1 Samuel 13:4 MEANING

1 Samuel 13:4
(4) And all Israel heard.--Saul is put for "Jonathan," though the bold deed had been performed by the young prince, Saul being the general-in-chief. The expression "smitten" implies that the garrison in question had been utterly routed, probably put to the sword. The intense hatred with which the Philistines hated the Hebrews is often brought forward. From the first conquest by Joshua they regarded them as interlopers and intruders; between the two peoples there was ceaseless warfare, until the Philistines were completely subdued by the greater Hebrew kings. Naturally, such a deed as that of Jonathan's would at once arouse Philistia.

And the people were called together.--Gradually round the King of Israel the fighting men of the nation in great numbers were gathered. This seems to have been by no means a "levee en masse" of all the people; they seem to have come together very slowly, and very quickly again to have dispersed. The hour for a decisive blow was not yet come. Something, as we shall soon see, prevented Saul, with all his gallantry and splendid military skill, from winning popular confidence. (On Gilgal, the place where Saul was trying to assemble the people at this juncture, see Note on 1 Samuel 13:8 and Excursus E at the end of this Book.)

Verse 4. - That Saul had smitten. Though the achievement was actually Jonathan's, yet it belonged to Saul as the commander-in-chief, and probably had been done under his instructions. Israel was had in abomination with the Philistines. They must have viewed with grave displeasure Israel's gathering together to choose a king, and Saul's subsequent defeat of the Ammonites, and retention with him of a large body of men, and so probably they had been for some time making preparations for war. Saul, therefore, knowing that they were collecting their forces, does the same, and the people were called together after Saul. Literally, "were cried after him," i.e. were summoned by proclamation (comp. Judges 7:23, 24; Judges 10:17, where see margin). For Gilgal see 1 Samuel 7:16; 1 Samuel 11:14. This place had been selected because, as the valley opens there into the plain of Jordan it was a fit spot for the assembling of a large host. For its identification see Conder, 'Tent Work,' 2:7-12.

13:1-7 Saul reigned one year, and nothing particular happened; but in his second year the events recorded in this chapter took place. For above a year he gave the Philistine time to prepare for war, and to weaken and to disarm the Israelites. When men are lifted up in self-sufficiency, they are often led into folly. The chief advantages of the enemies of the church are derived from the misconduct of its professed friends. When Saul at length sounded an alarm, the people, dissatisfied with his management, or terrified by the power of the enemy, did not come to him, or speedily deserted him.And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines,.... For though it was smitten by Jonathan, yet it was by the order of Saul, and so ascribed to him; it seems to be a concerted thing to fall upon the garrisons of the Philistines, and get them out of their hands, and so deliver Israel entirely from them; but it was not wise for Saul, if he had such a scheme in his head, to disband his large army, as he had lately done:

and that Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines; who were highly incensed against them by this action, and vowed revenge; the name of an Israelite was abhorred by them; and perhaps this action might be attended with much craft and cruelty; and if these garrisons were held by agreement, they might charge them with perfidy, with breach of articles, and so their name was made to stink among them, as the word signifies:

and the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal; by sound of trumpet.

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