During this period of history, the army of Philistia (called the Philistines) often entered Israel. Their purpose was to control Israel. They demanded the payment of taxes and they ruled in a powerful manner.
It was Saulís desire to free his nation from the Philistines. In fact, it was not merely Saulís desire; God had appointed Saul for this purpose (9:16).
Saulís plan was, firstly, to attack the Philistine soldiers who were staying in Israel. To do that, Saul did not need to gather Israelís whole army. The Philistines had established small camps in Israel, for example, the one at Geba. So, Saul selected a group of 3000 soldiers to attack these camps. He led 2000 of those men personally. His son Jonathan led the other 1000 men.
This is the first time that the Bible mentions Jonathan. Today, people often remember Jonathan as the loyal friend of David, Israelís second king. However, Jonathan had other good qualities too. He was a brave soldier, a capable army leader, and (unlike his father Saul) he had great trust in God.
It was Jonathan who began Israelís attack. He led his men in a battle against the Philistinesí camp at Geba. (Geba was about 5 miles from Saulís home at Gibeah). Saul knew that the Philistines would not accept that defeat. They would send a much larger army into Israel. So now Saul needed to gather all of Israelís men to fight a major battle against the Philistines. He sent men to declare the news through all Israel. They sounded trumpets (their loudest musical instruments). That was the sign for all the men to gather for war.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.