1 Samuel 14:16-23 When words can no longer move people, acts of bravery will

1 Samuel 14:16-23

Now Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted away; and they went here and there. 17 Saul said to the people who were with him, “Number now and see who has gone from us.” And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. 18 Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel. 19 While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and came to the battle; and behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them all around in the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, even they also pursued them closely in the battle. 23 So the Lord delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven.


Jonathan tired of his father’s indecision took it upon himself together with his armor bearer and faced off with the Philistines. Saul remained indecisive even when the commotion started, only after he saw the enemy melting away in all directions did he rise up into battle. Jonathan because he was not afraid to give up his life for Israel knew that it was God’s plan to deliver the Philistines into their hands. He mustered the courage to take the first step by confronting the Philistines at the garrison, and God took the subsequent steps to deliver Israel. Amidst the despair of the people, when Saul’s words did not move them to solidarity against the enemy, but Jonathan’s act of bravery did.


Now Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted away – Jonathan and his armor bearer broke away from the troops, being tired of waiting it out. The two men cut down 20 men at the Philistines garrison and caused such a panic and commotion that Saul’s watchmen saw the multitude melted away in every direction.

Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here – Jonathan’s heroic encounter destabilized and frightened the Philistines. Saul’s lookout saw the enemy in flight and suspecting some Israelite involvement he took a roll call and realized that Jonathan and his armor bearer had taken upon themselves to confront the Philistines. Saul summoned the ark in a bid to enquire of God as to the next course of action. The ark was still housed at Kiriath Jearim but it was summoned by Saul to the battle. When Saul saw the Philistines were in total disarray, he ordered the priest to withdraw his hand from the sacred lots (Urim and Thummim).

And behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion – Then Saul and his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other and there was terrible confusion everywhere. Even the men who had previously defected to the Philistine army revolted and joined in with Saul, Jonathan, and the rest of the Israelites. Likewise, the men of Israel who were hiding in the hill country of Ephraim joined the chase when they saw the Philistines running away.

So the Lord delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven – God fought and saved Israel that day pushing back the enemy beyond Beth-aven. God had wanted to deliver the enemy into Israel’s hands but Saul was found wanting, petrified and uncertain of God’s will. It took just 2 men to jolt the Israelites into battle and kick-start God’s salvation plans into action. What was really amazing was the return of the defectors back into Israel as well as those who were previously hiding found the courage to fight again.


  1. It takes a man of courage to hear God’s voice and kick-start His salvation plans into action. It is impossible to understand God and His plans if one lacks courage. Saul waited out because he could not hear God’s voice; he could not hear because he was not prepared to take courage and fight. While it seemed plain to Jonathan that God is giving the enemy into their hands on that day. He made an independent decision to take on the enemy by himself. What is courage? It is the willingness to put everything on the line and even one’s own life in order to accomplish God’s purposes. As sacrificial love is one of the attributes of Christ, in order to understand Him, it is necessary for one to put on that attribute. Many people are selfishly concerned of their own wellbeing, safety and even their dignity. Hence, they cannot be used for God’s purposes. While they sang about Christ’s unselfish love in dying for their sins, they remained selfish and self-centered in their core.
  2. There is a difference in being religious and being willing to give one’s life to fulfill God’s purposes. The devil is not afraid of one who is knowledgeable in the word or one who is accustomed to religious things. He is terrorized by one who is willing to give his own life to do God’s will. One could be devoted to studying the word, prayer and worship and yet still miss out on God’s wonderful plans. Saul truly believed that the ark carries God’s presence and had the ark with him. But he remained oblivious to God’s plans because he was afraid of losing his own life; he was not prepared to give his life for the defense of his country. Hence, he remained ill confident even when the commotion started, only after he saw the enemy melting away in all directions did he rise up into battle.
  3. We need to muster our resolve to take the first step, only then God will take the subsequent steps. When God gives us an inner sign of His will, we must respond by taking the first step, only then can we see God’s power at work. Jonathan took the first step to confront the enemy, and the rest we know is history. In the grand scheme of things, God wants His sons to take authority over the world and conquer it; He never intended the world to be handed over to His sons on a silver platter for there is no glory in that. Paul says creation is waiting to be restored when the sons of God are ready to take it and be glorified (see Romans 8:21).
  4. When words can no longer move people, acts of bravery will. Jonathan’s courage and dedication moved the disloyal and the fearful to repentance and back into solidarity with Israel. Many defected to the Philistines and many hid away refusing to be conscripted because they had no confidence in Saul’s leadership. Jonathan’s independent venture showed that the enemy was not invincible after all. What Jonathan did immediately moved the people into action. Our acts of courage and bravery is contagious in creating solidarity and unity for action.


  1. Is your career or ministry at a standstill for a long time? Perhaps, there are some steps you fear to take or people that you fear to offend? Take some time to reflect those fears in the light of the Spirit and let courage and hopes arise. If you take the first step in faith to do what He has revealed, He will take the subsequent steps to ensure victory for you.
  2. Do you find yourself growing in knowledge of the word, but your heart remains weak and lacking in confidence? Perhaps, it is time to have faith in God by giving your life unreservedly to Him and letting Him determine your future plans. Make it a life principle to listen to His voice one day at a time and do it.

Dear Lord, I recognize you as the King of creation having full authority over me, my family and the nation. I believe you have plans to prosper me and my nation. Use me as a beacon of hope to bring the truth and the hope of salvation to my family and work place. I endeavor to fulfill your will by giving my time, talent and finances. Use me as I dedicate my life to you as an instrument for your plans. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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