In 1 Samuel 13, Saul starts well. He gathers an army of 3,000 men and assigns 1,000 of them to Jonathan (v. 2). This is the first mention of a standing army in the camp of Israel. Verse 3 says that Jonathan “smote the garrison of the Philistines” while verse 4 ascribes the victory to Saul
This is not a discrepancy in the text but a statement of Saul’s responsibility, as the leader of the nation, for Jonathan’s action. Saul probably formulated the plan that Jonathan executed with great success—great enough that the Philistines amassed quite an army of their own to seek revenge (v. 4-5). [The large number of chariots and horseman recorded in our text is probably due to a copyist error. Still, whether the number of chariots be 3,000 or 30,000 or the number of horseman 600 or 6,000, the Philistine military strength is clear.]
Almost every college and high school student starts the year well. In a race, every runner starts at the same point. Most marriages start with great celebration and smiles. So many start well, but it is finishing well that is worth shouting about. Listen to the words of another Saul, Saul of Tarsus:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Make up your mind to finish well. If you want some advice on how to do that, read, memorize and live out what the writer to the Hebrews writes in Hebrews 12:1-3.