1 Samuel 14:16-46 (Part 2) – It’s Crunch Time: How Much Do You REALLY Trust God?

Posted: January 20, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 14:16-46 (Part 2 of 3)
Israel Defeats the Philistine & Saul’s Foolish Oath

What would you do? What if you told God that you would do whatever he asked and then crunch time came? Most of us are like Peter at the first Lord’s Supper who vowed that he would die for Jesus rather than desert him. Then crunch time came. He crumbled. He denied Jesus not once, not twice, but three times. He was afraid. He was scared. He was relying on himself rather than on God. He valued his earthly existence more than his heavenly reward. That night of denying Jesus in crunch time ended up being the fuel that powered Peter for the rest of his ministry. When Jesus forgave him and commissioned him to look after Jesus’ flock, Peter felt as though he didn’t deserve the love and forgiveness he got from Jesus and it fueled his passion for the gospel the rest of his life. When we read the Bible, we know in advance that Peter is going to deny Jesus three times. We have heard the story since we were children so we know it’s going to happen.

But what if we were there that night. What if you and I had been with Jesus for three years, virtually day and night, when we not out fishing or spending time with our families. These guys had been with Jesus for those three years and they felt pretty strongly that they were tight with Jesus. They had ate meals together. They had traveled together from town to town. They had sat around campfires. I can envision that at those campfires, there was laughter and sometimes jokes (seeing as how God invented humor and Jesus was God in the flesh). I bet those were some great times. And I bet around those campfires, Jesus had them captivated with his lessons about God’s Word and about the meaning of life and about anything. Jesus I bet was a captivating small group leader. These guys had done everything with Jesus and they knew he loved them and he knew that they admired and loved him in return. So, at the Lord’s Supper, the thought that they would betray him was beyond comprehension for them. They thought they had what it took. They thought their love for Jesus and their loyalty to Him was greater than any fear of losing their life. But, then, crunch time came. They all scattered. They all crapped out. They all shrunk away from the moment. In the grand scheme of things, God used it to ensure the establishment and survival of God’s church but they made these grand vows to Jesus that they would never betray or abandon Him but when it came crunch time, they bailed.

Some of us find ourselves there. We may grand vows to God. We may say to the Lord while we live in our cushy little worlds and our safe jobs and surrounded by our families and the safety of the known and familiar that we will follow wherever God leads us. You may even pray earnest prayers from deep in your soul that you will leave everything behind and follow wherever God leads you in addition to making public vows of the same.

Then, crunch time comes. God provides the opportunity to keep your vow that you have made and the prayers you have been praying. Then, the fear comes. The doubt comes. You then list the 100 reasons why right now is not the best time for me to fulfill my vow and act on answered prayers. We begin to think of how hard it is to follow the Lord in what He is asking us to do. We shrink away. We think that we cannot do what we have vowed we would do. We begin thinking about security and safety and our kids and maybe if you are lucky enough to have them, grandkids, and our life that we have made in the place that we are. We tell the Lord then, there are too many obstacles. We look horizontally instead of toward the heavens. We think of our control and not His. We wonder how we would actually live in doing what God has called us to do and what we have vowed to do. Have you ever had a crunch time like that with the Lord? Have you shied away from a vow that you have made to the Lord because when it came down to it, you did not trust your own power to do it rather than trusting the Lord to empower you and keep you and make it glorifying in some way to the kingdom?

I think we all have those moments where in the safety and security of the world we know that we vow to God that we will do this for Him or that for Him such as dropping everything to be a missionary in a foreign land, or to be a church planter in Connecticut when you live now in little ol’ Lyman, SC, or to go into the ministry full time, or to even just start tithing when your budget is tight as a drum right now. When it’s crunch time, when God presents you with the opportunity to follow through on your promise to Him, what will you do? Trust yourself and shy away or will you trust God and move forward in doing what you promised God you would do?

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning when I read this passage. It is how Saul talked a big game about being the Lord’s man but really in the bottom line, he trusted himself more. Everything that he may have couched in terms of honoring God, it was really about him trusting himself more than he trusted God. That led him to make rash decisions. That led him to make rash vows. That led him to make foolish vows. Another example of this I trust myself more than God mentality of Saul can be found in this passage. Let’s read this passage now, 1 Samuel 14:16-46:


16 Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin saw a strange sight—the vast army of Philistines began to melt away in every direction.[a] 17 “Call the roll and find out who’s missing,” Saul ordered. And when they checked, they found that Jonathan and his armor bearer were gone.

18 Then Saul shouted to Ahijah, “Bring the ephod here!” For at that time Ahijah was wearing the ephod in front of the Israelites.[b] 19 But while Saul was talking to the priest, the confusion in the Philistine camp grew louder and louder. So Saul said to the priest, “Never mind; let’s get going!”[c]

20 Then Saul and all his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other. There was terrible confusion everywhere. 21 Even the Hebrews who had previously gone over to the Philistine army revolted and joined in with Saul, Jonathan, and the rest of the Israelites. 22 Likewise, the men of Israel who were hiding in the hill country of Ephraim joined the chase when they saw the Philistines running away. 23 So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle continued to rage even beyond Beth-aven.

