Saul woke everyone up at the crack of dawn. “Everyone up! We have some to Philistines to get rid of!”
All the soldiers groaned and pulled themselves out of their sleeping bags. Their stomachs were still empty and sleep had been the only thing that stopped them from thinking about it. Now that they were up, the entire camp was filled with the growls of hunger. But no one complained because no one wanted to make Saul angry.
All day they chased the Philistines. They found them in caves and bushes and trees and swamps, and Saul made them get every single one. At last, they killed the final ones that evening. They had been keeping all the supplies for the rest of the army at a small farmyard, but now that they wouldn’t need it anymore, the Israelites took it. There were enough sheep, goats, cattle and calves to feed an army, which was good, because a hungry army had been starving all day and was ready to EAT. They were so hungry that they killed the animals and starting eating them right there.
Saul stood over a fire, cooking his meat and watching his army enjoy a feast.
“Uh…Saul? Shouldn’t we…you know…drain the blood first?”
“Mmph?” Saul said, a huge chunk of steak hanging out of his mouth
“You know, drain the blood. Like what Moses commanded?”
Saul spit out the meat immediately. “Right! Drain the blood!” He looked down at the chunk on the ground, heard his stomach grooooawwwwwwl, and felt a little sad for a second. Then he shouted to his army,
“STOP! Don’t sin against God and eat meat with blood in it! Bring the animals over here to be butchered first!”
So the soldiers did what they were told. Then Saul built an altar to the Lord for sacrifices.
After everyone had filled themselves on food, they began to set up camp. Saul, his highest generals, and the priest were relaxing by the fire while their tents were being set up.
“Hey,” said Saul, “I head there’s some more Philistines to the south. Lets surprise them during the night and destroy and plunder the rest of them tonight!”
His generals glanced over at each other. “Is he serious?” They thought. But instead, they said, “Whatever you think is best.”
“Hey, I think we should ask God first this time,” said the priest.
So Saul asked God. “Shall we defeat the Philistines tonight? Will you help us kill them all?”
Saul asked again. “My Lord, should we plunder and destroy the Philistines as soon as we are ready to? Will you help us?”
Then Saul became worried. “God’s not answering me! Something’s wrong!” He looked at his generals. “Go and figure out what was done. I want to know who sinned, what they did, why, and how. Every detail. I swear that whoever did this will die, even if it were my own son!”
The generals glanced over at each other and thought, “Is he serious?”, but they said nothing and simply followed orders. Everyone was woken up, but no one claimed they did anything wrong. The generals took this information back to Saul.
Saul had an idea to find out the culprit. “Jonathan and I will stand on this side, the rest of you on that side.” No one objected. Then Saul prayed, “God, show us who is guilty and who is innocent!”
The priest took 2 stones and scratched one side of each. He gave one to a general on the soldier’s side and he took the other. “Whoever’s stone shows the scratch, that side is guilty and the other is innocent”
He threw them in the air and when they landed on the ground, it was Saul’s stone that showed the scratch. It was either Saul or Jonathan. Then the priest cast the stones again to decide between them. Saul clenched his fists in anticipation. Jonathan swallowed hard.
The stones flew up in the air. Both men watched them fall to the ground. Then they hit with a soft thud.
Jonathan was guilty.
Saul glared at his son and crossed his arms. “Boy, what did you do?”
“I…I tasted a little honey when I was off fighting Philistines. But it was only a little! And I never heard your vow before? Does that deserve death” Jonathan was shaking, and he wiped sweat from his forehead.
Saul glared even angrier. “Yes.” He began to reach for his sword at his side. “May God strike me down if I don’t obey my own vows!”
Then his best generals burst out of the crowd. “Saul! Don’t do this!” They pleaded. Two of them stood in front of their angry king, while another reasoned with him. “Jonathan is the reason we did so well against the Philistines! Would you kill the hero of Israel?”
Saul paused. He opened his mouth to reply, “Y-“
“No, of course you wouldn’t!” His general continued. “As sure as the Lord lives, not one hair on his head will be touched! He is a hero! An instrument of God’s power! Three cheers for Jonathan!”
The crowd of soldiers surrounded Jonathan and carried him away, cheering him and God’s power. Saul was left all alone, in silence, sword in hand, glaring at the departing crowd.
He looked around at the abandoned camp and clenched his jaw. “Fine,” he said and sighed. “But I’m going home,” and he crawled back into his tent and fell asleep.
Back at home, a letter waited on Saul’s desk of a new threat against Israel and God’s final test of its king.