What’s a Rash Oath? A Study on Rashness

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Nina woke from sleep hearing her parents’ voices arguing in the next room. Tousling her hair in sleepiness she reached for the clock to see the time. The luminous hands showed 30 minutes past midnight.

Her father was drunk again. He had promised a week before that he wouldn’t come home drunk. Nina was hurt, disappointed and angry, because she loved her father very much.

Nina’s disappointment with life had thrown her in such gloom that she was for a time seeing a psychiatrist and taking anti-depressants. However, she had decided a week ago it was to stop taking pills. As a result, she was having trouble sleeping. Tonight, she fallen in to a natural and deep sleep after quite some time. Until she was rudely woken up! She walked over to the next room and announced with anger and rashness,

“Dad! If you won’t stop coming home drunk like this, I won’t try to sleep and I won’t eat or drink anything either!”

Saying this, she went to the lap top and turned to an online bible site to read 1 Samuel 14 which was about rashness and divine inspiration within the lives of one father and son.

When reading through the chapter and commentaries I realized further how right God’s decision was to remove Saul as king and give the throne to David. With each passing scene, Saul is becoming more and more a law unto himself, moving from bad to worse. Rash actions, bold speeches, and haughty pride don’t make a good king and these are the characteristics that are developing in Saul as he ages. The extent to which Saul was ready to go to prove a point is seen by his declaration that his own son be put to death to justify his oath: a rash and unnecessary oath that nearly had his army killed during battle.

If God knew Saul to be such a person, why did He allow him to become king? That’s one question that comes in to my mind when I think about the chapter. I know that God knows all things. God also knew what sort of a man (outward look and behaviour) the Israelites wanted when they said they wanted a king. I think this is an instance that makes the adage “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” true. Did God wish the Israelites to understand that what they wanted could never make a good king, through practical experience? Did God want the Israelites to SEE the difference between what THEY wanted from God and what God wanted for them: Saul and David?

I believe real bravery comes from following divine inspiration as Jonathan did. Not by running in to battle when the enemy was confused and being so impatient he couldn’t wait to see what God’s answers were to his questions. I cannot help sharing feelings of disappointment at King Saul, right along with the Israelites of the time.

What did I learn? 

According to the freedictionary.com rash actions are prompted by ill-considered haste or boldness. Was Nina’s statement not to eat or sleep a rash oath in the class of Saul’s oath? I think it is. In Nina’s case the motive may be good: she wants her father to stop drinking and be the man God made him to be for he is a good man if not for his one weakness, but Nina’s fault was not stopping to ask God what HE would have had her do in the situation. God would probably want Nina to continue being gentle and strong, be a humble and gentle daughter but always pray and wait for the day God would heal her father Himself.

It isn’t easy or fun waiting. But this I’ve understood over time. Being a Christian means doing one of two things. You are either obeying the Lord’s will or you are waiting for the Lord’s will.

Here are some interesting pointers that caught my eye withing Matthew Henry’s commentary on the chapter:

  • “Those can never think themselves safe who see themselves out of God’s protection.”
  • “Those most indulgent to their own sins are most severe upon others; those who most disregard God’s authority, are most impatient when their own commands are slighted.”
  • “Sometimes we find most comfort in that which is least our own doing, and into which we have been led by the unexpected but well-observed turns of Divine providence.”
  • “He that made the heart, knows how to make it tremble.”


  1. 1 Samuel 14 of the NKJV Bible
  2. Matthew Henry’s commentary on 1 Samuel 14
  3. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown commentary on 1 Samuel 14