Saul's Reign Gets Off to a Bad Start
131Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years. 2Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul at Mikmash and in the hill country near Bethel, and one thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. He sent the rest of the people to their own tents. 3Jonathan struck the Philistine garrison that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Saul blew the ram's horn throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4All Israel heard that Saul had struck the garrison of the Philistines and that Israel had become a stench to the Philistines. The people were summoned to meet Saul at Gilgal. 5The Philistines assembled their forces to fight against Israel with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They came up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble because their army was under pressure, the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, among the rocks, in dugouts, and in cisterns. 7Some of the Hebrews had gone across the Jordan River to the territory of Gad and Gilead, but Saul remained in Gilgal, and all the people who remained with him were shaking with fear. 8He waited there seven days, the time specified by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were starting to scatter from Saul. 9So Saul said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offering.” He then presented the burnt offering.
10No sooner had he finished presenting the burnt offering than Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet him and greet him with a blessing. 11But Samuel said, “What have you done?”
Saul said, “I saw that the people were scattering from me, that you did not come within the set number of days, and that the Philistines had assembled their forces at Mikmash. 12So I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself to offer the burnt offering.”
13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly. You have not kept the command which the Lord your God gave to you. The Lord would have established your kingship over Israel forever. 14But now your kingship will not continue. The Lord has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not obeyed the command the Lord gave you.”
15Then Samuel set out and went up from Gilgal. ˻The rest of the people followed Saul to meet the army. They went up from Gilgal˼ to Gibeah of Benjamin. Saul counted the people who were present with him. There were about six hundred men. 16Saul, and his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines camped at Mikmash.
17Raiding parties set out from the camp of the Philistines in three groups. One group headed down the road toward Ophrah, toward the land of Shual. 18Another group headed down the road to Beth Horon, and the third group headed toward the position on the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim, toward the wilderness.
19At that time no blacksmith could be found throughout the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines said, “If we allow this, the Hebrews will make swords or spears for themselves.” 20So all the Israelites had to go down to the Philistines to get their plowshares, mattocks, axes, and sickles sharpened. 21The price was two-thirds of a shekel to sharpen plowshares and mattocks and one-third of a shekel for pitchforks and axes and to repair ox goads.
22The result was that when the day of battle came, no swords or spears were found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
23A garrison of the Philistines took up a position by the pass at Mikmash.