24 Now the men of Israel were pressed to exhaustion that day, because Saul had placed them under an oath, saying, “Let a curse fall on anyone who eats before evening—before I have full revenge on my enemies.” So no one ate anything all day, 25 even though they had all found honeycomb on the ground in the forest. 26 They didn’t dare touch the honey because they all feared the oath they had taken.

27 But Jonathan had not heard his father’s command, and he dipped the end of his stick into a piece of honeycomb and ate the honey. After he had eaten it, he felt refreshed.[d] 28 But one of the men saw him and said, “Your father made the army take a strict oath that anyone who eats food today will be cursed. That is why everyone is weary and faint.”

29 “My father has made trouble for us all!” Jonathan exclaimed. “A command like that only hurts us. See how refreshed I am now that I have eaten this little bit of honey. 30 If the men had been allowed to eat freely from the food they found among our enemies, think how many more Philistines we could have killed!”

31 They chased and killed the Philistines all day from Micmash to Aijalon, growing more and more faint. 32 That evening they rushed for the battle plunder and butchered the sheep, goats, cattle, and calves, but they ate them without draining the blood. 33 Someone reported to Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that still has blood in it.”

“That is very wrong,” Saul said. “Find a large stone and roll it over here. 34 Then go out among the troops and tell them, ‘Bring the cattle, sheep, and goats here to me. Kill them here, and drain the blood before you eat them. Do not sin against the Lord by eating meat with the blood still in it.’”

So that night all the troops brought their animals and slaughtered them there. 35 Then Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first of the altars he built to the Lord.

36 Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.”

His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.”

But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.”

37 So Saul asked God, “Should we go after the Philistines? Will you help us defeat them?” But God made no reply that day.

38 Then Saul said to the leaders, “Something’s wrong! I want all my army commanders to come here. We must find out what sin was committed today. 39 I vow by the name of the Lord who rescued Israel that the sinner will surely die, even if it is my own son Jonathan!” But no one would tell him what the trouble was.

40 Then Saul said, “Jonathan and I will stand over here, and all of you stand over there.”

And the people responded to Saul, “Whatever you think is best.”

41 Then Saul prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, please show us who is guilty and who is innocent.[e]” Then they cast sacred lots, and Jonathan and Saul were chosen as the guilty ones, and the people were declared innocent.

42 Then Saul said, “Now cast lots again and choose between me and Jonathan.” And Jonathan was shown to be the guilty one.

43 “Tell me what you have done,” Saul demanded of Jonathan.

“I tasted a little honey,” Jonathan admitted. “It was only a little bit on the end of my stick. Does that deserve death?”

44 “Yes, Jonathan,” Saul said, “you must die! May God strike me and even kill me if you do not die for this.”

45 But the people broke in and said to Saul, “Jonathan has won this great victory for Israel. Should he die? Far from it! As surely as the Lord lives, not one hair on his head will be touched, for God helped him do a great deed today.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.

46 Then Saul called back the army from chasing the Philistines, and the Philistines returned home.

In this passage, we see that Saul made this vow because was overly anxious to defeat the Philistines and wanted to give his soldiers an incentive to finish the battle quickly. In the Bible, God never asked His people to make oaths or vow, but, if they did, he expected them to keep them (Leviticus 5:4, Numbers 30). Saul’s vow is not something God would have condoned, but still it was a vow. And Jonathon, though he was not aware that the vow had been made, was nevertheless guilty of breaking it. Saul made a vow that risked the life of his own child just like Jephthah in Judges 11. Fortunately, Saul’s own people intervened to prevent the heir to the throne from being killed. This vow was not intended to honor God. It was intended to get what Saul wanted. He was not thinking of God’s power. He was thinking of his own will. He wanted what he wanted. He made a show of honoring God but he was really thinking under His own power and not trusting God. If he had trusted God, he would not have made such a foolish vow. The foolishness of his vow is just ample evidence of how Saul trusted himself more than God.

It’s crunch time. Do you trust God or do you trust your own power (even though you may couch it in terms of God just doesn’t want you to do what you promised right now). Maybe, it is time for you to put your trust in the Lord. Maybe instead of thinking and praying about what you will do for the Lord and it being some far off dream, there will come a day when you have make a choice. Do what you have promised God and even prayed to God to come true or shy away? Is following God beyond the comfort zone more than you are really willing to do? Is participating in outreach events ultimately the most you are willing to do? Is going on a mission trip ultimately as far as you are willing to follow God even though you have promised God that you would leave everything behind and follow Him if he sent you to Haiti or southernmost Mexico, or Japan, or Iraq, or Iran, or wherever? Have you prayed for these things but really in the back of your mind you knew it would never come to pass so realllly your faith would never have to be tested. What if it was actually crunch time? There are 100 reasons not to do what you promised to God and only 1 reason to do what you promised to God. Faith in God to provide for you and protect you and trust that some kingdom good will come our out of our faith in Him. Do you trust God or yourself (like Saul)?

Amen and Amen.

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