The Son of Saul with the Heart of David (I Samuel 14)


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 (I Samuel 14:1)

Jonathan had a very Davidic heart. Like Noah’s sons, Shem and Japheth, who refused to gaze on their father’s nakedness Jonathan did not focus on his father’s very public failures. Instead, he was focusing on the fact that the assault he had mounted against the Philistines, (in chapter 13), had “rattled their cage” and put his father and Israel in the place of trial. Since Jonathan knew well the ways of the Lord, he presumed rightly that it was not lost on the Searcher of All Hearts that what he had done, he had done in good faith. His knowledge of the Lord further taught him that his father’s blunder had not changed God’s great love for Israel. As an act of huge faith in the character of the Lord he headed for the Philistines, presuming God would show him what to do on the way there. Keep in mind, he was as aware as his father was of Samuel’s rebukes. Nonetheless, he was totally confident of the Lord’s faithful love, a concept his father seemed not to grasp.


“Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men…” (I Samuel 14:2).

By way of a comparative reference, in the ninth verse of the first chapter of this book it says:


…”Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost …” (I Samuel 1:9)

In First Samuel the Holy Spirit subtly paints a pattern of Saulish hearts being spiritually passive, stationary, even frozen. At the same time the Davidic hearts are moving, flexing, interfacing and co-laboring with God.(“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free!” Psalm 119:32) Jonathan was aggressively going out on what seemed to be a suicide mission, while his father seemed anchored to a tree, even as Hannah stood while Eli was sitting by a doorpost. Jonathan was NOT going out because he had faith in a word he had received from the Lord, for he had received none. Instead, he went out in faith in the character of God Himself.

Now, back to I Samuel 14:


“With him [Saul] 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, the Lord ‘s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.” (I Samuel 14: 3)

First, notice that Saul and those descended from Eli, (who had a Saul heart), were huddled together.

Second, remember that Ahijah had the ephod. The ephod, containing the Urim and the Thummim, was the official instrument by which God communicated with the High Priest. The ephod was made into his special garment.

Third, note that such a small group (two) had left Saul’s camp that even Saul, who was a compulsive head counter, had not missed them.


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.” (I Samuel 14: 4-5)

There were two cliffs dramatically facing each other across a gap, (a pass).


“Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.” (I Samuel 14:6)

Again, notice, Jonathan had no specific word from the Lord.


“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” (I Samuel 14:6)

This son of Saul didn’t have a shred of a Saul heart! He had no faith in numbers (outward appearance) and COMPLETE faith in the Invisible God.


“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul” (I Samuel 14:7).

This kid had seen something in Jonathan that made him say, “I believe in your heart-vision. I’d rather die with you as live without you!” This certifies that Jonathan was a great leader, for only great leaders can inspire such bravery and loyalty.


“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 the Lord has given them into our hands.” (I Samuel 14:8-10)

Remember that back in camp Saul had immediate access to the High Priest and his ephod, Israel’s official hotline to heaven. Why then did he not ask God if he should attack? Because he didn’t want to know what God wanted him to do!

Jonathan had more trust in God and what He would speak to him THROUGH THE MOUTHS OF THE PHILISTINES THAN HIS FATHER HAD IN WHAT GOD COULD HAVE SPOKEN THROUGH THE HIGH PRIEST OF ISRAEL! Jonathan’s heart would hear God better than his father Saul could hear, though he had a hundred High Priests and ephods with him. Similarly, in our day, a pure hearted person will ultimately find the will of God more surely than a prophetically gifted person will.

In a sense, Jonathan was “pouring water on the altar” like Elijah did on Mount Carmel as he prepared to call down God’s fire. Jonathan was, as an act of faith, making it hard on his flesh and not easy. It would have made more military sense for Jonathan to have said, “If those guys say ‘you Israelites stay up there on that cliff—we’re coming up after you,’ hey, that will mean God is saying we can take them!” This would seem right because outward appearance would suggest that obviously they might have had some chance of success against these twenty men if they had the strategic advantage of the high ground. But if the two of them had to climb straight up a cliff in order to attack a band of twenty men, they would have been facing a virtual firing squad!

Jonathan was totally devoid of any spiritual manipulation, for he said…” if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.” He made himself and his partner even MORE vulnerable than Joshua’s circumcised army; thus he became INVULNERABLE. Notice, that not only was no one watching them, no one even knew where they were, except the Lord. There was no “go out in a blaze of glory” mindset here. This was pure devotion, pure worship.

