1Saul was thirty when he became king, and he reigned over Israel for forty-two years.
2Saul had chosen three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand of them were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and another thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. He sent the rest of the army home.
3Jonathan attacked the Philistine garrison at Geba. The Philistines soon heard about it, so Saul had the trumpet call to arms sounded throughout the land, saying, “Hebrews, pay attention!”
4All of Israel heard the news, “Saul has attacked the Philistine garrison, and now Israel is like a bad smell to the Philistines!” So the whole army was called up to join Saul at Gilgal.
5The Philistines gathered to fight against Israel. They had three thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and soldiers as numerous as sand on the seashore. They advanced and camped at Michmash, east of Beth-aven.
6When the Israelite men realized the tough situation they were in, and that the army was taking a beating, they hid themselves in caves, holes, rocks, pits, and cisterns.
7Some of the Hebrews even crossed the Jordan into the territory of Gad and Gilead, but Saul stayed at Gilgal, and all the men with him were trembling with fear.
8Saul waited there seven days for the time that Samuel had said, but Samuel did not arrive at Gilgal, and the army started to desert him.
9So Saul ordered, “Bring the burnt offering and the friendship offerings to me,” and he presented the burnt offering.
10Just as he finished presenting the burnt offering, he saw Samuel arrive. Saul went over to meet him and say hello.
11“What have you done?” Samuel asked. Saul replied, “Well I saw my men were deserting me, and you hadn't arrived when you said you would, and the Philistines were gathering at Michmash to attack.
12I said to myself, ‘The Philistines are about to attack me at Gilgal, and I haven't asked the Lord for his help.’ So I felt I had to present the burnt offering myself.”
13“You've been really stupid,” Samuel told him. “You haven't kept the commands of the Lord your God. If you had, the Lord would have made your kingdom over Israel secure forever.
14But now your kingdom won't last. The Lord has found for himself a man who thinks like him, and has chosen him as ruler over his people, because you haven't kept the commands of the Lord.”
15Then Samuel left Gilgal. The rest of the soldiers followed Saul to meet the army, going from Gilgal to Geba in Benjamin. Saul counted the number of soldiers who were with him and there were about six hundred.
16Saul, his son Jonathan, and the soldiers with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin, while the Philistines were camped at Michmash.
17Three groups of raiders left the Philistine camp to go and attack. One group went towards Ophrah in the land of Shual,
18one towards Beth-horon, and one towards the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim by the wilderness.
19There wasn't a blacksmith to be found anywhere in Israel, because the Philistines had said, “So that the Hebrews don't make swords and spears.”
20All the Israelites had to go to the Philistines to sharpen their iron plowshares, pickaxes, axes, and sickles.
21The fee was two-thirds of a shekel for plowshares and pickaxes, and a third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and cattle prods.
22So when it came to the day of battle none of the soldiers with Saul and Jonathan had swords or spears—only Saul and his son Jonathan had such weapons.
23A Philistine garrison had taken control of the pass at Michmash.