One reading of the 14th chapter of 1 Samuel is a king in disarray.
His son goes off with his armour-bearer without anyone noticing and duly starts the routing of the enemy. Meanwhile Saul afflicts his already beleaguered troops with a charge that they are not to eat anything until he gets revenge on the enemy.
To put the cat among the pigeons, Jonathan’s raid raises such a tumult that it even disrupts Saul’s priestly consultation. No need to check if this is of God when it’s obviously of God.
Jonathan breaks the King’s edict by eating some honey and pointing out how much better it would be if the men were allowed to eat and be refreshed for the experience. In so doing implicitly undermining the rule of his father.
After the victory there’s the desperately sad scenes of soldiers diving into the plunder even to the point of butchering and eating meat with the blood in it. Soldiers going wild with the plunder, a scene of distress to some in the army aware of God’s standards in this regard.
As Saul looks to rally his troops for the next battle and seeks divine consultation, he finds no response and twigs that something must be wrong. Such is his desire to resolve the matter, he even says that whoever broke his edict would die. So when the indicators point to his son, he’s ready to carry out his plan, but his own men step in to rescue the man who had done more to bring victory than the king.
A king twice undermined, with men wildly eating and slow on the uptake of where God is doing His work. All in the light of having disobeyed God. All in disarray. Yet towards the end of the chapter the army move on and Saul continues his work of battle. Gathering mighty men as he goes along, Saul carries on with the fighting. Though the worst was yet to come.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden