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1 Samuel 14:

37Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will You give them into the hand of Israel?” But He did not answer him on that day. 38Saul said, “Draw near here, all you chiefs of the people, and investigate and see how this sin has happened today. 39“For as the LORD lives, who delivers Israel, though it is in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But not one of all the people answered him. 40Then he said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.” And the people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41Therefore, Saul said to the LORD, the God of Israel, “Give a perfect lot.” And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. 42Saul said, “Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son.” And Jonathan was taken.

  43Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” So Jonathan told him and said, “I indeed tasted a little honey with the end of the staff that was in my hand. Here I am, I must die!” 

Is Jonathan guilty?

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Technically speaking we may observe this about the guilt or otherwise of Jonathon who had eaten honey:

  • Jonathon was legally guilty - he had definitely eaten honey and thus disobeyed the king as recorded in 1 Sam 14:26, 27 and freely admitted in V29.
  • Jonathon was not morally guilty - he disobeyed the king's edict in complete ignorance of the edict

Further, one could also argue that the king's edict was not valid because:

  • it was rash and based on the king's ego and thus narcissistic
  • it also limited the the effect of the victory over the enemies as correctly stated by Jonathon in 1 Sam 14:30 -

How much better it would have been if the troops had eaten freely today from the plunder they took from their enemies! Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been much greater?”

  • It made the men overly hungry and precipitated them to eat blood, against the rules of the Torah as recorded in 1 Sam 14:31-34.

Thus, if Saul's edict was not truly valid, the Jonathon's "crime" did not exit at all, even on a strict legalistic sense.

Thus, the real sinner here was Saul himself and thus, the real reason why God did not answer (V37).

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