Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 14:24 (NIV)
Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.
1 Samuel 14:24 (MSG)
Saul did something really foolish that day. He addressed the army: “A curse on the man who eats anything before evening, before I’ve wreaked vengeance on my enemies!” None of them ate a thing all day.
“But the men of Israel were hard-pressed that day, because Saul had put the people under a curse, saying, “Cursed be the man who eats food before evening, and before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people ate any food.” -AMPLIFIED
Yesterday we looked at how Jonathan and his armor-bearer attacked the Philistines completely on their own and really shook things up with God’s help. We learned amazing things can happen when God steps in. Today we are going to look at what happens when people make foolish vows that they really have no business making and which they cannot keep.
Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty Philistines. Their attack had a domino effect; causing chaos within the Philistine camp. The enemy began to go nuts; it was panic everywhere. Saul’s sentries saw what was happening over in the enemy’s camp and reported back to Saul what they were seeing.
Saul gave the roll-call to see who was missing from the camp and it was found that Jonathan and his armor-bearer were absent. Saul called Ahijah, the priest, to bring the ephod in order for them to consult the Lord. While Saul was having a conversation with Ahijah things suddenly started getting even more chaotic over in the Philistines camp.
Scripture tells us this:
“Saul immediately called his army together and they went straight to the battle. When they got there they found total confusion—Philistines swinging their swords wildly, killing each other. Hebrews who had earlier defected to the Philistine camp came back. They now wanted to be with Israel under Saul and Jonathan. Not only that, but when all the Israelites who had been hiding out in the backwoods of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were running for their lives, they came out and joined the chase. God saved Israel! What a day! The fighting moved on to Beth Aven. The whole army was behind Saul now—ten thousand strong!—with the fighting scattering into all the towns throughout the hills of Ephraim.” -1 Samuel 14:20-23 (MSG)
Every soldier in Saul’s army was giving 100% for Saul and Jonathan; especially since they heard that the Philistines were running for their very lives. Every man, 10,000 men, was fighting in support of Saul and what does Saul do? He makes a very foolish vow. “A curse on anyone who stops to eat before evening comes and I have my revenge on my enemies!” -(VOICE)
How ridiculous! Every man was sweating, fighting, and working hard. Of course they were expending great amounts of energy. They were tired and hungry; yet they had been forbidden to eat anything. To make things worse, we are told that area where they were fighting there was a great oozing honeycomb dripping honey. Yet no one would touch it because of Saul’s vow; which was taken to be a curse.
Jonathan, who had not been there when Saul had made the vow, saw the the honey and went to get some to refresh himself. Once he ate of it he was refreshed and strengthened. “A soldier spoke up, “Your father has put the army under solemn oath, saying, ‘A curse on the man who eats anything before evening!’ No wonder the soldiers are drooping!” -1 Samuel 14:28 (MSG)
Jonathan’s response to the soldier’s statement was, “My father has imperiled the country. Just look how quickly my energy has returned since I ate a little of this honey! It would have been a lot better, believe me, if the soldiers had eaten their fill of whatever they took from the enemy. Who knows how much worse we could have whipped them!” -1 Samuel 14:29-30 (MSG)
Saul’s rash vow put his army at a disadvantage. Jonathan saw this fact and even pointed out, “…if the men had been able to eat from the spoils; think about how much greater our victory could have been.”
Saul could have learned a thing or two from Solomon. Solomon penned these words, “If you make a promise to God, do not be slow to keep it; for He takes no pleasure in fools. So do what you have promised. In fact, it would be better not to make a vow in the first place than to make it and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you to sin, and do not claim before the temple messenger that your vow was a mistake. Why should God be angry at the sound of your voice and destroy everything you’ve worked hard to achieve?” -Ecclesiastes 5:4-6 (VOICE)
Jesus also reminded His followers of the need to keep their vows, but also of the wisdom in not making a rash vow. “You know that God expects us to abide by the oaths we swear and the promises we make. But I tell you this: do not ever swear an oath. What is an oath? You cannot say, “I swear by heaven”—for heaven is not yours to swear by; it is God’s throne. And you cannot say, “I swear by this good earth,” for the earth is not yours to swear by; it is God’s footstool. And you cannot say, “I swear by the holy city Jerusalem,” for it is not yours to swear by; it is the city of God, the capital of the King of kings. You cannot even say that you swear by your own head, for God has dominion over your hands, your lips, your head. It is He who determines if your hair be straight or curly, white or black; it is He who rules over even this small scrap of creation. You need not swear an oath—any impulse to do so is of evil. Simply let your “yes” be “yes,” and let your “no” be “no.”” -Matthew 5:33-37 (VOICE)
Do not be like Saul, making rash vows. Instead, simply allow your “YES” to be “YES” and your “NO” to be “NO”. Be careful, lest you put yourself in an awkward, impossible situation; as Saul did to himself.
Let us be people of our word!
Lord, help me to have wisdom, your wisdom, in knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. Help me not to make foolish or rash vows that I may not be able to keep; for I know they are not pleasing to you. You are a God of your WORD! And I want to be a person who can be trusted too. Help me to emulate you, dear Lord.