Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. And Saul was sitting in the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men. Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. But the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.
Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The front of one faced northward opposite Michmash, and the other southward opposite Gibeah. Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.” Then Jonathan said, “Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them. If they say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them. But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us.”
So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.” Then the men of the garrison called to Jonathan and his armorbearer, and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armorbearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has delivered them into the hand of Israel.” And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them. That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armorbearer made was about twenty men within about half an acre of land. And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.
Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there. Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there. And Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here” (for at that time the ark of God was with the children of Israel). Now it happened, while Saul talked to the priest, that the noise which was in the camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the battle; and indeed every man’s sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion. Moreover the Hebrews who were with the Philistines before that time, who went up with them into the camp from the surrounding country, they also joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle. So the Lord saved Israel that day, and the battle shifted to Beth Aven. (1 Samuel 14:1-23)
Seal Team One
The army that faced Israel that day was an immense force of 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen and an infantry that could not be counted (likened to the sand on the seashore). Fear filled the hearts of the Hebrews as they hid in caves, thickets, rocks, holes and pits. Compounding the problem weapons for the army of Israel was scarce. It was so bad on the day of battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan. The situation was dire. Hope was lost in the hearts of the people as they looked across the landscape at an army that seemed to fill the earth. Fear controlled every man but one.
Jonathan was the son of King Saul. His friendship with David is well known as he often saved David from the wrath of his father. The story of the shepherd king killing the Philistine giant Goliath is legendary. Less known is the heroics of Jonathan before David fills the headlines of courage. There seemed to be no hope of defeating such a large army and less chance of one man making a difference. Jonathan had an extraordinary faith in the Lord (more than his father). What he saw in the Philistine army was not the impossibility of victory but the power of God showing His glory in the defeat of such a large army. 1 Samuel 14:6 is the classic scripture of faith seeing beyond the impossible to the reality of what one man with the Lord can accomplish. Because of the actions of Jonathan and his armor bearer the victory by a rag tag army of Hebrews was secured over a super power of their day. The Lord saved Israel that day because of the courageous faith of one man.
Life is often filled with the impossibilities. We look across the horizon of our lives with fear and trepidation at what stands before us. It is easy to become discouraged with the immensity of physical problems, spiritual battles, economic fears and a host of things that paralyze the spirit. Jonathan calls from the generations past reminding us of the power of God in our lives. There were times the Lord used mighty powers with the strength of thousands to defeat His enemies. And there were many times the Lord only needed one man to stand in the gap. Noah and his family secured the salvation of the whole world by their faith. David defeated Goliath as one man with God. Twelve men began a religious movement in the city of Jerusalem two thousand years that is the most powerful thing on the planet. Saul of Tarsus turned the world upside down in his day and his writings continue to marvel the world.
The power of my faith and God is the majority. We can accomplish anything with the power of God if we would only believe in His power. My faith can make Satan fall. My courage will help others see the glory of the Lord in my life. As a child of God I have already overcome death and there is no fear. Victory. The victory of Jonathan is my victory if I will have the faith to say, “Come, let us go.” Are you ready? This is a great story.
Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears. (Arthur Koestler, Arrow in the Blue, 1951)