Daily Reading: (1 Samuel 13:16-18, 1 Samuel 14:1,6-7):
“Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Mikmash. Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual, another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboyim facing the wilderness. One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
In 1 Samuel chapters 13 and 14 there is an answer in this Old Testament text for our lives in what we should do when we are faced against overwhelming odds.
Without knowing any of the backstory the subheader “Israel without weapons” should tell you they are not at a position of personal strength here. What they don’t know is that this is a good place to be because God’s grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. When we are weak, then we are strong, it is because we are relying on His strength not ours. As we have some enemies that wage war with our lives everyday (the enemy of greed, the enemy of lust, the enemy of pride, of anxiety, fear, loneliness, depression, etc…) we might feel like Israel that we are ill-equipped to fight the battle we are called to victory in. However, we do possess weapons in this fight, spiritual ones used to fight spiritual battles. We have been equipped for victory in Jesus name as we use the spiritual weapons we have been given (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Saul braggingly sounds a trumpet letting Israel know of the victory over the Philistine garrison. “So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost.” Saul had double the number of soldiers and yet Jonathan is the one who led the successful attack. Saul takes the credit for Jonathan's bold attack on the garrison of the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:3-4).
Saul is not daring and bold like his son Jonathan and is not willing to come out to fight the enemy. We are told Saul is hiding in a cave with only 600 men left with him who are scared to death (1 Samuel 13:15). There are none to oppose these raiding parties, of so little use and service was the king Israel thought they needed. Their trust ought to be in the Lord their God; never was their country more exposed to violence than now with Saul as their leader.
Whenever we put our trust in a man or woman over God or we put our trust in our government we will be disappointed at some point. Trust in God. You’ll see what happens when someone is willing to trust in God during a dire situation (1 Samuel 14:12-15). Trusting in God leads to overwhelming victory.
“The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.” So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 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.”
Ephesians 6:17: God's Word is a sword that cuts away bondages in our lives. During the temptation in the wilderness, our Lord Jesus gave us a pattern of how to fight against the devil: by using the written Word of God – He said to the devil "It is written...".
While you can’t change the past, you can allow your past to ruin your future. The best way to live is in the moment. You won’t live in fear and worry if you live in the moment because fear and worry have to do with your future. Condemnation and regret deal with your past. God gave the children of Israel manna in the wilderness one day at a time. If they kept the manna until the next day, it would become rotten and breed worms. God's grace is given to us on a day-by-day basis and gives us victory in our present. “On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez (white glistening) and the other Seneh (thorny). One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba. Sharp crag and another sharp crag.” Victory was found between a rock and a hard place (1 Samuel 14:4-5). We have the same Holy Spirit that was upon Jonathan in this moment- and it testified to this truth- (no 40,000 plus Philistine army or anything else) against you can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.
My main point is when the odds are stacked against you- what you and I need is only one sword like Jonathan had. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Jonathan needed faith to move forward into battle. Faith comes by the Word of God. That’s the sword he needed. Boldness to act is not mustering up courage. Boldness to act comes by hearing the Word of God, that is faith.