“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; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” (1 Samuel 14:12)

Jonathan didn’t even say, “the LORD has given them into MY hands”. Nor did he say “into our hands”. Instead he said, “…into the hand of Israel.” He saw the bigness of God’s age-old covenant and focused very little on the size of his truly stupendous faith. He was not  trying to work up “faith in his faith”.


“Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him”. (I Samuel 14:13a).

“… using his hands and feet…”? What else would he be climbing with? This is subtly saying that Jonathan had no sword in his hand. We will soon see that he had given it to the “young man” with him, even as he later gave his weapons to David, which is a pattern with the David hearts. Saul hearts desperately cling to their weapons, as we will see. This was also saying that Jonathan had made himself a human shield for his armor bearer! He was NOT saying, “I have so much faith in this high-wire walker’s skill that I am going to have my SERVANT get into the wheel barrow he’s pushing!” No. Jonathan jumped into the wheel barrow FIRST! He was truly a servant leader, laying down his life for the sheep. No wonder his armor bearer could say, “I’m with you heart and soul.”


“The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.” (1 Samuel 14:13b)

There are many references in Samuel to persons falling physically in the presence of the Lord, from the idol Dagon to a murderous Saul. In every case they were the bad guys. Jonathan was not knocking these Philistines down with a sword, for he was killing none of them. Think about it: his armor bearer certainly was not coming behind him, finishing off those Jonathan was wounding with a sword, by beating them to death with a shield! Instead, the armor bearer was the only one with a lethal weapon – Jonathan’s sword! The Presence of God was on Jonathan to the extent that when he got near the Philistines, they fainted!

[Notice: the armor bearer was initiating no encounters of his own; he merely finished off what Jonathan started.]

Both up the cliff and on the plateau, Jonathan had become the shield, and his armor bearer had become the swordsman.

Every witch wants to wield spiritual power without submitting to the Source of All Power. Manipulation by carnal leaders in God’s camp has as its goal the acquisition of power without having to give up lordship of one’s life. Saul had not entrusted himself to the Lord at all. His son has entrusted himself to the Lord so much that God actually allowed Jonathan to use his Presence as a portable “weapon,” if you will. But Jonathan’s physical hands were not totally empty. He held, as we will see, the same thing David held in his hand when he went up against Goliath: a staff.


“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 God.
(I Samuel 14:14-15)

At this point this miracle was way past all possibility of it being the product of some psychological effect of Jonathan’s boldness. It was a full-fledged move of the Sovereign God! None of the twenty Philistines being attacked escaped to tell the other Philistines, which is a peculiar way for such a battle to turn out … unless they are frozen in place by God’s presence! Jonathan’s faith had become a sight that even the faithless could see AND FEEL, and see AND FEEL from a distance!


“Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in 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.” (1 Samuel 14-17)

God sometimes rubs our faces in what we refuse to see. Saul, the chief of nose counters, was finding that God was moving through a detachment from his army that was so small that even his paranoid eye for deserters had not noticed them when they left. However, Saul still missed the point. Though he didn’t really have a clue why the Philistines were fleeing, even he could see from “outward appearance” that they were. In view of these new circumstances, he was eager to attack because it is a logical thing for a carnal man to trust in what he can see, and what he saw was a golden opportunity to seize a moment of psychological momentum.


“Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (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”.” (I Samuel 14:18-19).

Ironically, Saul had prepared extensively for this moment. He had been hoping that a time would come when he would see with his natural eyes an advantage in attacking. He had NO inclination to determine when that moment had arrived by asking God. The preparations he had made for this moment had to do with his supreme concern for outward appearance. He had prepared, when such a moment did arrive, to perform a very special ritual in the sight of his men that would make it clear to them that he was getting Divine direction. Thus he planned to regain some of the status he lost when Samuel had so publicly rebuked him.

Saul’s plan was to keep the priest with the Ephod handy in case the golden moment presented itself. He had planned to inquire of the Lord at just the moment when he could see by natural mind that it was the right time to attack. He thought that when that moment arrived, the Lord would say, (through the High Priest) “Yeah, go get ’em Saul! We have a carnal advantage now, so maybe I can muster enough power to tip the scales in your favor and make your side win!” (He didn’t really believe in an omnipotent, omniscient God.)

