There is a story in the fourteenth chapter of First Samuel this is probably one of my favorite in the whole Bible (notice I said “one” of my favorites not the favorite. I suppose that if you read the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, you would probably find my favorite). But, First Samuel Chapter fourteen introduces us to Jonathan. In fact, we named our first son Jonathan in honor of this fellow! In fourteenth chapter, we find that Jonathan was Saul’s son, but that is not all. The chapter demonstrates some very interesting things about Jonathan (and his father, Saul).
It occurs during a time when the Philistines were hassling the Hebrews again. and verses 6-16 says that Jonathan looked at his armor-bearer and said, “Hey, let’s see what God can do. Naturally the Lord is going to win the battle, whether by many or a few. Just for fun, let’s see if He does it by a few — like two?” What courage!
It reminds me of David’s encounter with Goliath when I read about Jonathan’s faith and certainty that if the Lord wants Israel delivered it doesn’t matter whether it is accomplished by two men, or two thousand! Numbers don’t matter. Y’honatan and his servant (called here an armor bearer) would see how the Philistines responded to their provocation. If the Philistine soldiers say, “Stay there until we come down to you,” then that is what they will do. If they say, “come up towards us,” then that will be a sign from God and we will go up to them!
Now I have to tell you that if we were there at the time, I am not sure how many of us would have regarded Jonathan’s plan as good and commendable, a demonstration of faith or a suicidal and brash attempt to test God by a couple of guys suffering from a testosterone rush. But me? I love men like these, men of courage and boldness. It is infectious and encouraging.
My bestest buddy recently came over after my accident and rather than listen to my story, he prayed for me. I met another dear and precious friend in the grocery store recently, and again, rather than listen to the story, he began to pray for me. That takes courage, and impresses the bejeebers out of me! Friends, don’t talk about your problems, pray about them! And gather people around you who are as obsessed with prayer as you are!
In the case of Jonathan’s armor-bearer, he was either merely being faithful to his leader or a man of courage, as well. I say that because he didn’t flinch or ask for an immediate transfer. However, there is a lesson for us all about how the Lord makes use of those who inhabit His Kingdom and trust Him in every situation. In many ways, Jonathan was just like his father, Saul: impetuous, kind of a show-off, hot-tempered, and rash. Yet the difference is that Jonathan was as unselfish as Saul was selfish and as noble as Saul was base. Jonathan was as determined in his faith and belief in God’s power and wisdom and ability to deliver as Saul was determined that he would manipulate the Lord for his own purposes and risk nothing.
We see how two men of essentially the same temperament and personality can at the same time be so opposite in their natures. Saul was being used by the Lord to show us everything that a leader in the Kingdom of God should not be, and Jonathan was a demonstration of what can happen when a person focuses on God and not his circumstances. King Saul was led by his own lusts, desires, and inner demons. Jonathan was led by the Holy Spirit. And despite the deep faults and troublesome personality traits that characterized them both, their destinies were night and day apart due to a single all-encompassing personal choice that each had made at some point in their lives: would they or would they not obey the Lord at all costs.
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