Well, I did what I said I wasn't going to do--fall dreadfully behind in my reading. But since I'm only human, I guess it was inevitable. This past weekend and week have been crazy busy and I feel like I'm just now coming up for air! Instead of trying to read and blog for the past 5 days, I will start today with a clean slate and move forward from here.
When I left off, Saul had just become king. He has now appointed a small army of men under his command, but one of his leaders (Jonathon) attacks a Philistine governor. This obviously ticks them off and they rise up to attack Israel. Seeing that they are out numbered, Israel flees and hides in caves and pits. Saul is given instructions from Samuel (which he obeys) but takes matters into his own hands. When Samuel shows up, he rebukes Saul and lets him know that God is out looking for his replacement as king. Saul's days are numbered.
We now learn that Jonathon is Saul's son. He goes on a rogue mission with his armor-bearer and succeeds in throwing the entire Philistine camp into a frenzy. When Saul sees this, he sends in his men and God saves Israel--men who had previously defected to the Philistines wanted to rejoin Israel, Israelites in hiding came out to fight, the Philistines were even so confused they were killing each other!
Afterward, the Israelite army is walking in the woods and sees honey all over the place. This would have been great, but Saul gave them strict instructions not to eat anything during the day or something bad would happen. I am not sure why this command was given--you'd think you would want your soldiers in tip-top shape... Jonathon tastes a bit of the honey and then causes the men to go wild after they see how his strength renews-killing sheep and other animals and eating the meat along with the blood (something that was strictly forbidden). To stop this, Saul has a large stone placed for the men to kill their animals on and do it right. This is how Saul builds his first altar to God.
Saul asks God if they should continue to press the Philistine army or hold back--but God is silent. Saul in convinced this silence is due to some evil or sin and asks with whom the sin lies--it comes out that it is with Jonathon. He decides he must be killed for his wickedness, but the men save him because of his valiant effort in slaying the Philistines. The reading ends stating that throughout Saul's entire reign, there was a struggle with the Philistines.
This passage was a little confusing with all the war talk. I even had to read it a second time using The Message translation to see it in more layman's terms. It was good reading through it and seeing it all in a different light. Saul is a very interesting character in this whole narrative. I think he means well and wants to look good in front of his men, but just keeps going about things the wrong way and ends up in a bitter war for the duration of his reign.
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