1[Saul was…years old when he became king and he reigned…-two years over Israel.]*
Saul Offers Sacrifice. 2Saul chose three thousand of Israel, of whom two thousand remained with him in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and one thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. He sent the rest of the army back to their tents. 3Now Jonathan struck the Philistine garrison* in Gibeah, and the Philistines got word of it. Then Saul sounded the horn throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!”a 4Then all Israel heard the report, “Saul has struck the garrison of the Philistines! Israel has become odious to the Philistines!” Then the army was called up to Saul in Gilgal. 5The Philistines also assembled for battle against Israel, with thirty thousand chariots,* six thousand horsemen, and foot soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore.b They came up and encamped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven.c 6When the soldiers saw they were in danger because the army was hardpressed, they hid themselves in caves, thickets, rocks, caverns, and cisterns. 7Other Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul, however, held out in Gilgal, all his army trembling in fear behind him.* 8He waited seven days, until the appointed time Samuel had set, but Samuel did not come, and the army deserted Saul.d 9He then said, “Bring me the burnt offering and communion offerings!” Then he sacrificed the burnt offering.
King Saul Reproved. 10As he finished sacrificing the burnt offering, there came Samuel! So Saul went out toward him in order to greet him. 11Samuel asked him, “What have you done?” Saul explained: “When I saw that the army was deserting me and you did not come on the appointed day, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12I said to myself, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not yet sought the LORD’s blessing.’ So I thought I should sacrifice the burnt offering.” 13Samuel replied to Saul: “You have acted foolishly! Had you kept the command the LORD your God gave you, the LORD would now establish your kingship in Israel forever; 14but now your kingship shall not endure. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart* to appoint as ruler over his people because you did not observe what the LORD commanded you.”e
Philistine Invasion. 15Then Samuel set out from Gilgal and went his own way; but what was left of the army went up after Saul to meet the soldiers, going from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul then counted the soldiers he had with him, about six hundred.f 16Saul, his son Jonathan, and the soldiers they had with them were now occupying Geba of Benjamin, and the Philistines were encamped at Michmash. 17Meanwhile, raiders left the camp of the Philistines in three bands.g One band took the Ophrah road toward the district of Shual; 18another turned in the direction of Beth-horon; and the third took the road for Geba that overlooks the Valley of the Hyenas toward the desert.
Disarmament of Israel.* 19Not a single smith was to be found anywhere in Israel, for the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.”h 20All Israel, therefore, had to go down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles. 21The price for the plowshares and mattocks was two thirds of a shekel, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the ox-goads. 22And so on the day of battle neither sword nor spear could be found in the hand of any of the soldiers with Saul or Jonathan. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Jonathan’s Exploit. 23An outpost of the Philistines had pushed forward to the pass of Michmash.i
* [13:1] A formula like that of 2 Sm 5:4 was introduced here at some time; but the age of Saul when he became king remains a blank, and the two years assigned for his reign in the Masoretic text cannot be correct. Acts 13:21 offers the round number of forty years.
* [13:3–4] The Philistine garrison: see note on 10:5. Let the Hebrews hear: a different reading of these verses, based on the Greek, would yield: “And the Philistines heard that the Hebrews (or: the slaves) had revolted. Saul in the meantime sounded the trumpet throughout all the land (v. 4), and all Israel heard that Saul….”
* [13:5] Thirty thousand chariots: some Greek manuscripts read “three thousand chariots.”
* [13:7–15] These verses, like 10:8, anticipate the rejection of Saul; a different occasion and motivation for this are given in chap. 15 and 28:17–18.
* [13:14] After his own heart: i.e., of his choosing, for his purpose. While the verse undoubtedly refers to David, it concerns the Lord’s decision to continue the kingship, even though he has rejected Saul, by selecting the heir to Saul’s throne.
* [13:19–22] These details emphasize the Philistines’ military power and superior technology, a reminder that an Israelite victory depends on God.
a. [13:3] 1 Sm 14:1–15; Jgs 3:27; 6:34; 2 Sm 20:1–2.
b. [13:5] Gn 22:17; 41:49; Jgs 7:12.
c. [13:5] 1 Sm 14:22.
e. [13:14] 1 Sm 15:28; 25:30; 2 Sm 7:15–16; Ps 78:70; Acts 13:22.
g. [13:17] 1 Sm 14:15.
i. [13:23] 1 Sm 14:15.