Anyone that has known me long enough will probably hear me at one point or another make a passing reference to the events recorded in 1st Samuel chapter 14. Every now and then God allows us to see events recorded in scripture so vividly and clearly that they become a part of our own life’s testimony and purpose. There are many examples of great faith found throughout the scriptures – but the simplicity and sincerity of Jonathan and his armourbearer has always really stood out for me. God’s word is replete with examples of people just like you and I who decided to step out and take God at His word. Daniel 11:32 tells us, “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Saul had only been king in Israel for two years, but had already been rejected by God from being King. Before Saul’s reign began the people of Israel were discontent with the form of government that was in place – which one could argue was a theocracy headed by the prophet Samuel. Just as in modern Israel, the Isreal of 3000 years ago was flanked by enemies seeking its annihilation, and the people wanted a leader who could protect them from these deadly foes. The people however failed to acknowledge that during the entire rule of Samuel the people had been protected from their enemies all around – and there was no need for a formal military.
Samuel warned the people that if they chose to have a King rule over them that he would be someone who would trust in military might and human power, and would exact what he needed from the people to establish this (in modern terms, think high taxes, forced servitude and a military draft). Samuel’s warnings were not enough, and the people said, “Nay, but we will have a king over us; that we may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” –1st Samuel 8:20 Two years after Saul was appointed King, the Bible tells us that 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and soldiers “as the sand of the seashore in multitude” pitched against Israel. The people were so distressed that they hid in caves – and only 600 men remained with Saul, and they had no weapons with them but a handful of swords.
Suddenly the days of Samuel’s leadership were looking pretty good! Saul’s son Jonathan however had a different perspective of the situation. He understood that the outcome of any battle had nothing to do with the numbers of people involved – but who God favors. Psalms 33:16-19 says, “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” Jonathan looked at the young man next to him and made one of the boldest statements ever uttered in history, “Come, and let us go to the garrison of these uncircumsized: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or few.” -1st Samuel 14:6
Imagine the scene here unfolding… two young men approaching a countless multitude of soldiers for battle! Jonathan told his companion, “…if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.”-1st Samuel 14:10 Sure enough, the Philistine army taunted them, calling them to come over – and that is exactly what they did. Jonathan and his armourbearer entered the host and began fighting, killing around 20 men when a ‘great trembling’ began throughout the host of the Philistines – and they began beating down each other. When Saul and his 600 men saw this, suddenly they had courage to pursue them in battle, in addition to all those hiding in caves and those who had defected to the Philistines. The faith and understanding of two young men saved a nation that day, and demonstrated the scripture we know today, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” –Romans 8:31
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