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Fast gone wrong?
Bible Passage 1 Samuel 14: 24- 30
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & book 1 Samuel.

Fast gone wrong?

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached September 4, 2023

24 The men of Israel were hard pressed on that day, and Saul required the army to take an oath: “Cursed is the person who eats food before evening and before I’ve been avenged of my enemies.” So no one tasted food.

25 Later on, all the soldiers entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground.

26 The people came into the woods and there was flowing honey, but no one put his hand to his mouth to eat it because the people were afraid due to the oath.

27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had required the army to swear an oath, so he stretched out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it in the honeycomb. He brought it back to his mouth and his eyes brightened.

28 Then one of the people responded: “Your father strictly ordered the army to take an oath. That’s why he said, ‘Cursed is the person who eats food today,’ and so the army is exhausted.”

29 Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey.

30 How much better if the army had eaten freely today of their enemy’s spoil that they found, because the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

King Saul waged war against the Philistines who had so much brag and power for a long time when he heard that the was confusion in the Philistine camp. Saul was so eager to seize the opportunity to attack the enemy that he did not wait to receive God’s directions through the priest. Israelites who had earlier deserted to the Philistines or hidden themselves in fear suddenly returned to Saul’s side and joined in the battle.

Saul put a curse on any of the Israelite soldiers who stopped to eat that day, as he wanted to carry the battle on unbroken till the Philistines were destroyed. It was a stupid curse, for tiredness and hunger prevented the Israelites from being entirely successful (verses 24-30).

Meanwhile, the decision to attack the Philistines was taken by Jonathan, one of Saul’s sons first. It was the action of Jonathan that caused the confusion in the camp of the Philistines even before Saul heard that there was something going on. Jonathan decided to attack the Philistines. We do not know why Jonathan did not inform the father of his plan to attack the father. The Philistine army was large with horses and chariots. But the Israelite army was small.

Jonathan earlier attacked the soldiers of the Philistines and they scattered before Saul heard it. Jonathan trusted God so much. Saul was going to consult God but when he heard of the confusion, he didn’t wait any longer.
Jonathan, Saul, and the army fought the Philistines. But they won because the Lord rescued them (1 Sam. 14: 23).

The battle continued but King Saul had hurriedly issued a fasting command. When an army fights a battle, the soldiers need a lot of energy. The men must be strong, not weak. Saul made the soldiers take an oath that no one would eat before evening. The result was that the men of Israel were tired, hungry, and weak. They were so afraid of Saul’s promise that they would not even eat honey.

Jonathan did not know about Saul’s promise. He ate the honey and felt much more vital.

Whatever Saul’s reasons and fears were, his decision was unwise. To forbid the soldiers to feast would have been commendable, but to ban them so much as to taste, though ever so hungry, was barbarous.

Many good children have been thus entangled and distressed, in more ways than one, by the rashness of an inconsiderate parent. Jonathan, for his part, lost the crown he was heir to by his father’s folly.

🔷 Fasting is a spiritual exercise that every believer must practice sacrificially, but not without the use of one’s head

🔷 Daily work must go with daily bread which our God graciously provides

🔷 Parents must be careful of the decisions they make so their children will not suffer from it

💥 Pray that God will guide your decisions
💥 Ask God to bless your generations

Fasting is a requirement, but the timing and the rules must equally be in line with God’s wish for His people. We must not be rash to take that decision and attach an oath just to be able to do it. We can and should painfully fast, and with faith, but not in a way that will affect our our health and life.

In series Bright Morning Reflections