In the concluding part of our series “Sweeter Than Honey” (Sunday 7th June 2020), having previously considered the accounts of two characters found in the Book of Judges, Deborah the prophetess and Samson the Nazarite, we move to 1 Samuel 14. In this chapter we find the account of Jonathan, son of Saul, and his armourbearer, who together attack the Philistine garrison whilst Saul and some 600 Israelite men are hiding in a cave.
The Lord is with Jonathan and He delivers the Philistine camp into his hands. Saul however, ever the opportunist, seeing the confusion in the Philistine camp orders his men into the fray and keen to enforce his victory and motivate his men to finish the work undertaken by God through Jonathan, makes a rash, self-serving oath. “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies” he says.
Jonathan of course, having been absent from the camp when his father made the oath, is completely ignorant of it. Therefore, returning from battle, as he walked through the honey laden woods, he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened. However, someone saw him do it and having brought Saul’s oath to Jonathan’s attention, Jonathan is later sentenced to death by his father’s curse.
But the Israelite people would have none of it and said to Saul “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So, the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.
Interestingly, depending upon which Bible translation one favours, that final sentence might read “So, the people rescued, redeemed, ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die”. Rescued, redeemed and ransomed are all words we think of when we think of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on Calvary’s cross where He rescued, redeemed and ransomed us that we might not die.
We all came under a curse following the fall in the Garden when just as Jonathan, oblivious to his father’s command ate of the honey, Eve and then Adam, disobeyed the command of God our heavenly Father and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Although Saul’s oath was rash and self-serving whilst God’s was righteous and just, just as Jonathan was sentenced to death, so too were we all as we became subject to the law of sin and death.
Yet although the Bible does not inform us in 1 Samuel 14 by what means the people rescued Jonathan, it is very clear throughout how God rescues, redeems and ransoms people. It is through the shed blood of the atoning sacrifice of His own only begotten Son that we are rescued. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
This is the truth of the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, Jew and Gentile alike. The simple message of the cross, foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. The gospel of Christ is sweet and satisfying to those who hunger. To those who are oppressed and captive to sin, it is liberty. To those who are cumbered with a heavy load, it is lightness. When we repent, turn away from our sin and turn back to God, when we accept His gift of salvation and acknowledge the incredible ransom paid to rescue us from our sin, when we do these things, we taste and see that the Lord is good, we taste the sweet, sweet honey which is Jesus Christ.
Jonathan tasted the honey and his countenance changed. Jesus Christ will do the same for you… go ahead and try, go ahead and ask Him.