1 Samuel 14:24-46

After the battle

24 TheIsraelite 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 of 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.