Further, Saul had also anticipated that, if after several days in camp he suddenly walked up to the priest and asked him to inquire of God for him, his men might not see what he was doing until it was all over. His troops were scattered over the camp, and sound does not carry far outside. He thought they might not notice him talking to the High Priest at all, and if they did, they might think he was just over there talking to the High Priest about the weather or some such thing. For this reason, Saul, for the first and only time in his life, had the Ark of the Covenant brought to his camp. He knew if he suddenly summoned the Levites to bring the Ark to his personal tent, and at the same time summoned the High Priest, what he was doing would be seen by all his men and lost on no one. Even though they were outside, the movement of the Ark would be a dead giveaway that something big was about to transpire. He believed that then, when he inquired of the Lord, and all his men saw him doing it, he would be thought to be very spiritual. And of course God would have to cooperate, he thought, for God would surely not be able to afford to miss a good chance to beat his enemies!

Sadly, Saul had no idea that his heart was wide open before God. He didn’t know that he was the original Pharisee, blowing a trumpet as he gave his alms and milking a scenario for all it was worth. He did not know the Living God very well at all. And he didn’t know he was about to get the same scathing treatment that Jesus would later give the Pharisees.

Scholars have puzzled over why, in this one instance, the Ark was deemed necessary to inquire of the Lord. If you will indulge me as I say this … I believe I KNOW! It was only a prop to Saul, an instrument he had brought to his camp for the purpose of good “STAGING”. Further, I believe that the key to understanding the book of Samuel is the Book of Samuel itself – that it is written in wonderful Divine cycles of repetition. The Ark of the Covenant had never made it back to the tabernacle at Shiloh. It had been removed when the Israelites had said, “If we take this holy box thing that God sits on with us into battle, the Lord will have to fight for us! We’ll have Him cornered!” They were as disappointed then as Saul was about to be here. In both cases their error was that they couldn’t discern between witchcraft and the true Knowledge of the Holy One of Israel.

Saul’s situation when he inquired of the Lord was similar to that of “Bre’r Rabbit” when he hit “ol’ tar baby.” When God refused to answer him, Saul could not gracefully get loose from his situation, (which he set up to make himself look good), without making himself look a lot worse than he did to start with.

All his troops could see him acting “religiously”, inquiring of the Lord, when common sense alone would tell any half wit to go ahead and attack, before the fleeing enemy got completely away! They could see that their king had brought the Ark just so they would be cued as to what he was doing. They were thinking, “There is nothing less cool than someone who is trying that hard to look cool!” And Saul knew they knew. We, who sometimes have Saul hearts, always know that people know that we are trying to impress them, don’t we? We’ve all been there. That’s what made high school so rough!

God did not answer because He would not let Himself be reduced to a mere force to be manipulated by men for their own designs and purposes. The Heart God, Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel relentlessly pursues relationship with us, whether we want Him or not! Ahh … the Humility of the Lord!!! As the Apostle James said:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…” (James 4:3)

“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.” (I Samuel 14:20).

The Saul heart, which is the Philistine heart, always trusts in, and therefore lives by, the sword of the flesh. Consequently it dies by the same sword, of a self-inflicted wound. Saul, in his extreme unfaith, had found a way to take his wonderful prerogative to inquire of the God of heaven, and had managed to injure himself with it. Saul was also “in total confusion,” for he was seeing an awesome move of God and at the same time he was being totally humiliated by his abject failure to win the favor of his real “god,” which was the approval of his men. Saul and the Philistines were of the same spirit.


“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.” (I Samuel 14:21)

This is a nice way of saying that totally disloyal Israelite traitors could see by outward appearance that the tide was turning and so they began supporting the side that seemed most promising at the moment.


“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. “ (1 Samuel 14:22)

These were the deserters of the day turning into “sunshine patriots.”


“So the Lord 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.” (1 Samuel 14:24)

In his “total confusion” and extreme embarrassment Saul used his God-given authority not only to injure himself, but to strike his men a blow that would weaken them considerably. The fast he decreed was an embarrassed man’s effort to regain some measure of dignity, poise, and credibility. The fear and selfishness in Saul’s statement: “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies” stands in dark contrast to Jonathan’s secure, generous, selfless words: “The Lord has given them [the Philistines] into the hand of Israel.” Saul was all about Saul. Jonathan was all about God. Saul’s tireless efforts to look good before his men severely shortened the power and duration of the revival God had granted Israel. So much so that Satan almost managed to kill his greatest human enemy in the land and extinguish the brightest lamp in Israel, none other than Jonathan himself.


“The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground” (I Samuel 14:25)

One of God’s promises to Israel was that if they would be faithful, they would inherit “a land that flowed with milk and honey.”


