“The Honey Tree”

1 Samuel 14

Saul was the first king of Israel but not only was he flawed by his insecurities especially with respect to David but was also crippled by a need to impress people.  Saul often made poor decisions when under pressure.  In chapter 14 Saul is sitting under a pomegranate tree with his six hundred soldiers.  His son, Jonathan, close friend of David, leaves the group with his armor bearer and decides to challenge the Philistines single-handed.  He tells his bearer that the sign of God’s favor would be if the soldiers invite them to engage in battle.  He reasons, “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few (v.6).”  Some of David’s friendship and confidence had rubbed off on him, I think!

      Saul seeing the Philistines fleeing makes his men swear to not eat anything until the enemy is defeated.   Jonathan joins the army that is exhausted and learns of his father’s oath.  The forest is full of honey in trees.  He realizes his father has made a very unwise demand of his men.  At the end of the day, Saul finally decides to consult God about continuing the battle the next day but God is silent.  Saul realizes something is wrong and swears to kill the offender.  The offender is Jonathan, his son, heir apparent, who has unwittingly eaten honey.  The men defend Jonathan.  A legend of victory turns into a mix-up of oaths not followed and a decision to go home.

     The presence of mighty trees, of God’s leading, and of group consensus does not a victory make.  We can in our rash haste to please God and people, err.  Saul withdraws from chasing the Philistines.  What might have happened had Saul consulted God first rather than last, we will never know.  Swahili has a saying we were taught when we first went to language school.  “Haraka, haraka, hakuna Baraka” Hurry, hurry has no blessing.  We might say, “Haste makes waste.”  Waiting on God’s timing is not easy, especially in our instant this or that culture. 

         Perhaps there is an answer to prayer that you have been praying for a long time.  Believing that God can lead whether by few or by many allows us to seek God’s ways and God’s timing.  We need strength for his battles.  Blessings as you wait on the Lord.

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