Fun fact: It may be 42 years, it may be 20 years, it may be something entirely different! In the original Hebrew, there were no years given for his reign or his age. In the American Standard Version, Saul was 40 years old, and two years into his reign is when today’s passage happens.
Because I was a little confused by the numbers, trying to figure out when Saul’s son would have been old enough to do these things, I uncovered (thanks to my Bible scholar husband) these disparities. Putting this aside, we see Saul is now selecting his army. As king, that would be one of the things on his agenda. No matter what the length of time actually is, Saul was the first king, given by God in answer to the Israelites request.
For today there is victory. “Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba.” Jonathan was given credit for this victory but it was Saul who took the credit just a few verses later. They were both on the same team, so to speak.
Have you ever had a situation where you did something noteworthy only to have credit be taken by someone else? It’s hard. We have a choice when that happen–to make a scene and claim our victory or quietly let the glory to elsewhere. What have you done?
The text is silent as to Jonathan’s response. As a true warrior, he realizes that any victory that came at his hand would be reflected under his father’s reign by mere protocol. When you are a team player, it’s much easier to sit back and let credit fall where credit falls.
This victory inflamed the Philistines more than ever. Their anger burning against the Israelites will lead to more fighting and military maneuvering. The Israelites are trembling with fear as they watch the Philistine response. The Philistine army was massive, “as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore!”
Fight or flight was the question. Saul’s army was thinning out, at least that’s my understanding from the use of the word “escaped.” To expect any different, that the Philistines would just roll over and not put up a fight, would have been ignorant. Saul’s army, his son in particular, had started something big.
I see one thing missing. At least to this point in the story, Saul has not called out to God. How often have we forged ahead without asking for God’s help? We may have succeeded on our own a time or two, that’s certainly possible. But what is for sure is that when God is at the center of a situation, a movement, or a cause, success will follow if that is what God intended. Said more directly, God’s will will be done.
Which story speaks more to you today? Jonathan’s humble victory or Saul’s forging ahead of God?
Lord, thank you for how your Word is alive and active. All these years later we can still learn life lessons from the Bible heroes and those used by you. I pray that you will find me worthy and use me. May I be living in your will and doing your will. Reveal that to me, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.