“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.” ( (I Samuel 14:26)

These warriors were very aware that they could be judged by “outward appearance” so they were careful to protect themselves from even appearing to be eating. People know instinctively that a powerful paranoid is a dangerous man. Jonathan’s courage became a climate of courage, even sweeping up traitors and deserters. Saul’s fear became a climate of fear among his men. Legalistic compliance ascended the throne, displacing the freedom of Spirit-led obedience.


“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.” (I Samuel 14:27)

Why had Jonathan not heard about his father’s ridiculous rule? Because instead of watching things happen, or trying to figure out how to manipulate what was happening, Jonathan was out front MAKING things happen! He was out pioneering the frontiers of the will of God, running in free abandonment to the Spirit instead of hovering in the huddle of arbitrary rule makers, contending for credit for a move of God. His father, who did not know the ways of God, soon considered Jonathan worthy of death for not obeying a rule he could not have known about! And the reason he did not know about it was that he was one of only two men in the whole army in the perfect logistical will of God. As surely as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, the flesh man will inevitably try to murder the Spirit man, even if he is his own firstborn son AND his greatest benefactor.

And Jonathan, staff in hand, was a true Davidic shepherd, laying down his life for the sheep. I believe that the presence of God was on him so much that he had what his father hoped he could manipulate God and obtain: an irresistible power he could “operate” almost at will! As I said earlier, I believe that any Philistine soldier he could get close to “fainted” under the power of the Spirit. I further believe, (bear with me for a moment), that he may well have run by some of the Philistine livestock, and they fell out too! I think that when this happened he may then have thought, “I wonder if this will work on bees?” If you think I’m wrong, try jabbing a stick into a honey comb and see what happens to you! Jonathan was running through the woods in a free abandonment to God. Because of his faith filled vulnerability, he was at that moment totally INVULNERABLE! In that moment of supreme godliness he was virtually the master of all of God’s creation, even causing bees to faint!


“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?” (I Samuel 14:28-30)

Yes it would have. But Saul has snatched mediocrity from the jaws of total victory. The extreme irony is that while God was making the Philistines faint before Jonathan, Saul was doing his level best to make the Israelite soldiers faint! The power of Jonathan’s faith, as great as it was, was being superceded by Saul’s unbelief.


“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.”
(I Samuel 14:31-32)

For Hebrews, the day ends at sunset, so they were free of Saul’s curse at that point. But killing an animal in the customary kosher fashion takes some time and strength. Its throat is cut while it hangs by its heels, and then time is taken to wait for its blood to drain completely out before the meat is cut up. Seemingly, their fast combined with their great exertion had made these guys too weak to do all that. Thus, they came to be in violation of the first ceremonial law, the one that predates Moses and goes all the way back to the Noahic covenant. God had told Noah, basically, “Don’t eat blood.” They were
indeed guilty of this breach, but Saul, their shepherd, had tempted them (“caused” them) to fall to this sin.


“Then someone said to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the Lord 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 the Lord 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 the Lord ; it was the first time he had done this.
(I Samuel 14:35)

Notice that Saul became really zealous when it was time to enforcing the CEREMONIAL portion of the law. He was very particular about the externals, about “outward appearances.” Jesus was pressed by the Saul hearts of His day who were concerned with ceremony. He told them, “It’s not what goes into a man’s body that defiles him, it’s what comes out that defiles him.”

There is an interesting juxtaposition of the ceremonial law and the Spirit law in Leviticus 19:26.

It reads:
“Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. Do not practice divination or sorcery.”

The first part is about the external man. The second is about his heart. Divination, witchcraft, and sorcery are all matters of trying to BE a god by USING God, and His power, rather than be used by God. Saul practiced the former, (he was zealous about not eating blood), but he left the latter undone. Soon after this scene we will see Samuel pinning Saul down and charging him with divination, and rightly so, for he was headlong into it.


“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 God here.” (I Samuel 14:36)

Saul had no rest, for he knew, and he knew his men knew, they had lost their divinely given edge because of his carnal fast. By suggesting a night attack, he was trying to recover the momentum they had enjoyed earlier, for momentum is something even the natural man can appreciate.

There are a great many interesting parallels in this Divine book. Contrast this scene with the time when Jonathan proposed an attack on the Philistines to his armor bearer. The young man gave a heart-felt reply, “Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead, I am with you heart and soul.” Then Jonathan told him how they were going to determine God’s direction for them. He said they could hear from God THROUGH THE PHILISTINES! Here Saul proposed an attack and the men concede they will back him. At this point the priest, a descendant of Eli, had to coerce Saul into seeking God’s strategy. The priest said let’s “inquire of God here.” Notice how anemic is the shadow of what Saul did compared to what Jonathan did.

