What a difference between Saul and Jonathon (I Samuel 13 and 14)
While Saul is fretting in the Israelite camp about all the fighting men he’s losing (13:11), Jonathan crosses over to the Philistine garrison with “perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord Himself from saving whether by many or by few.” (14:6)
While Saul is fretting in the Israelite camp about all the Philistines gathering against him and how they might come after him (13:11), Jonathon comes up with a plan for God to give them a sign and boldly carries out that plan, allowing himself to be seen by the enemy (14:8-10)
Saul’s watchmen report panicking Philistines scattering in every direction and Saul orders roll call of 600 men to see who’s missing instead of ordering the troops to pursue and overtake. Saul doesn’t even realize his son is missing, which tells us Jonathon was accustomed to spending more time with the men than his father’s court. Saul doesn’t even call for his son before he orders roll call. Than Saul calls for the ark which is still in the care of the cursed family of Eli. The Philistine panic increases which finally inspires Saul to action. Meanwhile, Jonathon is busy slaying and scattering the enemy (14:16-19)
Saul doesn’t fight for God, he fights for himself and his pride, and curses the fighting man who eats. It’s as if deep down he knows he deserves to be defeated and so sets himself up for failure. Jonathon is busy fighting for the Lord and will give Him the glory (14:24)
Jonathon speaks out about his father’s unwise order. The Philistine slaughter would have been greater had the fighting men been allowed to eat (14:29) Indeed, the men were so famished, they sinned by eating the meat with the blood still in it (14:38) Saul blames the troops instead of his order that his own son kindly admitted was unwise.
Now Saul is finally ready to attack. Apparently, his building an altar to the Lord has endowed him with God’s favor (he thinks). The priest reminds Saul to consult God, but God doesn’t answer (so much for the altar) (14:35-37)
God did punish Saul severely, but not for Jonathon’s deed. Saul is still impatient. He didn’t wait for Samuel at Gilgal, he wants to fight at night. He wants Jonathon dead now for upstaging him, while Jonathan remains loyal to his father and a humble soldier of the Lord (14:44)