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1 Samuel 14:1-14 - Victory Over The Philistines

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A.                 Jonathan’s Adventure In Faith.

1.                  Jonathan’s Has A Proposal (v.1-3).

a)                  It happened one day (v.1a):

(1)                 At the beginning, there was nothing in this day that indicated it would be a remarkable day. But it would!  On this day, God would win a great victory through the bold trust of Jonathan.
(2)                 “God is looking for those who will receive his power and grace on the one hand, and transmit them on the other.  He chooses them, that by them he should make his mighty power known.”

PAUL WRITES TO THE CORINTHIANS: "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NKJV)

(3)                 God is not looking for millionaires or famous athletes or entertainers or statesmen.
(4)                 A simple, uneducated, untalented, and clumsy believer who has trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and who faithfully and humbly follows His Lord is immeasurably wiser than the brilliant Ph.D. who scoffs at the gospel.
(5)                 The very things that put them ahead in the world may actually put them behind with God. It is the feeling of inadequacy that makes people aware that they have need, and often draws them to the gospel.

b)                  The young man who bore his armor (v.1b).

(1)                 Every “officer” in the Israelite army had an “assistant” known as an armor bearer.  The armor bearer would help the officer in fighting and administration of the army. They would often simply carry the armor and weapons of the officer, so they were known as armor bearers. 
(2)                 “Armor-bearers in ancient times had to be unusually brave and loyal, since the lives of their masters often depended on them.” (Youngblood)
(3)                 Later, God would raise up a special armor bearer for King Saul: a young man named David. 

c)                  Let us go over to the Philistines garrison (v.1c).

(1)                 The Israelites were outnumbered, and were greatly surpassed in military technology. Yet Jonathan is bold enough to go over to the Philistine garrison just to see what the LORD might want to do. 
(2)                 Jonathan probably was awake at night, offended and outraged at the way these godless Philistines were oppressing the Israelites.  As he lay awake that night, perhaps a thought suddenly came into his mind: “Shamgar!” Shamgar?  Jonathan probably remembered him from his Bible. Judges 3:31 describes how Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with a sharp stick. Jonathan probably thought, “Well, if God could do it through Shamgar, He could do it through me!” 
(3)                 As Jonathan thought about it more, he considered there was no way the LORD had forsaken Israel. Even though the odds were great against them, God was greater than the odds. God had promised to do great things for Israel.
(a)                 He promised that Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. (Leviticus 26:8)
(b)                He had won great victories against great odds before, as in the days of Gideon or Samson. God gave this land to Israel, not to the Philistines. God could do it!  Why not now?  Why not today?  Why not through me? 

d)                  Jonathan did not tell his father (v.1d).

(1)                 Why not?  It may have been just an oversight, or something easily and properly explained. Or, it may have been that Jonathan deliberately did not tell his father, because he believed his father would have simply said “no.”

e)                  Saul was sitting (v.2-3a).

(1)                 What a contrast! The bold, brave, king is simply sitting . . . under a pomegranate tree while his son boldly goes over to the Philistine garrison.  Saul is there; the priest with the ephod is there (as sort of an “army chaplain”). They sit back while Jonathan bravely trusts God. 
(2)                 The Mention of Ichabod seems almost unnecessary. 
(a)                 Why would we need to know that the priest with Saul, Ahijah, was the nephew of Ichabod? Probably, God wants us to associate the meaning of Ichabod’s name with where Saul is at spiritually.
(b)                Saul’s royal glory is almost gone, and it is appropriate that he associates with a relative of “The Glory Has Departed.” 

f)                   The people did not know that Jonathan was gone (v.3b).

(1)                 This indicates that Jonathan did not do this out of a desire for personal glory. If that were his motivation, he would have told at least a few people that he had gone over. 
(2)                 Temporal Glory is not to be desired: Temporal Glory:

Is Given By God—Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar "You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;" (Daniel 2:37, NKJV)

It Passes Away—"All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, " (1 Peter 1:24, NKJV)

Is Seduced By The Devil—"Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory." (Matthew 4:8, NKJV)

Is Not To Be Sought From A Human Source—"Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward." (Matthew 6:2, NKJV)

Ends in destruction—"Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself And opened its mouth beyond measure; Their glory and their multitude and their pomp, And he who is jubilant, shall descend into it. " (Isaiah 5:14)

2.                  Jonathan Finds A Strategic Position (v.4-5).

a)                  Between the passes . . . there were sharp rocks on either side (v.4).

(1)                 On his way to the Philistine garrison, Jonathan sees something that any military man would notice.  He sees a strategic position - a narrow path through a pass, with large, sharp rocks on either side.  A few men could easily fight against a much larger number at this strategic place. 
(2)                 If Jonathan would have never decided, to go “over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side”  (1Sam.14:1) he would have never found this strategic place. God guided Jonathan, as Jonathan was boldly trusting God, and acting on that bold trust.

