1 Samuel 13 — Impatience cost Saul the kingdom (v. 14). Notice how “as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering” Samuel came (v. 10). It always seems to work out like that, doesn’t it? You’re waiting on something and right after impatience gets the best of you, the thing you’ve been waiting on shows up.
The translation choices for אפק in v. 12 are interesting. The KJV/ESV/NRSV have “forced” while the NET has “felt obligated” and the NIV/NLT has “felt compelled.” I like “forced” here since it seems to fit better with the narrative; almost as if to say that Saul went against his better judgment.
What does v. 22 tell us? Saul and Jonathan have weapons of war (i.e., swords and spears) and the men with them have farming equipment. Something is wrong with this picture.
1 Samuel 14:13 — I’m a bit unclear on what happened here. Did Jonathan and the armor-bearer kill Philistines or did Jonathan simply put them in a position for the armor-bearer to be able to kill them? It’s weirdly worded. They “fell before” (ויפלו לפני) Jonathan but the armor-bearer “slew/killed” (ממותת) them “after/behind” (אחריו) Jonathan. So does “fell before” mean that they died at the hand of Jonathan? Or did Jonathan just incapacitate them? And what does “after/behind” indicate? Does it tell us that the armor-bearer killed Philistines after Jonathan killed Philistines, or does it just tell us that the armor-bearer came after/behind Jonathan and killed them himself? The following verse doesn’t much help to clear up the ambiguity. Perhaps someone more well versed in matters of Hebrew and OT can help me out here.
1 Samuel 14:24-30 — So is Jonathan guilty of breaking the oath when he didn’t know about it? And what does it tell us about Jonathan that he wasn’t penitent or remorseful once he found out about the oath? He opted to contradict his father rather than make amends. His attitude seemed to have been infectious, only rather than eating honey, the people started eating food with blood in it (vv. 31-33). They moved past oath breaking to law breaking.
1 Samuel 14:36, 40 — The first time we read the phrase “whatever seems good to you” is in Judges 10:15 where the people of Israel sinned against the LORD and are repenting and crying out for deliverance. It was directed toward God. Later in judges the phrase pops up again when the old man offers his virgin daughter and the Levites concubine to the crowd to be raped and murdered (Judg. 19:24). So there’s a devolution of the term from God to the most deplorable men imaginable. But it reminds us of Israel’s situation during the period of the judges where everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Now we find the phrase used 3 times in 1 Samuel and it’s always directed to Saul (11:10; 14:36, 40). So my question is this: Is Saul more like God or more like the murderous crowd? Saul wants to deal justly with his son’s vow breaking (vv. 39-44), which seems quite god-like, but is he all that different from the crowd willing to kill the old man’s virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine?
1 Samuel 15 — Stuff just got real! We see Saul doing something that the nation of Israel will do repeatedly throughout her history; disobey and offer sacrifice as if that makes it okay. The pattern is always the same; disobedience and idolatry leads to ruin; to exile. And is it all that surprising? Israel had a perfect King in the LORD and they rejected him for a deeply flawed man. They chose to serve the creature rather than the Creator (cf. Rom. 1:25).