Saul the substitute prophet – or a King-sized mistake addendum

Yesterday I had the great privilege of preaching on 1 Samuel 14 at the church where I serve. Time didn’t permit the sharing of one insight from Peter Leithart which I found particularly striking, so I thought I would share some of my notes which didn’t get preached here:

In verse 43, where Saul barks at Jonathan “Tell me what you have done?” I think there is a deliberate echo of 13:11 where Samuel the prophet challenges Saul with the same words. Here in our chapter, “Saul was acting like a prophet challenging Jonathan who had broken his word. [This is another sign that] Saul was no longer submitting himself to the word of the prophet but trying to replace the prophet.” (Leithart, A Son to me, 92) And of course, the ironic answer to the question, ‘what have you done’ is ‘saved the people with the help of Yahweh!’

In fact, the book is loaded with irony. You could argue that one theme of the book is ‘waiting for the righteous son.’ On this basis, there is another deep irony in Jonathan’s situation. Eli’s children, Samuel’s children – even to a greater or lesser extent David’s children – were all (or would be) a disappointment. Jonathan is the only ‘good son’ in the book – but he is prevented from being king by his father’s actions.

You will be able to listen to or watch the sermon here shortly.

I would also recommend Peter Leithart’s book as a stimulating read. I wouldn’t go with him on every point but he makes some illuminating observations about the text.

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