War With the Philistines (1 Samuel 13) October 26
Saul creates a small standing army. The thousand under his son Jonathan's leadership (a bold and courageous fellow, as we will see further in the next chapter) attacks a garrison of the occupying Philistine forces. This incites the Philistines to gather against Israel to put down the rebellion, and Saul assembles his worried forces at Gilgal, while others in the threatened region hide themselves in the caves and thickets. As Samuel had instructed (10:8), Saul waits seven days for Samuel to arrive to make the offerings. But Samuel does not arrive right on time. Perhaps his slight delay was a test for Saul. Whatever the case, Saul becomes impatient and, just before Samuel arrives, he presumptuously makes the offering himself. This sin of not following God's explicit instructions is enough to lose the kingdom for Saul's descendants (verse 14). But greater offenses follow.
It is interesting to consider that verse 13 says Saul's dynasty would have continued forever if he had followed God's commandswhen God had earlier prophesied that the kingly line to the Messiah would come from Judah and not from Benjamin (Genesis 49:10; see 1 Chronicles 5:1-2). Yet, this would actually have been a rather simple matter. Probably, God would have had Saul's lineage merge with the Judahite lineage through intermarriage. Indeed, Saul's daughter will later marry David. But there will be no children from their marriage.
An insight into the dominance of the Philistines over the Israelites at this time is shown by the fact that no smiths were allowed to work in the land. As a result, only Saul and his son Jonathan had swords.