Not Far

Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, "Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!" So none of the troops tasted food.

The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out, yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened. Then one of the soldiers told him, "Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, 'Cursed be any man who eats food today!' That is why the men are faint."

Jonathan said, "My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?"
1 Samuel 14:24-30

The Old Testament has some very interesting examples of oaths and promises. This oath was that any man would be accursed if he ate before Saul avenged his enemies. Jonathan is oblivious to the oath until one of the soldiers tells him about it. So what's Jonathan's response? In essense he says, "My father doesn't know what he's talking about. We're in battle. We need our strength. Eat up while you can, Boys!"

So now the troops must have been conflicted. On the one hand, the Saul the Father told them to do one thing - and it was under an oath. On the other, the Jonathan the Son, who happens to be the immediate commander, remanded the oath and pursuades the men that eating would give them strength. Who do the men immediately under Jonathan's authority obey. Disobedience to either is a "life or death" issue for them.

Pray for the military in your country. They have difficult and thankless jobs. Many are required to live and operate in war zones and must obey orders in the heat of battle. Obeying orders in peacetime is not always easy; war multipies those difficulties. Pray that many will seek and find God, for He is not far from each of us.

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