“But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the people with the oath; therefore he stretched out the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his countenance brightened.” 1 Samuel 14:27
By the time Saul and the six hundred men with him even knew what was going on God had already won the battle for Israel. Through the faith, obedience and courage of Jonathan and his armor bearer, and by the might of his own hand, God had defeated the Philistine army that had gathered against his people, deep in Israelite territory.
But Saul was not satisfied that his enemy should be vanquished that day and that he should not get a share in the credit. So when he gave the command for his men to join in the pursuit of the routed Philistines he added to that order the injunction, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.”
Saul was concerned only for his own fame and honor as indicated by the phrase, “before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” God’s honor and the honor of his people were not the motivation. Personal pride, selfish pride, was Saul’s only motivation.
Death was the punishment for violating the order to fast until the fighting was finished. But Jonathan was not present to hear the edict and when the chance came for him to eat a little honey in the forest he, being faint with hunger, reached into the hive with his staff and ate some.
Later that day Saul learned that Jonathan had eaten and was determined to have his son executed for, in ignorance, disobeying the royal command but the people protested and prevented Saul for killing the heroic young man.
Once again Saul’s actions were driven by selfish pride. He was king. His word was law and Jonathan had violated that law. The only way Saul could excuse Jonathan was to admit the rash foolishness of his own edict and he would rather see the hero of the day, his own son, executed on the alter of his pride than admit anything that reduced his own honor.
Friends, there is nothing more dangerous to us and all the relationships we have than selfish pride. Pride will drive us to say and do things that will undermine our connection with those we care most about. Pride will, if nurtured, cause us to be willing to sacrifice family and friends all so we can hold onto something that won’t even matter in a few hours or days.
Is it any wonder that God hates pride so much. Jesus, himself, declared that pride was the most dangerous of all sins. God also says that he’s drawn to people that are of a humble and contrite heart.
O God, give me a heart you’re drawn to. Teach me to let go of pride and hold onto the graces of humility and contrition. Prevent me from rash words spoken from pride and make me thoughtful of you and others.