DAY ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY THREE : 1 Samuel 13 v. 1 – 14 v. 23; John 13 v. 18 – 38; Psalm 66 v. 13 – 20
Samuel Rebukes Saul – So Saul is thirty when he becomes king, and he rules for forty-two years. He chooses 3,000 men to be with him at Michmash, whilst 1,000 are with Jonathan at Gibeah. All the rest of the me he sent home.
Jonathan attacks Geba (Philistine outpost) – and the Philistines are alerted; so Saul spreads the news throughout Israel that all should join him against the Philistines at Gilgal.
When the Israelites see the size of the Philistine army (chariots, soldiers etc), they panic and they hid in caves, cisterns and among rocks (some even crossed over the Jordan to escape). Saul, waiting for seven days for Samuel to arrive, is in Gilgal with his troops who are trembling with fear. When it looks like Samuel isn’t coming, Saul takes it upon himself to offer the burnt and fellowship offerings. Of course, as always happens, just as he finished this, Samuel arrived, and is not best pleased.
‘You acted foolishly…you have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you…now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.’
Oops – Saul thought he could do what he liked, but in taking the part of the priest, the king will soon run the risk of seeing himself as a god / God. Notice how Saul blames ‘the people’ (v. 11), a trait we will see at each point he seems to move further away from his God-ordained role.
Israel Without Weapons – these verses underline Israel’s predicament. The Philistines have kept all the blacksmiths to themselves, so that the Israelites are dependent upon them for their ploughshares, axes and sickles, but also their weapons. So they are about to enter battle with the Philistines, and they have no weapons (only Saul and his son, Jonathan, had swords). The Philistines begin sending out ‘raiding parties’ into Israelite territories.
Jonathan Attacks the Philistines – Jonathan sneaks out without his father’s knowledge, with his armour-bearer. Meanwhile Saul is under a pomegranate tree with six hundred men, along with the priestly family’s Ahijah (through Eli’s line).
So just the two of them – Jonathan and his faithful armour-bearer (‘Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul’) – set off between two cliffs towards the Philistines. Jonathan lays a sort of fleece, waiting to see how the Philistines will greet him – if they invite him over, it will be a sign to him that God has already delivered them into his hands. This is what happens, and Jonathan and his armour-bearer kill twenty of the Philistines who had called Jonathan up to them ‘to teach him (you) a lesson’.
The first episodes with Jonathan show him to be a very courageous and faith-filled man.
Israel Routs the Philistines – at the news of this attack, it’s the Philistines who are sent into a frenzied panic. Their army ‘melts away in all directions’.
Saul discovers that Jonathan and his armour-bearer are missing. Saul calls for Abijah to bring the ark of the covenant, whilst the Philistine army continues to be in disarray.
Saul sets into battle, against the Philistines who had been thrown into total confusion. All the Israelites who had gone into hiding returned to battle. ‘The Lord rescued Israel’.
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal – ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me’, Jesus quotes Psalm 41 v. 9, to indicate that it’s one of His closest friends who will betray Him. Jesus is troubled in spirit and spells it out for them. One of them is His betrayer. The disciples are horrified and throw glances across each other. The ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ (probably the apostle John, himself), urged on by Peter, asks Jesus who it is. Jesus replied that the one He gives the dipped bread to is the one – and promptly passes the bread to Judas.
Evil enters Judas at that point, John tells us.
Jesus tells him to hurry up and do what he has to. Judas hurries out into the night (though some thought he’d only gone to buy some more provisions !).
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial – Jesus talks about this being the moment of God’s glory, made known in the glory of the Son; He tells the disciples He won’t be with them much longer, He is making a journey they won’t be able to take.
‘A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
Peter asks where He is going, and Jesus says, again, that He is going somewhere they won’t be able to follow, at least not just yet.
Peter wants to be with Jesus through it all, and pledges his undying support – ‘I will lay down my life for you.’
Jesus breaks the news that within that very night, before the cock heralds the dawn, Peter will disown Jesus publicly three times.
I guess it is helpful to know that even when we let Jesus down badly, denying His presence by our actions, words, thoughts, He already knows. He is not as shocked as we are. His is calm and reassuring, even when we panic.
‘Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.
God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
Praise be to God…’