Faithlife Sermons

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The passage we’ve read together today is a thrilling story.
I hope you saw that as we read together.
It starts with Saul, the king of Israel sitting under a tree whilst his tiny army sat around him.
The Philistine army was running riot, you can see from [[chapter 13 and verse 17|Bible:1Sam 13:17]] that they had raiding parties unopposed.
Not only that, but the Israelites, Saul’s army, had no weapons.
It’s clear from the passage we’ve read together that something remarkable happened here, isn’t it?
I mean, this two-man SAS raid against all the odds was totally successful.
But let’s not miss the point.
This chapter is not a page out of a military manual, or a history textbook.
Although much of this chapter reads like a story out of Boys’ Own Annual, short stories from children’s magazines don’t survive for three thousand years, do they?
Nor are military manuals, history textbooks or boys annual inspired by God.
But this story is.
And that’s why it’s worth our while in reading it, in studying it, and in hearing it preached.
This story is supposed to teach us more than strategy, more than history.
It’s supposed to give us more than excitement, it’s supposed to teach us about ourselves, it supposed to teach us about God.
So Jonathan’s remarkable victory was not due to meticulous planning, a stroke of genius or sheer good luck.
Jonathan himself makes that clear.
Look at what the text says.
[[Verse six|Bible:1Sam 14:6]]: “Perhaps the Lord will act”.
[[Verse 10|Bible:1Sam 14:10]]: “That will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”
[[Verse 12|Bible:1Sam 14:12]]: “The Lord /has/ given them into the hand of Israel.”
Do you see?
It was the Lord’s victory, wasn’t it?
But let’s not forget how the Lord did it.
He won the victory through Jonathan.
What enabled Jonathan and his little armour-bearer to achieve what Saul and his 600 men could not?
It was faith.
Faith that Saul never had.
Faith that is expressed clearly in [[verse 6|Bible:1Sam 14:6]].
“Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows.
Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf.
Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
I’m sure you already know that faith is vital to the Christian life.
But how does faith express itself?
How does faith grow and develop?
We can answer those questions by looking at Jonathan’s faith.
I have four points for you this morning, and they all come from that one verse, [[verse 6|Bible:1Sam 14:6]].
But before we look at Jonathan’s faith, I just want you to notice that Jonathan is not alone in this fight.
I’m going to say a lot about Jonathan, but I’ll probably forget to say very much about his armour-bearer at all.
So while it’s still in my mind, will you think about him for a moment?
This little armour-bearer is a great character.
Do you know what an armour-bearer was supposed to do?
I looked it up in a Bible dictionary.
They are “personal servants who carried additional weapons for the commanders of Israel’s armies.”
But that’s not all.
“Another of their duties was to slay those wounded in the onslaught of their masters.”
In other words, the armour-bearer would be there in the thick of the battle, carrying a heavy load of weapons, and fully involved in the fighting.
But do you know what’s unique about this armour-bearer?
[[Chapter 13 verse 22|Bible:1Sam 13:22]] gives you the answer.
“Not a solider with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand.”
This armour-bearer didn’t have any arms to bear!
And he certainly didn’t  have any weapons to fight with.
Yet this amazing man follows Jonathan into battle with those amazing words we read in [[chapter 14 and verse 7|Bible:1Sam 14:7]].
“Go ahead, I am with you heart and soul.”
I mention this wonderful man, because I suspect that here this morning there are a lot more armour-bearers than Jonathans.
In any church there are only a few who have the gifts and calling to say, “Let’s go up…”, “Let’s do this”.
But I trust there are a lot of people who are willing to say, “Go ahead, I am with you…”
Could Jonathan have achieved this victory without the armour-bearer?
Probably not.
Would he have had the courage to go and fight, without the knowledge that his armour-bearer was with him.
I doubt it.
So I want to encourage all you armour-bearers out there.
That’s right, those of you who, like the armour bearer feel that you’ve not really got anything to offer to those who take the lead.
Those of you who like the armour-bearer feel that you’ve got no weapons to fight with.
Those of you who, like the armour-bearer are sure that history will not remember your name.
This sermon is for you too.
You might need a Jonathan to follow.
I’m sure there are Jonathans here.
But, oh what a difference an armour-bearer makes.
He may be empty-handed, he may be anonymous.
But he’s willing, and he’s faithful, and he gives Jonathan all the encouragement he needs to be able to put his faith into action.
I’m going to let the armour-bearer slip into the background now.
I kind of feel that’s just what he would have wanted.
But let none of us think that Jonathan could have managed without him.
Armour-bearers — thank you for your years of faithful service.
Keep going!
But you too can learn from Jonathan.
Do you remember I told you that I had four things to say about Jonathan’s faith?
The first thing is this:
!
Faith recognises who God is
Jonathan knows that if he is to have faith at all, it must be faith in God.
It’s no good having faith in a vague concept.
It’s no good having faith in a vague God.
Jonathan’s faith in God must be clear, and therefore he needs to understand who God is.
Look back at [[verse six|Bible:1Sam 14:6]], and in the middle you’ll see this wonderful phrase: ‘Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving’.
Jonathan looks at who God is, and comes to the conclusion that God is a saving God.
Now Jonathan could have said many things about God.
God is a loving God.
God is a caring God.
God is a righteous God.
God is a just God.
But here, he focusses on this one thing: God is a saving God.
Can you see how his mind works?
Israel needs to be delivered, to be saved.
Is that something he can expect God to do? Absolutely, because God is a saving God!
So it’s /reasonable/, he concludes, to have faith that he will save.
Sometimes we separate faith from reason.
But that’s not what Jonathan does, and it’s not what the Bible teaches.
Here, and throughout Scripture, we see that true Biblical faith /is/ reasonable.
You see, there are some prayers which are so in line with God’s character, that it is /reasonable/ to have faith that God will answer that prayer.
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