1 Samuel 14:24 MEANING

1 Samuel 14:24
(24) And the men of Israel were distressed that day.--The LXX., between the 23rd and 24th verses, has a somewhat long addition: "And the whole people was with Saul, about ten thousand men; and the battle spread in the whole city, in the mountains of Ephraim; and Saul committed a great error." The number 10,000 is not an improbable one, as the original small force which had kept with Saul and Jonathan had been joined by the Hebrew auxiliaries in the Philistine camp, and also by many of the fugitives from the villages around. They were, we read, "distressed," that is, were wearied out by the long pursuit on the Ephraim hills.

For Saul had adjured the people.--Better, And Saul, &c.; that is, the king was so intent upon his vengeance--so bent upon pursuing to the uttermost these Philistines who so long had defied his power, and who had brought him so low--that he grudged his soldiers the necessary rest and refreshment, and, with a terrible vow, devoted to death any one who should on that day of blood slack his hand for a moment, even to take food.

Verse 24. - The men of Israel were distressed that day. The word is that used in 1 Samuel 13:6 of the state of terror and alarm to which the Israelites were reduced by the Philistine invasion; here it refers to their weariness and faintness for want of food. For Saul had adjured the people. Hebrew, "had made the people swear." He had recited before them the words of the curse, and made them shout their consent. His object was to prevent any delay in the pursuit; but in his eagerness he forgot that the strength of his men would fail if their bodily wants were not supplied. But though worn out and fainting, the people faithfully keep the oath put to them.

14:24-35 Saul's severe order was very unwise; if it gained time, it lost strength for the pursuit. Such is the nature of our bodies, that daily work cannot be done without daily bread, which therefore our Father in heaven graciously gives. Saul was turning aside from God, and now he begins to build altars, being then most zealous, as many are, for the form of godliness when he was denying the power of it.And the men of Israel were distressed that day,.... By reason of the following order Saul gave with an oath, forbidding any to taste meat till evening, when the people were faint and weary, which is the common sense of interpreters; but Jarchi interprets it, the men of Israel were ready, forward, and hasty, and drew nigh to fight with the Philistines, and so refers it to the persons before mentioned, who came out of their lurking places; and this sense is approved of by Abarbinel: "for", or "and Saul had adjured", or "did adjure the people"; or willed them, signified to them his will and pleasure, which would not have been so much amiss, had he not annexed a curse to it, as follows:

saying, cursed be the man that eateth any food until the evening: or "bread", which comprehends all food, and among the rest honey; the design of which was, that no time might be lost, and that he might make the victory over the Philistines, and their destruction, as complete as possible; though it may seem a little too hard and severe upon the people, and too imperious in him, as well as imprudent; since a little refreshment would have animated and enabled them to have pursued their enemies with more ardour and rigour; and yet by the lot afterwards made, it seems to have been countenanced by the Lord:

that I may be avenged on mine enemies; who long tyrannised over the people of Israel, more or less for many years, and lately had sadly spoiled and plundered them:

so none of the people tasted any food; so observant were they of, and so obedient to the order of their king, and so much awed by the oath or imprecation annexed to it; though they were faint and hungry, and had an opportunity of refreshing themselves as follows, which was no small temptation to disobedience.

Courtesy of Open Bible