to eat any food today. We all agreed that God should curse anyone who eats anything. That is why we are all so weak.’

29 Jonathan said, ‘My father has caused a lot of trouble for all the people. Look what happened when I ate only a little bit of honey. I became strong again! 30 When our army won against our enemies today, we could have eaten the food that they left. Then our soldiers would have been strong enough to kill many more Philistines.’

31 That day, the Israelite army killed many Philistine soldiers. They chased the Philistines all the way from Michmash to Aijalon. After this, the Israelites became tired and weak. 32 So they quickly took sheep, cows and calves from the Philistines as food to eat. The soldiers were so hungry that they killed the animals on the ground. Then they ate the meat with the blood still in it.

33 Someone told Saul, ‘Look at what the army is doing. They are eating meat that still has blood in it. That is a sin against the Lord.’

Saul said to his soldiers, ‘You have turned against the Lord! Find a large stone and roll it here to me.’

34 Then Saul said, ‘Go around to tell all the soldiers, “Bring the cows and the sheep here. Kill them properly and eat them here. Do not eat meat which still has blood in it. That is a sin against the Lord.” ’ So that night every soldier brought an animal. They killed their animals on the stone.

35 Then Saul built an altar to worship the Lord. It was the first time that he had built an altar for the Lord.

36 Then Saul said, ‘We will go tonight and we will attack the Philistines again. We will chase them all night until dawn. We will kill all of them.’

The men answered, ‘Do whatever you think is right.’

But the priest said, ‘We should ask God first.’

37 Saul asked God, ‘Should we attack the Philistines? Will you give us power over them?’ But God did not answer Saul that day.

38 So Saul said to all the leaders of the army, ‘Come here. Someone has done a bad thing today. We must find out who has done it. 39 The Lord is the one who rescues Israel. As surely as the Lord lives, I promise that I will punish the man who has done this bad thing. Whoever it is must die, even if it is my own son Jonathan.’ But nobody in the army said anything.

40 Saul said to all the Israelites, ‘You stand on this side. My son Jonathan and I will stand on the other side.’

The people answered, ‘Do what you think is right.’

41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, Israel's God. He said, ‘Please show us who has done this sin. Let the special stones, Urim and Thummim, show who has done it.’ The stones chose Jonathan and Saul. They did not choose the soldiers of the army.

14:41The Urim and Thummim were special stones that the priest used. God used them to show the people what was right.

42 Then Saul said, ‘Let the stones show whether it was Jonathan or me.’ The stones chose Jonathan.

43 Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Tell me what you have done.’

Jonathan told him, ‘I pushed the end of my stick into some honey. I ate a little bit. You have said that I must die.’

44 Saul said, ‘Jonathan, you must surely die! I ask God to kill me if I do not punish you with death.’

45 But the soldiers said to Saul, ‘No! Jonathan must not die! He has rescued Israel in battle. As surely as the Lord lives, we promise that he will not lose even one hair on his head. It is God who has helped Jonathan to win the fight today.’

In that way, the army saved Jonathan from death.

46 After that, Saul stopped fighting against the Philistines. The Philistines returned to their homes.

Saul leads Israel as their king

47 After Saul became king of Israel, he fought against all their enemies. He fought against the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Edomites. He fought against the kings who ruled in Zobah. He also fought against the Philistines. Saul won against all Israel's enemies, wherever they were. 48 He fought very bravely and he won against the Amalekites. Saul kept Israel safe from all the people who attacked them.

49 Saul's sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. Saul had two daughters. Merab was his older daughter. Michal was his younger daughter. 50 The name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam. She was the daughter of Ahimaaz. Abner was the leader of Saul's army. He was the son of Saul's uncle, Ner. 51 Abiel was the father of both Saul's father, Kish, and Abner's father, Ner.

14:49Ishvi was probably another name for Abinadab. See 1 Chronicles 8:33; 10:2. Esh-Baal was probably born after the time of 1 Samuel 14.

52 During all of Saul's life there were wars between the Philistines and the Israelites. If Saul found a strong soldier or a brave man, he caused the man to join his army.