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speaks volumes.

1 Samuel 13:15–14:3

Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people present with him, about six hundred men.

Saul, Jonathan his son, and the people present with them remained in Gibeah of Benjamin. But the Philistines encamped in Michmash. Then raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned onto the road to Ophrah, to the land of Shual, another company turned to the road to Beth Horon, and another company turned to the road of the border that overlooks the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.

And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 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. 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. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

The Philistines had a technological advantage over the Israelites; they knew how to work iron. The significance of this cannot be overstated. In the Stone Age, man had no metals, and the only sharp tools were chipped rocks, like Indian arrowheads. In Bronze Age tools, we see copper and bronze axe heads. That’s better, but those metals are too soft to stay sharp. Iron Age tools are better still because they stay sharp longer. You can cut down multiple trees with the same axe without resharpening it.

The Philistines were living in the Iron Age, while the Israelites were stuck in the Bronze Age. However, the Philistines were selling a limited range of iron tools to the Israelites, and (for a fee) sharpening them. For obvious reasons, they avoided selling them weapons, though Saul and Jonathon had some. Since weapons get captured in battle, and the Philistines had lost some battles, this isn’t surprising.

If Jonathan and his armor-bearer can conceal the nature of their weapons when they go over to the Philistines’ garrison at Michmash, they won’t be seen as a threat. After all, they’re only two guys.

Jonathan keeping this secret from Saul reflects a great gap in their faith. He distrusts his father with the information.

That speaks volumes.

Monday–Friday's DEEPs are written by Mike Slay, Saturday's by Matt Richardson. To subscribe click here:
The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions can be downloaded here:
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 
ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. (All used by permission. All rights reserved.)

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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