Summary: Let's take a look at 3 Old Testament characters... King Saul, Jonathan, and Jonathan's armor bearer. Let's think about their behaviors and be a little introspective... which traits do I exhibit in my own life? In my own walk with the Lord?


The title for tonight’s sermon is “To Tarry or Not To Tarry”, and is from events captured in the book of First Samuel. Before we go any further, let’s go to the Lord in prayer…

Please turn in your Bibles to the Old Testament… to the book of First Samuel… chapter 14. We’re going to look for some insights from examining the behavior of 3 main characters in the events that unfold for us in First Samuel 14. Let’s begin reading with verse 1.

[READ 1 Samuel 14:1-3, 6-23]

As we take a closer look at our 3 main characters, I want you to think about their behaviors and to be a little introspective. I want you to consider what behaviors or character traits you exhibit in your own life, in your own walk with the Lord. After all, we’re not here just to discuss theology or talk about Bible stories. My family and I did a devotional study on these passages several weeks ago. I confess to you tonight that God convicted each one of us in a mighty way as we studied and discussed these verses. I pray that you would allow the Word of God to settle on your heart, and be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to reveal to you about yourself tonight.


Let’s examine our first character, King Saul, our “Lackadaisical Leader”.

"Lackadaisical" is a word we don’t hear very often, but it means to be “without much enthusiasm, energy, or effort”. Let’s take another look at verse 2:

14:2 And Saul was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men.

Sitting. Saul was sitting under a pomegranate tree. If we look a little deeper, we can see that this wasn’t just Saul taking a quick breather in the shade with 600 of his buddies. The original Hebrew word that is used here is the word, “yashab” (yaw-shab’) which is translated as “tarried” in the King James Version. “Yashab” means to tarry…to remain…to dwell…to inhabit…to remain.

Saul tarried. He was camped out. He was waiting.

The Bible doesn’t explicitly specify his reasons for tarrying, but we do know from the text that he was essentially camped out in the shade, while the enemy was perched on his doorstep. The people of Israel and the Philistines were at war with each other. Saul was camped out close enough to the enemy that they were able to see and hear the commotion brought about by Jonathan and his armor bearer.

Look at verses 16 and 19:

16 Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there.

19 Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

Was Saul tarrying because he was waiting on God? I don’t think so.

Take a look at verse 3:

3 Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod.

Encamped with Saul was the high priest, who was wearing an ephod. The high priest’s ephod contained the Urim and Thummim, which were used to inquire of God’s will. God would speak directly to mankind through dreams, through His prophets, and through the Urim and Thummim. Saul had at his immediate disposal everything he needed to inquire of God’s will for dealing with the Philistines. He had with him the high priest and the ephod with the Urim and Thummim. Yet the scriptures don’t tell us of Saul seeking after God for divine direction. Saul was simply tarrying. His behavior in this case is very similar to what he did when facing the Philistines later in chapter 17…the famous story of David and Goliath. Saul and his army are tarrying. But worse than that, they tarried in fear.

Flip back a little to chapter 13, to the last half of verse 7:

7b …As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

Now fast forward to chapter 17, verse 11:

11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine [Goliath], they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Saul was faced with a powerful enemy and his fear immobilized him. Did he choose to seek God’s direction? Did he prepare sacrifices? Did he call the people to fast and pray? Did he choose to prepare for battle? No. He simply chose to do nothing. He chose to tarry.

What about us as believers? We too are faced with a powerful enemy. How often do we allow ourselves to become immobilized with fear and indecision? How often do we choose to do nothing and simply tarry?

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