1 Samuel 14:24-52; John 7:31-36; Psalms 108:5-13; Proverbs 23:29-35
OT: “The men of Israel were worn out that day, for Saul had placed the troops under an oath: “The man who eats food before evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies is cursed.” So none of the troops tasted any food. Everyone went into the forest, and there was honey on the ground. When the troops entered the forest, they saw the flow of honey, but none of them ate any of it because they feared the oath. However, Jonathan had not heard his father make the troops swear the oath. He reached out with the end of the staff he was carrying and dipped it into the honeycomb. When he ate the honey, he had renewed energy. Then one of the troops said, “Your father made the troops solemnly swear, ‘The man who eats food today is cursed,’ and the troops are exhausted.” Jonathan replied, “My father has brought trouble to the land. Just look at how I have renewed energy because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the troops had eaten freely today from the plunder they took from their enemies! Then the slaughter of the Philistines would have been much greater.”” (1 Samuel 14:24-30 CSB)
Earlier that day, out of an act of faith in the Lord, Jonathan and his armor bearer attacked a garrison of Philistines and single-handedly put the Philistine camp into a panic. King Saul, on the other hand, watched from a distance and eventually got involved in the battle once the Philistines began fleeing. Before he joined the battle, he called for the Ark of the Covenant and placed his troops under an oath. At face value, one would think that Saul did that because of his spirituality… that he placed his trust in the Lord and that the Lord was with him. However, the truth was that Saul brought the Ark along and placed his men under an oath out of superstition. He was using the Ark as a lucky talisman and placed his men under the oath as a good luck charm. All Saul needed was to walk in faith and obedience, like his son Jonathan had done – but Saul didn’t have a genuine faith in the Lord. Had Saul’s actions been directed by the Lord, they would have been followed by the Lord’s grace; but instead they brought trouble. It is important to be able to discern the difference between superstition and genuine faith. Many people claim to be spiritual and would even consider themselves to be spiritual, but all they really are is superstitious. They do “spiritual” things (like go to church, give money to faith-based charities, etc.) to try and hedge their bets and hopefully “appease” God enough that He will be gracious. That begs the question: do we truly place our faith in God, trust Him fully, and obey Him completely; or do we simply do “spiritual” things to try and coax God’s blessing and protection? Do we fully surrender our lives to the Lord and place our faith on His salvation, or do we try to do good things to appease God and earn our way into heaven?