Why did the priest have to insist on inquiring of the Lord? Saul had become a burned child who feared (and resented) the fire. Because of his self focus, every time he tried to approach God, he got burned. His real god was the praise of men, and when he tried to manipulate the Living One for the benefit of his “god,” God purposely embarrassed him. The priest embarrassed him into inquiring of the Lord by suggesting it in front of the men. The Lord was about to further embarrass him by refusing to speak to him, also in front of the men!


“So Saul asked God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?” But God did not answer him that day.” (I Samuel 14:37)

And why didn’t God answer? If God had said, “No, don’t go,” Saul would have said “Yeah, I guess Jehovah’s right. We are a little on the tired side, slaughtering Philistines under the anointing is hard work! Yes sir, Jehovah and I, we’re tight! He’s directing this whole show because he approves of me and thinks I’m the stuff. Picked me out of the whole kingdom, remember?”

And if God had said “Yes, go,” Saul would said, “See there, God and I think alike! He’s endorsing my kingship and approves of the way I’ve led us in this battle! Ya’ll stick with me cause I’ve got God in my shirt pocket!”

So God was silent. Again. Anything God could have said would have made Him a party to Saul’s own self promotion and witchcraft. By trying to paint God into a corner and force Him to endorse his own kingship, Saul had in fact forced the God of Truth not to speak at all. Had God spoken, either “go” or “stay” He would have violated his own nature.

And God’s silence, under these particular circumstances, screamed that something or someone was WAY out of line! God had never refused to speak before. Israel had to either attack or not attack. Why would God not give them direction at such a crucial moment?


“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 the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if it lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.” But not one of the men said a word. ( (I Samuel 14:39)

God refused to speak through His designated medium of the Urim and Thummim, and when God is silent and still, men should be too. However, the theology of the Saul heart does not have a concept of waiting quietly with trusting dependence when God is silent. Saul was too nervous about WHAT THE MEN THOUGHT to do this. He thought he should make God speak. Worse, he thought he COULD make God speak! He decided to cast lots declaring he was going to execute as the guilty party whoever the lot fell on! This Saul mentality was really trying to extort God; it seemed to Saul that God HAD to speak through the lots, or else an innocent man would be killed. Saul was going to do something, even if it was wrong! He was so embarrassed he could not quietly endure it, for the praise of men and the fear of their rejection had become his whole purpose in life. And God had made him look pretty sorry, so far.

Saul’s problem was, God would not be manipulated, even by extortion. God is God. There are times when men refuse to listen to The Heart God whose vocabulary is trust and relationship. The price is too high for their fearful, self protecting hearts. Sometimes they insist on hearing from God, or at least “a god” of some kind, but they want it on their own stingy terms. Saul, in casting the lots to choose whom should be killed, was doing that here. In the dark vacuum between God’s refusal and man’s insistence Satan has authority to speak. Sometimes people refuse God’s prerequisite of seeking His Face, and yet they insist on receiving direction. If that person then goes to a spiritualist, (even a spiritualist that doesn’t believe in his own craft), Satan will come through the cracks and speak to you …to your great detriment! This, by the way, is how a ouija board works and why they should be avoided like the plague.

In this light we can understand the following very enigmatic verse:

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” – Proverbs 16:33

This is true because if a person tries to force God to speak through lots or other media, the Lord will permit the enemy of our souls to injure us greatly

I believe there is more insight into how to hear from God in Samuel than in any other book in the Bible. But there is also much insight into how NOT to hear from the Lord!


“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 the Lord , the God of Israel, “Give me the right answer.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken by lot, and the men were cleared. (I Samuel 14:41)

The text of the prayer was as right as his enforcement of the law against eating blood. But his heart was wrong, and thus he was about to err as greatly as he did when he enforced the law against eating blood. His error was in fact carrying him to the brink of murder. First Samuel repeatedly shows us David hearts violating the letter of the law, and yet still being accepted. This book also shows us Saul hearts upholding the law, for impure motives, and being rejected by God.

This was the moment Saul made the first reckless steps toward the tragic day when his self focus would cause he and Jonathan to fall by the sword, side by side on Mt. Gilboa. Consider the dangerous potential scenarios Saul was embracing: If hard justice was directing the lots, Saul was doomed. If Satan was directing them, Jonathan was doomed. And if random chance was directing them, there was a 50% chance that the lot would fall on Saul or Jonathan, and the house of Saul was going to be bereaved either way.


