Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 13

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-23

Chapter 13

Now Saul reigned for one year over Israel; and in the second year of his reign, He chose three thousand men of Israel; and he took two thousand under his command in Michmash and a thousand were given to Jonathan under his command the son of Saul in Gibeah: and the rest of the people he sent to their own tents. And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear. And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal ( 1 Samuel 13:1-4 ).

So Jonathan was out wiping out the Philistines and Saul was around blowing the trumpet, and taking the glory and announcing that he had smitten the Philistines so that the Israelites heard that Saul had smitten the Philistines with a great slaughter.

Now the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, [They really gathered the whole army.] thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and people like the sand of the sea were in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. And when the men of Israel saw that they were there sort of trapped, (for the people were distressed) then the people started hiding in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in the mountain tops, and in the pits. And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. For Saul, was down there in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling ( 1 Samuel 13:5-7 ).

I mean this was a tremendous formidable force of the Philistines that had come against them. People were hiding. Some were actually deserting, crossing Jordan going over to the other side to Gad, to Gilead, and those that were with Saul were trembling.

And he waited for seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: [for Samuel said, I'll meet you there in Gilgal in seven days.] And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and a peace offering. And he offered the burnt offering. And it came to pass that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him that he might greet him. And Samuel said, What have you done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days that were appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore I said, The Philistines will come now upon me to Gilgal, and I have made supplication to the Lord: so I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God which he commanded thee: for now he would have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever ( 1 Samuel 13:8-13 ).

In other words, He would have made it the dynasty of Saul.

Now Samuel is straightforward. "What have you done?"

"Oh, I forced myself." and gave all of his excuses.

He said, "You have done foolishly in that you have not obeyed the commandment of the Lord."

Anytime you deliberately, willfully disobey the commandment of God, you are doing foolishly. God's ways are best. God's ways are right, and for me to presume that I can do, or improve on God's ways is sheer folly. If I think I can improve my position by disobeying God, that's sheer folly. So the prophet laid it out to him, "You have done foolishly in that you have not obeyed the commandment of the Lord. For the Lord would've established your kingdom for ever upon Israel."

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his own people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee ( 1 Samuel 13:14 ).

So here is Saul's rejection by God as the continuing king. God is now searching out a man to take his place.

And Samuel arose, and went from Gilgal to Gibeah there among the tribe of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men ( 1 Samuel 13:15 ).

Now you remember there are thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen and Philistines, like the sands of the sea. Saul has six thousand or six hundred that haven't deserted him.

And spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: and one company turned unto the way that leads to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual: And another company turned by way of Bethhoron: and another company turned to the way of the border that looks to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness. Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel ( 1 Samuel 13:17-19 ):

Thought that was interesting in searching for my heritage. So at this time, interestingly enough, the Jews had not yet developed any forging kind of processes, or iron, the development of iron implements, although the Philistines and all the people of the land around them had entered into the Iron Age. The Hebrews had not yet really developed the capacity for smelting and all, and they had not yet themselves entered into the Iron Age. In fact, when they wanted to sharpen their picks, or their hoes or their farm implements, they had to go down to the Philistines to have them sharpened because they really didn't have any blacksmiths in Israel at this particular time. By the time of Solomon they began to really develop in these skills. In fact, they were highly developed by the time of Solomon. But at this time they had not yet developed these skills. Actually the Philistines had deliberately kept them from developing these skills because they didn't want them making swords and really being able to create real fighting implements.

So all the Israelites had to go down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, or coulter, or the axe, or the mattock. And yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: only Saul and Jonathan had spears ( 1 Samuel 13:20-22 ).

Now that's not a very well-equipped army against the thirty thousand chariots and the horsemen. "Guys all you've got are sticks; fashion a club or something." But you're going out against guys with shields, and spears and swords and all, and so you've got a small army and surely you are mismatched in equipment and all, hopelessly mismatched. There's absolutely no way that you can go out against this highly developed army with their superior weapons and superior numbers and hope to have any kind of victory. You've got six hundred men with clubs and sticks, and you're facing an army that can't even be counted with spears, swords, shields.

Which introduces chapter fourteen, which is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.