A VALIANT MAN
Lord, free me from over-familiarity with the Scriptures. Open my eyes to see truths which I might overlook.
Read 1 Samuel 13:23 – 14:23
Jonathan Attacks the Philistines
23 Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Mikmash. 14 1 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.
2 Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, 3 among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.
4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”
11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”
13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.
Israel Routs the Philistines
15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[a]
16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. 17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armor-bearer who were not there.
18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.)[b] 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”
20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23 So on that day the Lord saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectGod is Lord of your days and nights, your waking and sleeping, your comings and goings. You can trust him for the day that’s ahead and the one that has passed.
Saul is surrounded by people who are better than him. His character flaws are exposed by the luminous qualities of those around him. Samuel’s passion for God’s name shows up Saul’s pragmatism, and in this reading, we are introduced to his son, Jonathan.
The setting is one of military confinement; the Philistines are about to overwhelm an inadequately resourced Israelite army at Micmash. David and his men cower in the shadows. But Jonathan sees an opportunity in the area’s topography, which is full of deep gorges, gullies and steep cliffs. By means of stealth, these two young men take the enemy by surprise. Their actions spawn panic in the ranks and Saul is able to capitalize and win the battle.
Jonathan’s reasoning is faith-filled: if God is with us then nothing can stop us (v 6). These words, indeed Jonathan’s actions here, seem to prefigure an even younger man who will defeat a Philistine giant on Saul’s behalf (1 Samuel 17) and who will feature heavily in Saul’s life. Jonathan’s bravery serves to highlight Saul’s absence at a crucial moment.
Are there areas where you need to place your confidence in God’s power and Word, to step out in faith with the knowledge that he is with you?
Lord, I acknowledge that I naturally follow the easy way. Call me to new challenges and adventures for you beyond my comfort zone.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.