I Samuel 14:24-46 Conflicting Oaths.
When leaders make decisions there are consequences for everybody. Saul was so consumed with taking vengeance on his enemies that he would not even allow his men to take the time to eat and rest. “So none of the people tasted food” (v. 24). However, Jonathan had not heard Saul’s oath, so when the people were in the forest where there was honey he took some and “his countenance brightened” (v. 27), but the people who did not eat anything became faint (v. 28). Jonathan laments his father’s issuing of such an oath, because if the people had eaten their victory would have been greater (vv. 29-30).
Then, upon their victories from Michmash to Ajalon they did eat, but now they were so famished that they ate the meat with the blood, contrary to the law word of the covenant (vv. 31-33a Cf. Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17; 7:26-27; 17:10-12; 19:26; Dt. 15:23), something Ezekiel would also refer back to (33:25). When Saul heard about what the people did he then decided to do what should have been done in the first place, to make a sacrifice unto the LORD and have the people eat and restore themselves consistent with the law word of the covenant LORD (vv. 33b-34). This was the first altar which Saul built to the LORD (v. 35).
Saul then wanted to return to battle, and the people agreed to follow, but the priest said that they should first inquire of the LORD (v. 36). “So Saul asked counsel of God, ‘Shall I do down after the Philistines? Will you deliver them into the hand of Israel?’ But He did not answer him that day.” (v. 37). Saul, thinking that Jonathan’s sin was greater than his own, and thinking that he had made atonement for the people, asked that lots be cast, but Jonathan was selected, and the people fled. Saul thought that Jonathan was selected because of his transgressing of his oath, but the people were loyal to Jonathan.
The people knew that it was through Jonathan that they were victorious. Saul wanted his son to die, but the people rescued him (vv. 38-45a). Saul considered any violation of his rash and foolish oath as greater than the LORD’s approbation of the faith of his son Jonathan, but the people bore witness before the God, that Jonathan was the one favoured of the LORD (vv. 45b). Saul then ceased from his battle with the Philistines, and they returned to their own territory (v. 46). With his oath Saul broke the oath of the covenant with the LORD, and in so doing he also caused the people to transgress the law word of the covenant.