“Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah[e] in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Mikmash. 17 Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual, 18 another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboyim facing the wilderness. 19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles[f] sharpened. 21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel[g] for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel[h] for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads. 22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.” 1 Samuel 13.16-22
Am I missing something? Did Israel not have any blacksmiths of their own to sharpen and create weapons of war? They had to go down to the Philistines, their mortal enemies, to get weapons. This makes no sense whatsoever. We just saw where most of Saul’s men left him because he made his own offering, and now this?
It’s really beyond comprehension that a king of any nation would not have the sense to have within his own borders what was necessary for the country’s success. (Not to be political but it reminds me of our huge dependence upon China and the rest of the world for energy, manufacturing and labor.) So the day of battle came, Scripture tells us, and not a solider, except for King Saul and his son Jonathan had a sword OR a spear in his hand. That is unbelievable.
We’ve already pointed out Saul’s lack of wisdom but now we point out his unpreparedness. He was the king of Israel, a great nation whom God had blessed immeasurably. And in their moment of greatest need, the king did not have the people adequately armed for war. It’s not like war was foreign to them, this was a way of life for nations during these days. This speaks to Saul’s inability to govern his nation with wisdom, authority and common sense.
God has given us the ability to make good and sensible decisions for the wellbeing of our lives. This was one reason he gave the Israelites 613 laws in the Torah. Six hundred an thirteen is a lot but it also speaks to the effort it takes in not only surviving but thriving. Many of God’s dietary laws for the people weren’t spiritual but also for health and physical safety. Saul ignored one of the most basis rules of a king — protect your people.
Thank goodness that we are not in a constant state of war. We do not face death and destruction everyday by our enemies, at least not in most nations. But how can we live as people prepared to defend our faith, protect our families and make more stances against enemies both spiritual and political? How can we stand up against people who want to destroy our lives and our livelihood? How can we stand on biblical truths that help uphold the laws of God and the commands of Jesus?
Whereas King Saul failed his people, and would so again and again, King Jesus is faithful. He has fulfilled every command and prophesy he has ever spoken. And one day, he will return to receive his faithful up into his arms in heaven. But until that day, let’s strive to remain people who are not only prepared but also holy. By his grace and for his glory.
“O Lord God, you are good. I confess I am a sinner, saved by your mighty hand. Thank you for loving us in power and by your grace. Thank you for your constant help in times of trouble. Than you that when our world is in turmoil, you bring peace. Come Holy Spirit, cover us like a blanket. Let me know the truth of your love and that peace a relationship with you brings. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen