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1 Samuel 14:20

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Assembled themselves - See marg. Many versions give the sense “shouted,” which is far preferable, and only requires a different punctuation.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The Philistines were, by the power of God, set against one another. The more evident it was that God did all, the more reason Saul had to inquire whether God would give him leave to do any thing. But he was in such haste to fight a fallen enemy, that he would not stay to end his devotions, nor hear what answer God would give him. He that believeth, will not make such haste, nor reckon any business so urgent, as not to allow time to take God with him.
Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 623-6

God had permitted matters to be thus brought to a crisis that He might rebuke the perversity of Saul and teach His people a lesson of humility and faith. Because of Saul's sin in his presumptuous offering, the Lord would not give him the honor of vanquishing the Philistines. Jonathan, the king's son, a man who feared the Lord, was chosen as the instrument to deliver Israel. Moved by a divine impulse, he proposed to his armor-bearer that they should make a secret attack upon the enemy's camp. “It may be,” he urged, “that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.” PP 623.1

The armor-bearer, who also was a man of faith and prayer, encouraged the design, and together they withdrew from the camp, secretly, lest their purpose should be opposed. With earnest prayer to the Guide of their fathers, they agreed upon a sign by which they might determine how to proceed. Then passing down into the gorge separating the two armies, they silently threaded their way, under the shadow of the cliff, and partially concealed by the mounds and ridges of the valley. Approaching the Philistine fortress, they were revealed to the view of their enemies, who said, tauntingly, “Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves,” then challenged them, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing,” meaning that they would punish the two Israelites for their daring. This challenge was the token that Jonathan and his companion had agreed to accept as evidence that the Lord would prosper their undertaking. Passing now from the sight of the Philistines, and choosing a secret and difficult path, the warriors made their way to the summit of a cliff that had been deemed inaccessible, and was not very strongly guarded. Thus they penetrated the enemy's camp and slew the sentinels, who, overcome with surprise and fear, offered no resistance. PP 623.2

Angels of heaven shielded Jonathan and his attendant, angels fought by their side, and the Philistines fell before them. The earth trembled as though a great multitude with horsemen and chariots were approaching. Jonathan recognized the tokens of divine aid, and even the Philistines knew that God was working for the deliverance of Israel. Great fear seized upon the host, both in the field and in the garrison. In the confusion, mistaking their own soldiers for enemies, the Philistines began to slay one another. PP 623.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 70-2

Because of the sin of Saul in his presumptuous offering, the Lord would not give to him the honor of commanding the armies of Israel in battle with the Philistines. The Lord would have his name alone magnified lest the armies of Israel should exalt themselves as though it were on account of their righteousness, valor or wisdom, that their enemies were overcome. He moved upon the heart of Jonathan, a righteous man, and his armor-bearer, to go over to the garrison of the Philistines. Jonathan believed that God was able to work for them, and save by many or by few. He did not rush up presumptuously. He asked counsel of God, then with a fearless heart, trusting in him alone, he moved forward. Through these two men the Lord accomplished his work of subduing the Philistines. He sent angels to protect Jonathan and his armor-bearer and shield them from the instruments of death in the hands of their enemies. 4aSG 70.1

Angels of God fought by the side of Jonathan, and the Philistines fell all around him. Great fear seized the host of the Philistines in the field and in the garrison. And the spoilers that had been divided into separate companies, and sent in different directions, ready for their work of slaughter, were terribly afraid. The earth trembled beneath them, as though a great multitude with horsemen and chariots were upon the ground prepared for battle. Jonathan and his armor-bearer, and even the Philistine host knew that the Lord was working for the deliverance of the Hebrews. The Philistines became perplexed. There appeared to them to be men of Israel among them, fighting against them; and they fought against one another, and slaughtered their own armies. 4aSG 70.2

The battle had progressed quite a length of time before Saul and his men were aware that deliverance was being wrought for Israel. The watchmen of Saul perceived great confusion among the Philistines, and saw their numbers decreasing and yet no one was missed from the armies of Israel. After numbering the men of war Jonathan and his armor-bearer were reported missing. Saul and the people were perplexed. He had the ark of God brought, and while the priest was inquiring of God, the noise among the Philistines increased. It sounded like two great armies in close battle. When Saul and the people of Israel perceived that God was fighting for them, those who had fled and hid in their terror, and those who had joined the Philistines through fear, united with Saul and Jonathan, and pursued the Philistines. The Lord wrought for Israel, and delivered them for his own name's glory, lest the heathen army should triumph over his people, and exalt themselves proudly against God. 4aSG 71.1

Read in context »
The Ministry of Samuel and Anointment of Saul
The Kingdom of Saul and His Wars
Saul, 1000 BCE