THE PSALMIST WRITES "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. " (Psalm 9:10, NKJV)

DAVID WRITING TO HIS SON SAYS "As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind”(1 Chronicles 28:9, NKJV)

PAUL SAYS "I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." (2 Timothy 1:12, NKJV)

JESUS SAID "this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3, NKJV)

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. " (Psalm 62:8, NKJV)

"“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. " (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NKJV)

 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. " (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. " (Psalm 16:9, NKJV)

"Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. " (Psalm 25:8-9, NKJV)

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. " (Psalm 32:8, NKJV)

3.                  Jonathan’s Bold Proposal (v.6-7).

a)                  It may be that the LORD will work for us (v.6a).

(1)                 For Jonathan, this was more than a scouting expedition. He wanted to see what God could do through two men who would trust him and step out boldly. 

"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV)

"“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 20:1, NKJV)

(2)                 Jonathan Knew The Need Was Great.  Israel was already hopelessly outnumbered and demoralized. 
(3)                 Jonathan Knew God Wanted To Use Someone. His father, King Saul, just wanted to sit under a pomegranate tree.  Something had to be done, and Jonathan was willing to be used by God to do it. 
(4)                 Jonathan Knew God Wanted To Work With Someone.  Jonathan could have just prayed that God would rain down fire from heaven on the Philistines.  But Jonathan knew that God uses the bold action and fighting spirit of His people. “It was not Jonathan doing the work with God helping him, it was the Lord working through Jonathan.”

b)                  For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few (v.6b).

(1)                 What wise courage in God!  Many in Israel probably believed this as a theological truth.  But few believed it enough to do something.  Illustration of a bomb threat! 
(2)                 Jonathan’s Faith Was Demonstrated By His Works. 

JAMES WRITES "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him…? "Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:14, 17)

"But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18, NKJV)

"Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (James 2:21,22)

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26, NKJV)

(3)                 Nothing restrains the LORD! Do we really believe it?  We often think that our God is Too Small. We often feel that God is restrained in one way or another. In reality, the only thing that could be said to restrain God is our unbelief: 

IT SAYS OF ONE TIME IN JESUS’ MINISTRY, "He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:58, NKJV)

(4)                 God’s power is never restrained, but His will may be restrained by our unbelief.  He may choose not to act until we partner with Him in trust.  God had a trusting partner in Jonathan! 
(5)                 By many or few: What did it matter?
(a)                  Who cares about the odds or the point spread when God is on your side? The odds were already against Israel. Did it matter if it was a million-to-one or a thousand-to-one? Numbers or odds did not restrain God, but unbelief could. Jonathan never read the New Testament, but he had a Romans 8:31 heart: If God be for us, who can be against us? 
(6)                 Notice where Jonathan had the emphasis. He had little faith in himself, but great faith in God.
(a)                 It wasn’t “I can win a great victory with God’s help.” It was “God can win a great victory through even me.” 

c)                  Go then; here I am with you (v.7).

(1)                 These words from Jonathan’s armor bearer must have cheered Jonathan greatly. When we step out in faith, encouragement can make all the difference for good.  And discouragement can make all the difference for evil! 
(a)                 God was going to use Jonathan, but He wasn’t going to use Jonathan alone. Almost always, when God uses a man, he calls others around that man to support and help him.  They are just as important in getting God’s work done as the man God uses. So, if you can’t be a Jonathan, then find a Jonathan - and attach yourself to him as like Jonathan’s armor bearer. 

4.                  Jonathan Proposes A Test (v.8-10). 

a)                  Very well, let us cross over (v.8).

(1)                 This indicates that Jonathan took the support of his armor bearer as confirmation. 

b)                  This will be a sign to us (v.10).

(1)                 In his step of faith, Jonathan wants to know he is really being led by God. So he proposes a test: they will show themselves to the Philistine guards.
(2)                 If they respond one way (“Come up to us”) Jonathan will know God wants them to fight and win the battle. If the guards respond another way (“Wait until we come to you”) Jonathan will know God does not want them to fight this day. 
(3)                 Jonathan is showing wisdom, not unbelief. To this point, he is not acting on a specific, confirmed word from God. Instead, he is following the bold hope and impression of his heart. He is humble enough to know his heart might be wrong on this day, so Jonathan asks God to guide him. 
(a)                 This is not the same as Gideon’s setting of a fleece (Judges 6:36-40). Gideon had a confirmed word of God to guide him, but he doubted God’s word.  Jonathan was not doubting God’s word; he was doubting his own heart and mind. 
(4)                 Jonathan is prompted by faith.
(a)                 He does not demand to know the whole battle plan from God in advance.  He is willing to take it one step at a time, and let God plan it out.  Faith is willing to let God know the whole plan and know our part one step at a time.

