Saul reigned over Israel for forty-two years. The beginning of his reign was marked by incredible success. But as the end drew near, success began to elude him.
Perhaps it was not totally Saul’s fault. At the end of chapter twelve, Samuel warned Israel of the consequences of unfaithfulness. But now Israel had a king. Surely that would make a difference.
In the very next chapter, the Philistines have so over-run God’s people that their army and weaponry is decimated. Saul and Jonathan are leading valiantly (if unfaithfully on Saul’s part), but it will not be enough. Sin will bring disaster.
Though Saul faced many enemies, the Philistines were his most prevalent. But chapter fourteen would seem to indicate that Saul ran his army in a very worldly way – focusing on tactics, weaponry, and strength. That would be, of course, why he has so much trouble. Contrast his attitude with that of Jonathan however whose faith leads him to attack the Philistines with a lone sword, an armor-bearer, and the strength of the Lord. The Philistines are routed magnificently in a panic sent by God.
You will see in chapter fourteen that Saul is fairly self-absorbed, and because of that, he has trouble seeing the help God offers. It’s true with all of us: our world would look bigger if we were seeing less of ourselves in it.