“Jonathan had no idea that certain rules had been put in place”
(I Samuel 14:27)
The edict had come down from the top. King Saul, Jonathan’s father, made a lot of hasty and
ill-advised decisions and this was one of them. The Israelites were battling enemies on a regular basis
and in this case Saul had no clarity regarding what he should do, so he required his men to take an oath to
refrain from eating until he could create a game plan. An underfed army cannot possibly fight with maximum
strength, but that decision was typical of Saul’s inept style of ruling.
No wonder God replaced him.
Meanwhile, his son Jonathan was elsewhere saving the day as usual, and in due time he joined
up with Saul’s men. He was, however, unaware of Saul’s latest edict. So the whole gang was tramping
through the woods when they began to discover that there was honey all over the ground. Like discovering
gold, and lots of it. Jonathan may have wondered why the men around him weren’t pursuing the honey,
but being the leader that he was, maybe he figured they were holding off until he took the first crack at it.
Maybe their hesitation was out of respect or maybe it was because they dared not show him up with his being
the king’s son and all, but out of their inaction he took his cue.
Jonathan had a staff or rod with him. Leaders often carried them. It could have been a walking stick or
maybe it was just a branch he was holding in his hand, using it like a machete to plow through the woods.
Where there’s honey there’s bees, so he followed the bee line to its source. I have no doubt that he
stretched the stick out as far away from himself as he could. He was not an idiot; the biggest gap between
him and the bees was surely the best distance. He then dipped the end of the stick into the honeycomb,
probably twirling it around a bit and then withdrawing it, holding it up so that he wouldn’t lose any more honey
than necessary, and then he tasted some of it with the fingers of his other hand.
There may have been a few mouths agape in disbelief. He’d not only disobeyed the king’s orders,
even though the king was his father and he'd probably get a free pass, but they would have liked to have
had some honey too. Suddenly Jonathan’s eyes brightened. In an instant he got the big picture, his eyes
were crystal clear, the light bulb came on in his head and victory would soon be theirs. Maybe Saul should
have had a taste of that honey.
Taking it up a notch to today’s world - Jonathan wasn’t aware of the man-made rules. He came into the
woods innocently with no preconceived ideas. He had no robe. He had no Crucifix. He had no rosary
beads, no prayer book, no order of worship scripted on a lovely sheet of paper handed to him when he
entered the sanctuary. And most importantly, no sermon planned weeks in advance in order to make it into
the bulletin on time so that the preacher could have full control over the service.
Why chance it to the Holy Spirit?
Too often the goods are right in front of us, there for the taking, but we get so caught up in the ritual,
the man-created standards of operation, that we dare not dip into the wealth of God’s provisions. Like
Jonathan, we would then see life from God’s perspective; enlightened and eternal. Maybe we’d even see
God. It’s time for each of us to follow the bee line. In the words of the contemporary songwriter
Michael W Smith, “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you.”