“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 God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan.” (I Samuel 14:44)

When Saul tried to use a religious sacrifice to manipulate his soldiers at Gilgal, Samuel prophesied to Saul that his kingdom would not endure. It’s not that a petty God got mad at Saul for breaking His arbitrary rules and He wanted to get back at Saul for it. The very sin Saul had committed at Gilgal, witchcraft, which on that day took the form of an unauthorized sacrifice motivated by the fear of men … this same sin was about to cause him to offer another unauthorized sacrifice, the life of his son, and thus extinguish the brightest hope for the future of his house! Saul was desperately attempting to “save his own life” in the spiritual sense Jesus warned against. And true to Jesus’ warning, Saul was endangering his life by trying to save it. If he’d had his way, he’d have snuffed out Jonathan’s life, and with him any hope for his own household!

You may have read the above Scripture and thought that God was mad at Jonathan for eating the honey. Trust me on this – God was NOT mad at Jonathan for breaking a rule he had not been told about, that he could not have known about because he was in the EXACT center of God’s geographical will … perhaps more than anyone in history! And the pronouncing of the curse by Saul was a pure act of witchcraft, uttered by a “Philistine heart”. He was acting like the other Philistines, who at that moment were “in total confusion, striking each other with their swords” ! It was a sorry effort by Saul to appear to his men to be leading a “move of God.” As you may remember, Saul eventually committed suicide – that is, he died by striking himself with his own sword, the same way most of the Philistines died in this chapter.

In the Noahic Covenant, God only gave two prohibitions: one a spiritual law, the other a ceremonial law. The ceremonial law, as I said before, was basically, “Don’t eat blood,” which Saul seemed eager to uphold. But the spiritual law given to Noah was “Don’t commit murder.” (Genesis 9). This law Saul was willing to trample without a second thought. It is built into the very nature of the Saul heart that, given enough time, its fear will beget envy, its envy ambition, and its ambition, murder. The New Testament gospels detail how this process led to the murder of Jesus.


“But the men said to Saul, “Should Jonathan die-he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.” So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.” (I Samuel 14:45)

Thankfully, God often rescues us by dividing Satan against his own house. Saul’s fear of rejection by men, which was what was endangering Jonathan to begin with, also rescued Jonathan from Saul. In reality, Saul was not leading his men, for he was not a shepherd. They were leading him, and both he and they knew it.

Verse 44 is more literally “May God do so to me, and more also, if you do not die, Jonathan!” The oaths in this book are often fulfilled in an ironic way not intended by the oath maker. Saul had said, basically, “May God kill me if I don’t kill you, Jonathan.” The day of his actual death, Saul was in one sense killed by a Philistine arrow, and in another sense he killed himself with his sword. In another sense, he was also killed by the Lord. If you sin against the nature of the One Who made everything vibrate to His frequency, you will shake yourself apart. Said another way, The I AM will kill you. He is God. He can’t not be God.

On the other hand, and even more ironically, Saul really did kill Jonathan. Though Saul’s physical spear “missed” Jonathan that day, and, would later miss Jonathan again, his spiritual spear of manipulation pinned Jonathan to the walls of Saul’s own prison, a prison of fear.

Later, because of his father, Jonathan was not free to leave Saul and go strengthen the fugitive David. David was the nemesis of all Philistines, and since David was weakened by Jonathan’s absence, the Philistines were consequently less restrained. And since the Philistines were less restrained, they were able to kill Saul and Jonathan. Truly Saul spoke more than he knew when he said, “May God do so to me, and more also, if you do not die, Jonathan!” His curse was fulfilled, even though it was pure witchcraft. Saul’s vain declaration of a fast in the middle of a battle weakened his men. This was a prophetic foreshadowing of his weakening the mighty Jonathan and David to his own eventual destruction

“Then Saul stopped pursuing the Philistines, and they withdrew to their own land. “ (I Samuel 14:46)

Saul, by relentlessly pursuing his own “god,” had first slowed, and then stopped a move of God in its tracks. Was one of these escaping Philistine soldiers whom Saul was unable to pursue on this day the very one who would later shoot the arrow that mortally woundeded him?


“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.” (I Samuel 14:48)

Saul was at once a mighty man of God, and at the same time he was a small soul with a terminal case of unbelief. As painful as it is to read of David’s sin, somehow reading of Saul’s times of valor and zeal are even sadder, knowing his final end.


“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.” (I Samuel 14:52)

Most of the above family members will figure into our coming story.