Jonathan's contrast #4
|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. |
38 Saul therefore said, "Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. 39 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.
40 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.
41 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. 42 Saul said, "Cast the lot between me and Jonathan my son." And Jonathan was taken.
43 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?"
44 Saul said, "May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you do not die, Jonathan."
45 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. (1Samuel14:37-45)
Saul made a vow to the Lord, binding his men to a fast on the day of the battle. Although the vow was foolish, it was binding. Because Jonathan (unknowingly) had eaten honey, the vow had been broken and so when Saul wanted an answer from God, God was silent.
Saul totally over-reacts. With pious fervour he declares "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."
The soldiers know it is Jonathan, but they're silent. So, they cast lots and Jonathan is singled out - and Saul, in order to save face, is ready to kill him. (This is Saul's self-imposed consequence, not God's...) Jonathan is flabbergasted. The punishment doesn't even come close to fitting the crime. The soldiers are adamant - Jonathan and not Saul has been the hero of the day and so they protect him.
Saul had lost perspective. He wasn't seeing or thinking clearly.
Not only was Jonathan his son, but Jonathan was a hero and someone whose actions were Divinely inspired and blessed. Saul would have done better to repent of his foolish vow than to want to put Jonathan to death. Jonathan, on the other hand, doesn't even try to exploit the foolishness of his father.
This account shows how Saul's leadership failures multiply:
- His insecurity causes him to make an ill-considered vow
and it makes him dogmatic about killing Jonathan.
- His desire to appear "spiritual" makes his choice of vow foolish
It also makes him come up with the over-the-top death penalty plan
- His pride makes him want to chase his enemies in the dark
It also makes him unwilling to admit his mistake
And it makes him willing to kill his son, the hero
Later, when David threatens Saul's limelight, he wants to kill him too...
Insecurity, keeping up appearances and pride are deadly enemies to people who are called to serve and lead. We should check our own souls carefully...