Summary: Have you ever come to a place in your life not knowing what to do concerning a certain matter? The simultaneous conflicting feelings of making a choice on what way to turn can cause unbearable stress to the body… Should I accept or pass up this opportunit
Elder M. Edmunds
Co-Pastor of United Ordained Church
In the foregoing chapter, Saul, king of Israel, gathered three thousand trained men to fight against their pursuing enemy, the Philistines. Two thousand were under Saul’s direct control in Michmash, and one thousand men Saul assigned to his son Jonathan in Gibeah.
He strategically stationed these warriors in Michmash and Gibeah in order to avert the Philistines’ attack. In Gibeah, Saul’s son Jonathan, a man of valor, faith and loyalty, was victorious in his attack against a certain battalion of the Philistines. This attack eventually incited however a vicious war between Israel and their enemy.
The Philistines were no ordinary enemy to Israel. They were more experienced in combat than the Amalekites, Moabites, and the Midinites. The Philistines were also implacable or merciless, and they taunted and eventually dominated the Israelites for forty years until the time of David’s reign.
For they were, if you allow me to give detail in what kind of people Israel was up against, the Philistines were a sophisticated and technical culture, who was firmly entrenched on the lower Mediterranean coast of Canaan, from Joppa to south of Gaza they occupied five cities; Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon (all meaning stronghold), Gath (winepress), and Ekron(eradication). The Philistines had a stronghold on Israel, pressing them on every side just to eradicate or annihilate God’s people.
Are you dealing with an enemy this morning trying to destroy your hopes and dreams, trying to destroy your relationship and your future?
You are pressed on every side. Matter fact it is a miracle you made it this far. On a verge of a break down pressed financially, pressed relationally, pressed physically, and/or pressed professionally. Can I get a witness? We can relate to Israel’s predicament.
Each city from Joppa to south Gaza, there ruled an official or a warlord. Five tyrants who exercised some autonomy, but worked in concert and were subject to majority decision when faced with national crisis; they governed their political structure, as a pentapolis (‘five cities’).
The Philistines’ strength as a people was derived from their cooperation or pulling together against any who opposed them. Their pulling together made them formidable.
When the Pharisees defamed Jesus, claiming He was casting devils out by Beelzebub the prince of the devils, Jesus retorted in Matthews twelve and twenty-five, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” Then He goes on in the twenty-sixth verse and says, “And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?”
The Pharisees was declaring Jesus as an enemy to Israel as the Philistines were to their ancestors. They called Him Beelzebub the prince of the devils or ‘lord of the dwelling.’ Beelzebub was a name under which, the Philistines of Ekron worshiped Baal. Beelzebub was deemed as the storm god who controlled diseases brought by flies.
The argument here is irresistible. Jesus’ responds to their suggestion was on this wise, "No organized society can stand, whether kingdom, city, or household when turned against itself; such internal war is suicidal. That is why the Philistines dominated your forefathers for forty years. As a pentapolis, they stood together. But the works I do are destructive of Satan’s kingdom: That I should be in league with Satan, therefore, is incredible and absurd."
The Philistines were an organized society in Saul’s day. Their creativity in pottery, armaments, and architectural features were superior. A major Philistine achievement was the use of iron, an innovation well in advance of its use in Israel. The Philistines deliberately and shrewdly kept Israel from metallurgy (the science of separating metals and preparing them in use) for fear that they would make swords and spears to use against them.
Now when the Philistines heard that Israel conquered a garrison of their solder’s in Gibeah as stated, they were incensed and somewhat confused. How could these Israelites, these unsophisticated people, overtake a part of our defense? We are greater than they, how did this happen. Inform the lords of the cities.
Therefore, the lords of Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron gathered three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and an innumerable amount of footmen from their five cities against Israel, and pushed the Israelite troops eastward all the way to Gilgal according to First Samuel the thirteenth chapter, verses three through seven.
At Gilgal, Saul and his frightened men waited for Samuel the prophet and priest to arrive to give sacrifice for the Lords intervention as commanded by Samuel two years prior, that they may strategically destroy their nemesis.
But on the seventh day, the day Samuel was to arrive but didn’t, Saul waited no longer. His men, in fear of the Philistines approaching attack, were deserting him. Therefore, Saul unlawfully took on himself the priestly task of offering community sacrifice.