One would have imagined that Saul would be delighted with a victory over his enemies and proud of the role taken in the battle by his son Jonathan. But he was not, and in his response he shows that he was a foolish man, and he shows his folly in at least five ways.
First, he engages in a bizarre checking to see who is missing instead of heading against the enemy. This points to a sense of jealousy that someone else is capable of defeating the enemy.
Second, he is impatient with finding the Lord’s will (vv. 18-19). Third, Saul self-centredness comes out strongly in this incident. He wanted the glory for himself and he showed no concern for his troops.
A fourth feature, which was totally inappropriate for a leader of God’s people, was that he asked more of them than God did when he wanted to punish his son Jonathan, which they did not want to do.
A fifth detail was the rashness of his oath. It had several consequences. It showed to Jonathan that his father was not fit to rule, and his stupid oath had weakened the people and prevented them from obtaining a greater victory. Then it caused the people to sin when they ate blood when they were hungry. The Lord was displeased, which is shown by his refusing to answer. It led to great injustice in that Jonathan was condemned for doing nothing wrong. And it led to Saul’s authority being challenged by the people for they refused to allow Saul kill Jonathan.
These features are further evidence of the fact that Saul was not a good leader of God’s people. Jealousy, impatience, self-centredness, demanding and rashness marked him. Unfortunately, he was not the last leader in the church to combine some of those traits.