January 11, 2017
1 Samuel 14
Shawn Bumpers / General
1 Samuel / Jonathan (name); Armor-bearer; Philistines; Victory
As we have observed over the previous weeks, the character of Saul has been steadily deteriorating.
We’ve already found him to be impatient, lacking in faith, and of questionable integrity.
Now, looking more toward our chapter for tonight, Saul’s son, Jonathan, was a godly man.
And in our chapter, the Lord will give him and his armor bearer a great victory over the Philistines.
While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, our sins still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God, and a good relationship cannot be achieved until the relationship is restored.
When we are in that right relationship with God, then He will honor our sacrifices.
And we need to remember that we don’t do things out of superstition or formula … do this, this, and this in this order and God will respond.
• Earlier in 1 Samuel, the Israelites thought that taking the ark out before them into battle meant God was going to give them the victory even though their hearts were not right with Him.
• Saul thought that offering sacrifices was a means of securing God’s cooperation, and so he didn’t wait for Samuel, but offered sacrifices by himself.
1 Samuel 14:24 NKJV
And the men of Israel were distressed that day, for Saul had placed the people under oath, saying, “Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies.” So none of the people tasted food.
Why the vow?
Perhaps trying to be super spiritual, since he had been so un-spiritual before.
• He thought that the combination of their fasting plus the presence of the ark would bring them victory.
• But Jonathan and his armorbearer were victorious without the ark or the fasting.
Jonathan knew nothing about his father’s rash vow.
He went ahead and ate some honey and was strengthened.
But when the army went to their next engagement, they sought the guidance of God but failed to get an answer.
This led to Saul’s discovery of Jonathan’s disobedience, and he is willing to kill his own son!
How easy it is to be convicted about somebody else’s sins in the face of your own sins.
Some days don’t seem any different from other days but turn out to be “remarkable.”
On this particular day, God would win a great victory through Jonathan’s trust in Him.
In God’s case, trusting Him naturally follows when we understand why we should.
• The main reason we should trust God is that He is worthy of our trust.
He never lies and never fails to fulfill His promises.
Numbers 23:19 NKJV
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
He has the power to bring to pass what He plans and purposes to do.
Isaiah 14:24 NKJV
The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying,
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass,
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:
Romans 8:28 NKJV
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
• He has proven Himself to be trustworthy in our lives and the lives of others.
Psalm 100:5 NKJV
For the LORD is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
• Finally, we really have no other good choice:
Jonathan had an armor bearer … in fact every officer in the Israelite army would have had one.
The Armor Bearer would help the officer in fighting and administration of the army and at would often simply carry the armor and weapons of the officer.
Jonathan’s armor bearer must have been especially brave, and especially loyal.
The Philistines had sent a detachment of soldiers to establish a new outpost where they would guard the pass that was at Michmash.
We saw this last week in the final verses of chapter 13.
Jonathan had already attacked and defeated a Philistine garrison with an army … recorded in chapter 13.
The picture is made even more complete in that he sits under a pomegranate tree.
In scripture, the pomegranate is a picture of fruitfulness.
Take a look at verse 3 and you see that Saul had a priest with him.
Saul is an example of the man who triest to appear religious and do God’s work, but lacks a living faith in God and a heart to honor Him.
Jonathan knew his father and knew what to expect from him.
Had he told his father of his plan to attack the Philistine garrison, Saul would have commanded him not to do such a foolish thing.
But Jonathan wasn’t about to sit and wait under a pomegranate tree.
He saw an opportunity to trust in God and he took it.
Leviticus 26:8 NKJV
Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;
your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
Before we move on, let me draw your attention to what it says at the end of verse 3, “But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.”
In other words, Jonathan didn’t get everyone in the camp’s attention and say, “Hey y’all watch this!”
The text describes a unique setting for this garrison.
It is positioned before a pass with one large cliff on each side.
Sometimes we can get so hyper-spiritual that we miss God’s opportunities in the practical.
For Jonathan, this was more than a reconnaissance.
He wanted to see what God could do through 2 men who would trust him and step out boldly.
Certainly Jonathan could have just prayed that God would rain down fire from heaven on the Philistines.
God uses willing people of faith to take bold action.
“Silence isn’t always golden; sometimes it’s just plain yellow” – G.K. Chesterton
Romans 8:31 NKJV
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Some of the most wonderful words in all of scripture is found in Jonathan’s armor bearer’s response: “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”
These words must have cheered Jonathan greatly.
Back in the time of the Judges, Gideon had led a small army against larger forces.
But Jonathan’s plan of attack was different from Gideon’s in several ways.
When the 2 men showed themselves to the enemy, the Philistines only mocked and laughed at them.
Joshua 23:10 NKJV
One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you.
And then the LORD honored their faith by sending an earthquake.
Often we wait around for God to do what we can do.
But God will often do miracles – what He alone can do – if we will do what we can do.
It didn’t matter if the Philistines greatly outnumbered the Israelites, and had far better weapons.
Saul and his 600 men were back at Gibeah where Saul lived, and those keeping watch could see the Philistine forces retreating.
But they didn’t know why they were retreating.
Saul didn’t know what time it was!
As Saul and his army moved toward the battlefield, they were joined by Israelites who had deserted to the enemy camp and those who had hidden away out of fear.
It seems strange that Saul would welcome deserters and cowards into his army.
Perhaps it demonstrates Saul’s lack of trust in God.
We are far from a bold trust in God when we will only do what seems to be a “sure thing.”
God really used Jonathan, but it wasn’t Jonathan’s victory.
It was the LORD’s victory.
God was just waiting for someone with the bold trust of Jonathan!
Which of these groups of people are you most like?
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