Wednesday, November 9, 2016

4:12 Series - Jonathan

(The following account is taken from 1 Samuel, chapters 13 and 14. At some points, I paraphrased the dialogue and added some elements that were not explicit in the original account. My purpose was to make the story easier to read and to highlight certain things, while trying to retain the meaning and context of the historical account.)

The Young Commander

Jonathan, the young prince of Israel, was only a teenager when his father, King Saul, made him a commander in the army. 1 Though the law required only men 20 years and older to enlist2, Jonathan wasn't looking for an excuse. He was the kind of man who went above and beyond minimum requirements because he wanted his life to count for God. this time Israel was virtually ruled by the Philistines -- a rich and warlike nation. They controlled the production of iron, and made sure that Israel couldn't produce their own weapons. But the LORD wanted his people to take back the Promised Land, and He commissioned King Saul to do it. So Jonathan took his poorly armed, poorly trained men, and defeated a Philistine garrison at Geba. Crisis at Michmash!

When the Philistine lords heard of it, they were livid! How dare these pathetic Israelites rise up against them! They amassed an army that covered the land like the desert sands, with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen. They marched confidently into Israel and encamped at Michmash. the Israelites realized what they were up against, their hearts melted, and many ran! Some hid in the hills, others in caves, some in tombs or cisterns, hoping to escape the slaughter that now seemed inevitable! Others fled to the lands across the Jordan River. It was every man for himself!

Soon, Saul and Jonathan were left with only six hundred men whose loyalty and courage hung by a thread! What's more, Saul and Jonathan were the only ones with proper weapons. The rest had only farming tools like plows and axes. Jonathan had every reason to be afraid. But he was angry, too. He couldn't stand that these ungodly Philistines were terrorizing God's people! He wanted to see the God of Moses, who drowned Pharaoh's army in the Red Sea; the God of Joshua, who made the sun stand still! Who were these Philistines to mock the LORD?

So, as his father and the other commanders worried and argued over what to do next, Jonathan came to a resolution...

A God Tougher than Steel; A Faith Stronger than Fear

One morning, he gathered his courage and told his armor bearer3, "Come with me to the Philistine garrison."4 It was a crazy suggestion. But Jonathan had always been a good judge of character, and he had chosen his comrade well. The armor bearer hesitated for a moment. But the look in Jonathan's eye was enough to convince him.

The pass to Michmash
They slipped out of the camp and made their way up the pass. Rocky crags towered over them on both sides, and up ahead loomed the Philistine garrison. This would not be like Geba. Now, it was just the two young men against the largest army Israel had ever seen!

As they approached, Jonathan paused, and turned to his armor bearer. "Let's go. The LORD doesn't need a big army to save Israel. If He wants to, He can do it just as easily through us."5

"Lead on. I'm with you all the way!" came the trembling but firm reply.6

When the Philistine sentries spotted the two youths approaching, they smiled. Hoho! We're going to have fun with those two idiots! they thought.

Minutes later, they were dead. Jonathan and his armor bearer mowed through twenty of them like grass! The other Philistines quickly went from shock, to horror, then to sheer panic as they fled into the camp. The two Israelites had the strength of gods!

The earth began to shake violently, and the army was thrown into chaos. The commanders tried to keep everyone in line, while others fought their way out! Some of the men were ethnic Hebrews, and they decided that the only way to save themselves was to turn on the Philistines.

Through Jonathan's faith and courage, God made the proud Philistine army collapse in on itself!
The men who had marched so haughtily into Israel, expecting to squash God's people like a fly, ended up fleeing with their tails between their legs!

When Saul and the other Israelites saw what was happening, they rallied and drove the Philistines clear out of Israel's territory.

God had done the impossible! And He did it with two trembling young men, whose zeal and faith were greater than their fear.


1 In some Greek manuscripts, 1 Samuel 13:1 reads, “Saul was 30 years old when he became king” (cf. NASB). That would put Saul at 32 or 33 years old at the Battle of Michmash, which indicates that he fathered Jonathan at a very young age (early teens).

2 Numbers 1:3.

3 An "officer selected by kings and generals because of his bravery, not only to bear their armour, but also to stand by them in the time of danger." Easton's Bible Dictionary.

4 1 Sam. 14:1 - "Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side." (ESV)

5 1 Samuel 14:6 - "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many of by few." (ESV)

6 1 Sam. 14:7 - "“Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul."(ESV)

No comments:

Post a Comment