5.                  Jonathan And His Armor Bearer Attack The Philistines (v.11-14). 

a)                  Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden (v.11).

(1)                 At this time of crisis, the Israelites were hiding anywhere they could (1 Samuel 13:6). It was reasonable for the Philistines to think these were Hebrew deserters surrendering to the Philistines because they thought it was better than hiding in a hole! 

b)                  “The LORD had delivered them into the hand of Israel.” 

(1)                 What an exciting moment this must have been for Jonathan!  His bold trust in God had been confirmed by a sign, and now he knew God was going to do something great. 

c)                  They climbed up on their hands and knees (v.13).

(1)                 This was a difficult climb.   The rocks are steep and there are a lot of Philistines up there.   So he got down on his hands and knees and climbed!
(2)                 If we only want victory, or want to be used by God when it is easy, we won’t see much victory and we won’t be used very much.


d)                  And they fell before Jonathan, his armorbearer killed them (v.13-14).

(1)                 Jonathan knew that the battle was the LORD’s, yet he knew God would use him to fight. When Jonathan saw God’s confirming sign, he didn’t lay down his sword and start praying that God would strike them all down. He prayed, made sure his sword was sharp, and trusted that God would use him to strike them all down!

6.                  God Attacks The Philistines (v.15).

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. 

a. There was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people: It seems that the Philistines, under a divine confusion, instantly awoke that early morning with the thought “We are attacked by enemies in our midst!” Then rushing about, they thought their fellow Philistines might be the enemy, so they began to fight one another, and kill one another! 

i. It didn’t matter if the Philistines greatly outnumbered the Israelites, and had far better weapons. God was more than able to set the Philistines against each other. If the Israelites had no swords, the LORD would use the swords of the Philistines against the Philistines! 

ii. “It is not strange if the Philistines were both astonished and intimidated; God also struck them with a panic terror; and withal, infatuated their minds, and possibly put an evil spirit among them, which in this universal confusion made them conceive that there was treachery amongst themselves, and therefore caused them to sheath their swords in one another’s bowels, as appears from verses 16 and 20.” (Poole)

iii. “Possibly God blinded their eyes or their minds, that they could not distinguish friends from foes. Compare Judges 7:22; 2 Kings 6:18; 2 Chronicles 20:23.” (Poole) “But God, where he pleaseth, can easily trouble the fantasy, and make men to mistake; as we see daily in melancholy persons, who looking through a black cloud, as it were, see all things black, dark, cross and hurtful.” (Trapp)

iv. Trapp’s comment on this section seems good, if I could only understand it: “As anyone was in their way, they knocked him down: being smitten with such a scotama or acrisis, a giddiness of the brain, or blindness of judgment, that they knew not their friends from their foes in that distemper and hurrycomb.” What on earth is a hurrycomb? 

b. The earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling: Jonathan and his armor bearer had done their part. Now God was doing his part. Jonathan could use his heart and his sword, and he did. But what Jonathan could not do - send a great earthquake to terrify the Philistines - God did. Often we wait around for God to do what we can do. But God will often do miracles - what He alone can do - if we will do what we can do. 

c. The very great trembling must have terrified the Philistines. But it would have comforted Jonathan and his armor bearer. They would have been confirmed in their confidence in such a great God.

7. (16-19) Saul learns of the battle.

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.”

a. There was the multitude, melting away: Imagine how this must

have looked to the watchmen of Israel! They were keeping an eye

on the huge army of the Philistines, and the army starts to melt

away before their eyes.

b. Call the roll: Why? Did it matter? What Saul should have done

was go and fight the Philistines at this strategic moment. Instead,

he was probably worried about who was leading the battle, and

who would get the credit.

c. Bring the ark of God here: Why? What for? Saul is probably

trying to look spiritual here, but what did he need to seek God

about? There is a time to go aside and pray, and there is a time to

get your sword out and fight. Saul didn’t know what time it was!

d. While Saul talked to the priest . . . the noise which was in the

camp of the Philistines continued to increase; so Saul said to

the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” It is strange that at this

moment, Saul would not know what to do. His insecurity and fear

and self-focus have paralyzed him. It was time to fight. But

eventually, the noise of God and Jonathan fighting against the

Philistines becomes so loud, that Saul knows he has to fight to. So,

he tells the priest “Withdraw your hand.” This means, “Stop

seeking and answer from God with the urim and thummin,” which

were held in a pouch in the priest’s breastplate.

i. Trapp calls Saul’s words here “Words of profane impiety . .

. it is now no time to consult with God, for we know well

enough what we have to do, and will take our opportunity.”

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