1 Samuel 14

1 A young man carried Jonathan's armour. Jonathan was Saul's son. One day, Jonathan said to the young man, ‘We will go across to the Philistine army on the other side.’ But Jonathan did not tell his father. 2 Saul was staying under a big fruit tree at Migron near Gibeah. There were about 600 men with Saul. 3 Ahijah was with Saul. He wore an ephod. Ahijah was the son of Ahitub. Ahitub was Ichabod's brother. Ichabod was the son of Phinehas and the grandson of Eli. Eli was the priest of the Lord in Shiloh. Nobody knew that Jonathan had left.

4 Jonathan had to go along a narrow valley. It was in the mountains at Michmash. There was a high wall of rock on both sides of the road. The name of the wall on one side was ‘Bozez’. The name of the other wall was ‘Seneh’. 5 One rock wall was on the north side of the road, near Michmash. The other was on the south side, near Geba.

6 Jonathan spoke to the young man who carried his armour. ‘Now we will go to the place where those Philistines are. Nobody has circumcised them. Perhaps the Lord will help us. The Lord can help us to win the fight. He can do that whether there are many of us or only a few of us.’

7 The young man said, ‘You do anything that you want to do. I will go with you all the way.’

8 Jonathan said, ‘We will go across and we will let the Philistines see us. 9 They may ask us to wait for them because they will come across to us. If they say that, we will stay here. 10 But they may ask us to go to them. That will mean that the Lord will help us to win the fight. So we will go to them.’

11 Jonathan and his young man stood where the Philistines could see them. The Philistines said, ‘Look at the Hebrews (Israelites). They are coming out of the holes where they were hiding.’ 12 The Philistines shouted to Jonathan and his young man, ‘Come up here to us. We want to teach you something.’

Jonathan said, ‘Follow me. The Lord will help Israel to win the fight.’

13 Jonathan climbed up the rock wall. He was using his hands and his feet to climb up. His young man climbed up behind him. Jonathan attacked and killed some Philistines. The young man followed behind Jonathan and killed more Philistines. 14 Jonathan and his young man killed about 20 men in that small space. This was the first time that they attacked the enemy.

15 All the Philistine soldiers became afraid and confused. This happened to the soldiers in Michmash and to those round the town. And it happened to those other soldiers who had gone out to attack. The ground shook. God had made them all very afraid.

16 Saul was at Gibeah in the land of Benjamin. Some of Saul's soldiers were watching the Philistines. They saw that the Philistines were running away in different directions. 17 Saul said to his army, ‘Count our soldiers. Find out who is not here.’ They counted the soldiers. Jonathan and the young man who carried his armour were not there.

18 Saul said to Ahijah the priest, ‘Bring God's Covenant Box here.’ At that time, it was with the Israelites. 19 Saul was talking to the priest. At the same time, the Philistine army made more noise and they were very confused. Saul said to the priest, ‘Take your hand away.’

20 Then Saul and all his men went to fight the Philistines. They found that the Philistines were completely confused. They were so confused that they were fighting each other. 21 Before this time, some of the Israelites had joined with the Philistines. Those Israelites had stayed with the Philistines. Now they went back to the Israelites' army with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Many Israelites had hidden in the mountains in the land of Ephraim. Now somebody told them that the Philistine soldiers were running away. So these Israelites joined the fight and they ran after the Philistines. 23 They fought all the way to Beth Aven and beyond it. That day the Lord saved Israel's people.

Jonathan eats honey

24 But the men among Israel's people were not happy that day. Saul had told them all that they must promise something to him. He had said, ‘Nobody should to eat any food before this evening. You must not eat any food before I have won the fight with my enemies. If anyone eats, I will punish him.’ So none of Saul's army ate any food. 25 The Israelite army went into a forest. There was honey on the ground. 26 The men saw all the honey in the forest. But none of them ate the honey because they were afraid of their promise to Saul. 27 But Jonathan had not heard what his father had said. He put the end of his stick into the honey. He ate the honey. Then he felt better. 28 One of the soldiers told Jonathan, ‘Your father said a promise to all the soldiers. He will punish any man who eats anything today. That is why all the men are weak.’

29 Jonathan said, ‘My father has made trouble for the people. I feel so much better because I ate some of the honey. 30 The men took food from their enemies today. It would have been much better if they had eaten some of it. If they had done that, they would have killed many more Philistines.’

31 That day, the Israelites won the fight with the Philistines. They fought them all the way from Michmash to Aijalon. After this, the Israelites were very weak. 32 They took sheep, cows and young cows from the Philistines. The Israelites were so hungry that they killed the animals on the ground. Then they ate the animals with the blood still in them.

33 Someone said to Saul, ‘Look at the people. They are sinning against the Lord. They are eating the meat with blood still in it.’

Saul said, ‘You have sinned. Bring a large stone here.’

34 Then Saul said, ‘Go to the people. Tell them that each man must bring his cow or his sheep here. They must kill and eat the animals here. Do not sin against the Lord. Do not eat meat with the blood still in it.’

So, every man took his animal and he killed it there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord. It was the first altar that Saul had built to the Lord.

36 Saul said, ‘We will go and we will attack the Philistines tonight until dawn. We will take everything that they have. And we will kill all of them.’

The men answered, ‘You decide what seems the best thing to do. Then do that.’

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

37 Saul asked God, ‘Should I attack the Philistines? Will you help Israel to win the fight?’ But God did not answer Saul that day.

38 So Saul said to all the leaders of the people, ‘Come here. We must find out who has sinned today. 39 The Lord lives and he has saved Israel. And even if my son Jonathan has sinned, he must die.’ But nobody among the people spoke.

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, ‘You decide what seems the best thing to do. Then do that.’

41 Then Saul prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel. He said, ‘Give the right answer to me.’ God chose Jonathan and Saul. He did not choose the people. 42 Saul said, ‘Who has sinned, Jonathan or me?’ God chose Jonathan.

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

Jonathan told him, ‘I only ate a little honey from the end of my stick. Must I die now?’

44 Saul said, ‘Jonathan, I ask God to punish me very much if you do not die.’

45 But the people said to Saul, ‘Jonathan won a great fight for (on behalf of) Israel. He will not have to die. We promise by the living Lord that he will not lose even one hair on his head. God helped Jonathan today in this fight.’ So, the people saved Jonathan and he did not have to die.

46 Then Saul stopped fighting the Philistines. The Philistines returned to their own country.

Saul fights Israel's enemies

47 When Saul became king of Israel, he fought against all Israel's enemies all round them. He fought people from the countries called Moab, Ammon and Edom. He fought the kings from the country called Zobah. He also fought the Philistines. Anywhere that Saul went, he won his fights against Israel's enemies. 48 He fought the Amalekites bravely and he won. Saul saved the Israelites from all the people who had robbed them.

49 Saul's sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. Merab was Saul's 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. Abner was the son of Ner. Ner was a brother of Saul's father. 51 Saul's father was Kish. Abner's father was Ner and Ner's father was Abiel.

14:511 Chronicles 8:33 says that Saul's sons were Jonathan, Malki-Shua, Abinadab and Esh-Baal (also named Ish-Bosheth). Ishvi was probably another name for Abinadab (see 1 Chronicles 10:2). Esh-Baal was probably born after the time of 1 Samuel 14.

52 Saul fought strongly against the Philistines during all of his life. If Saul found a strong man or a brave man, he caused the man to join his army.