Wednesday, February 2, 2011

1 Samuel: 14 Jonathan, a God Made Hero

In this 1768 parchment, Jekuthiel Sofer emulat...Image via Wikipedia

I think that the most powerful statement of belief in this section was made by Saul’s son, Jonathan, when he and his armor bearer went, on their own initiative, behind enemy lines. 

1 Samuel 14: 6  “Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf.  Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

This is such a striking confession of faith because Saul had already publicly disobeyed and dishonored God just before this military campaign commenced.  Then, since he didn’t have God’s blessing upon him as leader, Saul carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle.  This Ark was simply a repository for the stone tablets on which God etched the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s staff with the almond blossom, and a hin of manna.  In and of themselves, these were manifestations of God’s hand in the life of Israel.  They were not magical or powerful.  Yet, taking them into battle, suggests that Saul regarded them as talismans.  Saul didn’t seem to really understand who the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was.

Jonathan, on the other hand, demonstrated a deeper understanding of God.  He trusted God with his life; he trusted God with Israel’s future.

By stepping out in his faith in God’s will for Israel, Jonathan precipitated the turning point of this major battle.  Until he decided to enter the Philistine outpost, Israel, though ready to battle, was really prepared for battle.  None of the soldiers, except Saul and Jonathan, had swords.  It seems that Israel’s army was focusing more on the supplies they lacked than on the God of Israel, who would deliver them, who did not require man’s weapons.

After Jonathan and his sword bearer killed twenty Philistines in the outpost, God released a severe panic on the Philistine army.  Saul’s army could pursue the Philistines and destroy them because they were confused and striking each other.

On that day, God acted in tandem with Jonathan’s faith, and rescued Israel from a heavily armed, powerful enemy.

And, it worked out exactly as Jonathan believed – God delivered Israel using only those people whose hearts were available to him.

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