Call to Worship June 20 2021
Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 14:1-23
Wallowing in sin, shame, and sadness never creates thoughtful or godly decisions. So it was with King Saul after he had unlawfully and unwisely made offering before the Lord. He was confronted with his sin by Samuel and told of the consequences of his actions. Then, after the people continued to scatter in fear, Saul wallowed in shame and sadness. He indecisively loitered under a pomegranate tree while the Philistines amassed their army throughout the region. They camped in the valley below Gibeah and on the hillsides of Michmash. Saul sat with 600 hundred men and Ahijah the priest with the Ark of the LORD nearby, while he did nothing. He failed to make a plan for the protection and provision of his people.
Meanwhile Jonathan, Saul’s son, recognized an opportunity to assess the situation and the temperament of the Philistines. He took his armor bearer across the only unguarded land route on a recon mission. “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised,” said Jonathan, “perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6 NAU). While he assessed the scene, he remembered the works of the Lord against the enemies of Israel in the past. So the two rocky crags that seemed impassible, especially to his enemies, were not as much of an issue for Jonathan. He focused his mind on how the Lord may give the Philistines into his hands.
When the Philistines saw the two Hebrews they essentially jeered at them. They told them to come up and meet them for their “woodshed moment” or “beat down.” Jonathan recognized their unguarded thoughtlessness in the situation and made the final climb to the Philistines. He and his armor bearer killed twenty men in just a small area of space and span of time. So quick was the strike that God brought quaking fear and pronounced confusion among the Philistines. Their thousands upon thousands (ch.13:5) turned upon themselves and many more were killed that day (14:13-16).
Saul and the Israelite camp recognized the confusion and retreat. They rallied to the battle, but upon their arrival their meager weapons were not especially needed. They had hoes and axes, but the Lord had turned the Philistines upon themselves with the use of their own swords. Although the Philistines kept any blacksmith from fashioning swords for the Israelites (13:19-21), God showed his power to protect His people. He used Jonathan as a catalyst, by faith, to search out a way to protect the people and to take action. Then he accomplished the more complete defeat by His power to confuse the Israelite enemies into defeating themselves. “So the LORD delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven” (1 Sam. 14:23 NAU).
God never leaves His people without protection, even when leadership around them is failing or godless. The Lord is always accomplishing His purpose and plan. Therefore He always provides the way of protection in this world of sin. Those who go about their daily work without recognition of the enemies around will certainly fall prey. Those who go about wallowing in past sin, shame, and sadness will also fall prey. Remember who is the King of all the universe and of every age; He always gives wisdom through His word. His word provides the purpose and motive for faith. Also it provides the substance of truth to act according to His precepts.
For most of us, from a human perspective, the odds against God’s people are innumerably great, but our God is greater than all odds. May we not become humanists who look to our understanding to view the world, or view it in light of our own failings. May we have faith in the promises of God’s word to His people. Even when the odds are seemingly countless against us, our God will protect us through the Kingship of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Not one who has been given to Him will be lost. Jonathan, according to faith, scaled what looked to be an insurmountable wall of rock. Yet Christ is greater, for He scaled our mountain of sin through His perfect life and death. Therefore in Him, according to His word, we have what we need to live in this world surrounded by Philistines. Take the word and read it. You will gain faith in the Triune God and wisdom to make decisions in a fallen world.