In the fourteenth chapter of First Samuel, the Israelites were arrayed in battle camps, under the leadership of King Saul, against the Philistines. Jonathan, being a Navy Seal kind of guy, decided to make his own reconnaissance mission of the Philistine garrison, so he slipped off on a special op without telling Dad, taking just his armor bearer. Jonathan had a lot of faith in God. He apparantly hoped to take out a few men early, with God's deliverance. He must have been straining at the bit, hating the sit-around-and-wait life of a battle camp. He wanted to see some action.
As he was easing among the ranks of the Philistines, he told his armor bearer his plan. They would reveal their presence to the enemy. If the enemy demanded they halt in their steps, and announced they were coming across the line, then they wouldn't mess with them. But, if the enemy called for them to proceed to their position, then they would know that God had given them into their hands. This was the plan and it worked. They revealed themselves. The enemy called out bravely (and foolishly) for them to come on over and they would show them a thing or two. 1 Samuel 14:12
Meanwhile, Saul noticed the sound of battle coming from the Philistine camp. He noticed that Jonathan was gone. Saul realized his son had "jumped the gun" and feared he may need reinforcements, or perhaps he was just afraid Jonathan wouldn't leave any fighting for the rest of the men. But, Saul had already declared a force fast on the whole camp, hoping to force God's hand for a victory. Sometimes we think we have to barter with God, when He is just waiting for us to ask for his help. The men were famished and weary by the time they had finished the Philistine garrison in the unexpected battle. Trudging back to camp, half starved and battle fatigued, they passed through some low hanging vines where honey literally dripped down to the ground. Jonathan dipped his rod into the honey for just a little taste. Immediately he was filled to his eyelids, so to speak. But, his buddies warned him to stop, and told him about his father's death orders on any man who ate before sundown. I can picture Jonathan as he wiped the honey quickly from his lips, and got out of the honey before his dad saw what he had done.
By the time the sun went down, the men were ravaged with hunger, and faint, and began to kill the spoil from the battle, eating the meat raw with the blood still in it, a violation of the Jewish Law. This is not uncommon after battles. The release of a single societal prohibition often causes other restraints to come down. For example, after killing in battle, it is not uncommon for soldiers to pillage and plunder. Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go. Saul was told, so he restrained the men and built an altar to grill the meat. But, God was not happy.
After dinner, Saul decided he was not finished fighting, and planned a surprise night attack on the Philistine camp. He prayed and asked God if the victory would be his. But, God gave him the silent treatment. Saul knew God was not speaking for a reason, so he demanded to know who had sinned." I can't imagine how he forgot so soon about the raw beef. It must not have occured to him that pride is one of the biggest human failures. He swore an oath there on the spot that whoever did it would die.
The men were silent because they loved Jonathan. Jonathan was silent because he knew his dad wasn't just "whistling Dixie" with his death sentence orders. So, Saul cast lots, and discovered that it was Jonathan who had broken the vow. He demanded to know what Jonathan had done. Jonathan said that it was just a little taste of honey, before he knew about the forced fast vow. Saul had his pride, so he ordered the men to execute his own son. They disobeyed the direct order, declaring that not one hair would fall from Jonathan's head while they lived. So, Saul crawled off to his tent, deciding to choose his battles wisely. 1 Samuel 14:43-45
The thing about this story that captures my attention is that God provided honey for the weary soldiers, just like He provides refreshing in the Spirit at His altars for Christians today. But, we often fail to drink from the well of the Spirit, leaving ourselves Spiritually weak. Then when dark circumstances fall upon us, we fall prey to human weakness that could have been avoided by just a little taste of God's Spirit. Jonathan had been fighting alongside God, in the Lord's battle. "...he has worked with God this day..." 1 Samuel 14:45 Jonathan was cooperating with God, while saul was wheeling and dealing with God, trying to have His own way. Imagine that!