Meditations in 1 Samuel 26. Extending Faith
1 Sam 14:6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”
Sometimes in the Bible there are people who are not the main players but who nevertheless convey a powerful testimony. Saul’s son Jonathan is one such person. In the last meditation we noted how Israel were short of weapons so that only Saul and Jonathan had swords (others would have had spears no doubt and other non-metallic weapons). We have seen how, when the Spirit of God came on Saul, he rose up, called out Israel and vanquished an enemy persecuting a part of Israel to the east of the Jordan, but mostly he was fairly cautious when left to himself. Jonathan however exhibits all the brashness and courage of a young man. Already we have read, “Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it.” (1 Sam 13:3) Give Jonathan some soldiers and he’ll go and sort the enemy out!
The start of the incident recorded in our verse above reads, “One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.” (1 Sam 14:1) So here he is frustrated at the inaction and so, accompanied by a young armour bearer, decides to go and prod the Philistines again – but doesn’t tell his father. In that we see a distinction between he and his father. His father is on the side of carefulness; Jonathan is on the side of …. well, we’ll see in a moment.
The scene is set for us: “On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez, and the other Seneh. One cliff stood to the north toward Micmash, the other to the south toward Geba.” (1 Sam 14:4,5) Before these two young men there is a ravine with steep cliffs and on the other side from them at the top of the cliff the Philistines have set up a lookout post.
Jonathan reveals what is on his heart: “Jonathan said to his young armour-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” (v.6) Wow! Look at the faith level in this young man. A number of chapters on we’ll find another young man expressing similar thoughts: God is on our side so what can stop him sorting out the enemy, let’s give this a go, who knows what He will do. I find this incident one of my favourites in the Old Testament for it reveals a level of faith that is challenging, stirring and exciting.
I like the young armour bearer’s response: “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” Jonathan certainly knows how to choose his servants! A young man of like heart. Excellent! But now see Jonathan’s wisdom: “Jonathan said, “Come, then; we will cross over toward the men and let them see us. If they say to us, `Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, `Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands.” (v.8-10) Now naturally it would have been the other way round – if they come down from their high secure position, we can take them on the level but if we have to exhaust ourselves climbing the cliff we won’t be in such a good state to fight. But, no, he says the opposite. If it looks hard, God is in it and it will mean these guards at the top are complacent, and we can take them. And that is what happens. In fact these two young men kill twenty of the Philistines and panic from the Lord sets in throughout the Philistines camp. When Saul and his men eventually turn up “They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords.” (v.20) It is a total victory, all because two young men trusted in the Lord and stepped out in faith against the enemy. Unfortunately there is a downside to all this because of Saul’s folly but we’ll leave that until the next meditation.
What sort of church do we belong to? Is it a church that is comfortable and complacent that prefers peace and quiet to reaching out in faith to do the Lord’s bidding? Do we create an environment where faith is praised and young people (particularly – with their energy) are encouraged to step out for God? For us today the enemy is godless unrighteousness in the world around us, shown in unbelief and self-centred living. Complacency is the primes enemy to be challenged. Unbelief is the prime enemy to be challenged. Religiosity is the prime enemy to be challenged. Faith – listening to God and stepping out on His word – is to be encouraged. Where are the Jonathan’s today who are willing to go and confront the enemy and see what God will do?