1 Samuel 13:19-14:14 A Few Good Men Should Suffice
1 Samuel 13:19-14:14
19 Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21 The charge was two- thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22 So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. 14:1 Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. … And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. … Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.” 7 His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.” 8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men and reveal ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you’; then we will stand in our place and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hands; and this shall be the sign to us.” 11 When both of them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, the Philistines said, “Behold, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 So the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor bearer and said, “Come up to us and we will tell you something.” And Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hands of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer behind him; and they fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer put some to death after him. 14 That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men within about half a furrow in an acre of land. 15 And there was a trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. Even the garrison and the raiders trembled, and the earth quaked so that it became a great trembling.
Israel was severely disadvantaged because of their lack of proper weapons for battle. And Saul no longer carried the Spirit of boldness that he had when he was first anointed by Samuel. Even though he had 600 men, but they were just waiting it out. However, there was a silver lining in his house: his son Jonathan who became an inspiration, when he and his armor bearer attacked the Philistines’ garrison cutting down 20 men along their path. Jonathan’s feat reminded the Israelites of God’s faithful presence who will be able to win the battle regardless of their numbers. God doesn’t need a whole army but a few good men should suffice.
So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people – As the Israelites did not possess the skill of metallurgy, they could not wrought iron weapons for themselves. Thus, they only had their agricultural equipment as weapons. As compared with the Philistines who were able to make metal helmets, chest armor, spears and swords, the Israelites were severely disadvantaged. Despite their obvious handicap, the Lord was with them and enabled them to overcome their enemies.
Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side – Saul at this time was holding ground in the vicinity of Gibeah. The Israelites were waiting it out, not that they had a strategy, but they were petrified for sure. Jonathan decided that he would not want to stay dormant, broke away from the main troops to seek a divine opportunity against the enemy. What sets Jonathan apart from the rest (including his father) is his faith in God’s ability to deliver Israel despite their handicap. Saul by this time was no longer operating under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, as he no longer carried the boldness he displayed against Nahash the Ammonite king.
That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men – Jonathan and his armor bearer revealed themselves to the Philistines being determined to break this wait out. Jonathan appointed a sign for himself that if the Philistines would say to them, “Come up to us and we will tell you something” interpreted as “teach you a lesson”, it would be a clear indication that God has given the Philistines into their hands. Jonathan and his armor bearer made their advance and killed about 20 men along their path. And it is the Philistine’s turn to panic: there was trembling in the camp, described here as a very great panic: it became a great trembling.
- Man’s greatest asset is not found in large numbers or in physical resources but in his spirit. Jonathan and his armor bearer cut down 20 men along their path, which is no ordinary feat. We see this being repeated throughout the Old Testament as well as in modern history. The 300 men of Gideon killed 120,000 Midianites swordsmen. The 12 disciples of Jesus turned the world inside out with the gospel. Abram took on four kings, defeated them and returned with the spoils. Therefore, we must above all build our spiritual assets, which is truth, faith in God, patience and courage. When a man walks in the truth, he will gather boldness and courage. When a man trusts in God, he will have faith that God will deliver despite physical limitations. The spirit of man and his resolve is the greatest asset in the universe.
- A man’s level of confidence will determine the outcome of his endeavors. Jonathan and his armor bearer were fearless despite being severely out numbered. Jonathan said, “God can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few”: for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few. It is Jonathan’s boldness that led him to his victory. Hence, our level of confidence will determine the eventual outcome of our endeavors. This applies to our career, ministry and academic endeavors. How do we increase our level of confidence? By meditating on the solid food of the word and by remembering His promises. God said to Joshua,
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9
The more we are filled by God’s truth, the more we become strong and courageous. If we would consistently meditate on God’s word, we will receive courage to prosper under all circumstances.
- If you remain resolute despite your limitations, you induce fear in your enemy. Your state of confidence will either enable or paralyze your enemy. If your confidence remains high and resolute, you destabilize your enemy’s morale. Jonathan and his armor bearer’s resolve and courage caused a great panic in the camp of the Philistines. Hence, it is important to constantly be united and focused on carrying out what God has instructed. In doing so, we are assured of God’s presence with us despite our physical limitations. Paul says to the Philippians church,
Stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents —which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you. Philippians 1:27-28
- Do you feel lousy about yourself because you seem poorer and less talented than others? Your greatest asset to success is not your resources or talent but the quality of your spirit, which is your faith. It is your faith that will move mountains.
- Do you have a tendency to see problems more than possibilities? In God’s scheme of things, there is nothing that is impossible. If you remain resolute and focused on God’s wisdom and power, he will put that confidence in you and show you the way to overcome your challenges.
Dear Lord, I now understand that your presence is the key to overcoming difficulties and challenges of life. I no longer depend on physical resources or be discouraged by the physical might of my opponents. As I put my trust in you, fill me with your Spirit of wisdom and courage and to prosper in all my endeavors. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.