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Jonathan's eyes enlightened

19-01-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

image3 Second part of a summary of a Study about Jonathan’s Heroic Deed (1Samuel 14:1-30). 1Samuel 14:24-30 is a separate act, a story within a story. It’s about Jonathan who eats honey, while unaware of the curse of his father. On the day that Israel went to war against the Philistines, King Saul had the people swear an oath: “Cursed is the man who eats food (lit. bread) before the evening and before I am avenged on my enemies.” That was “a sacrifice of fools” (Pred.5:1), because it was over-hastily spoken. If only because he was unable to keep his word (1Sam.14:44,45). The vow of Saul typifies “the old covenant”. Instead of the people relying on the promise of God, they relied on the vow of a man. It compares to Israel, in the past, when too self-confident at Mt. Sinai, it declared, “all that YAHWEH has spoken we will do” (Ex.19:8). That was fatal and it brought them under the curse. Paul calls the old covenant “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation” (2Cor.3:7.9). Saul’s curse caused Israel to become exhausted and to lack the strength to adequately defeat the enemy. It speaks of the people who were suffering under the rules of the old covenant, overly much devitalizing and tiring them, etc. (14:28), because they were absorbed with their own work, instead of relying on the promises (=bread) of God. On the height, the decisive defeat was inflicted on the enemy (1Sam.14:13) which speaks of the Prince who conquered death. Meanwhile, Israel as a nation, was suffering from Saul’s curse. “The people feared the oath” (14:26). But Jonathan did not know this fear; he lived in freedom. When Saul’s fighters reached a field in the forest, they cane across plenty of honey (14:25). Honey speaks of the word of God, which is sweet (Ps.19: 10). The sweet honey in this narrative stands in contrast to the bitter curse, under which the people suffered. Even as the bitter curse speaks of the old covenant, so the honey speaks of the new covenant; of God’s promise: 7 x “I will” (Jer 31:31-33). In it, there is no condemnation, but justification. No death, but life. The people are confronted with honey (14:25,26); it is available. Yet, it is held back for them to eat of it, because of the vow, the curse under which they were placed. The people are afraid. It pictures the religious person who comes into contact with the Good News Message, but dares not to believe it, what with being instructed to fulfil religious obligations, which run squarely against feeding on the sweet word of God. Jonathan dipped his staff in the honeycomb (14:27). The staff in Scripture is an emblem of how GOD brings forth life out of death. The staff speak of resurrection! By means of the staff, was made a way through the Red Sea. It was the staff that later on brought forth blossoms and water from the rock for thirsty people. Jonathan nourishes himself (in type) with resurrection life, immersed in the sweet word of God. After Jonathan had eaten honey, “his eyes were enlightened”! We cannot miss sensing that this formulation has a deeper meaning, for does the same Psalm, that compares the Word with honey, not also say that it enlightens the eyes  (Ps.19:10,8)? The Word of God is living and operative (Heb.4:12) and is enlightening the eyes (cp Eph.1:18). The Word is sweet, but it also provides insight and perspective. To keep standing in the spiritual battle, it is important to keep eating ‘the honey’. The bystanders of Jonathan noticed immediately that he had eaten the honey, because his eyes were radiating it. That’s what the Good News Message does – it makes happy!