Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Israel was screwed. History records that their army was about 3000 fighting men:
Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty years.
Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes (1 Samuel 13:1-2).
The Philistines, on the other hand, were less of an army and more like a sea of death:
The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven (1 Samuel 13:5).
Then men of Israel were scared, some even ran away; heck, even the army itself was terrified and taking to flight:
When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gigal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gigal, and Saul’s men began to scatter (1 Samuel 13:6-8).
And, because Saul had been impatient, God was angry with him:
“You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command” (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
On top of all of that, most of the army had run away and those that were left were going to have to fight without weapons:
Then Samuel left Gigal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred (1 Samuel 13:15).
Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” (1 Samuel 13:19).
To summarize: “So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them” (1 Samuel 13:22). In short: Israel was screwed.
However, Jonathan didn’t care:
Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Micmash. One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man bearing his armor, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father (1 Samuel 13:23-14:1).
He had faith:
Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord for saving, whether by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).
Therefore Jonathan challenged a group of Philistines:
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.” The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson” (1 Samuel 14:11-12).
And God gave him victory:
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. In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.
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 (1 Samuel 14:13-15).
So, Saul’s faith was rejuvenated:
Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.) 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” (1 Samuel 14:18-19).
And the Israelites entered the battle field, without weapons, only to find that God was already at work:
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. 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 (1 Samuel 14:20-21).
So the rest of Israel regained their faith too and victory was gained:
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. So the Lord rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven (1 Samuel 14:22-23).
Rock on God, right?
The faith of one man who believed that God could do anything led to a revival and victory for his nation. This is an important lesson the Holy Spirit wanted me to share with you. Remember every day that God is all powerful. After all, it is written, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). Not only is God all powerful, but the Lord wants to help his people. Even Jesus noted this when he taught in Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” With even a small amount of faith, God can do great things; for the Bible says,
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
Jonathan only had a little faith and almost nothing in the line of resources as he went against the Philistines by himself, but his actions changed the course of the war and history; just from his faith.
Trust in Christ and his sacrifice on your behalf. Lean on him for all things and realize that God has all the power. In his wisdom writings, Solomon wrote,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Even though he is a being of immense offensive power, the Lord also protects those who are his (just like he protected and empowered Jonathan). Jesus taught,
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:30-31).
The Lord empowers you, the Lord protects you, and when trouble comes the Lord turns everything toward your favor. Paul wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). With Christ you will have all of this and heaven as well; for it is written, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22). Trust in Christ and experience the ridiculous power of God working in your life every day and you’ll be able to proclaim with Paul, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me to safety to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).
Amen. Rock on God!