There are many incidents in the Old Testament that can uplift us and amaze us, and when reading of them we can marvel at the faith of the individuals concerned. So let us look at one of these.
We read of the incident in 1 Samuel 14 v1-23, when Jonathan and his amour bearer decided to go over to where the Philistine garrison was, without the knowledge of Saul the king. This act would not be for the faint hearted as we know the Philistines were a nation of mighty warriors.
Jonathan's plan was to make himself known to the Philistines and if they replied to Jonathan with certain words, they would regard it as a sign that the Lord was with them and that it was safe to proceed toward the Philistine garrison. The right words were spoken and Jonathan took it as confirmation that indeed the Lord was with them.
He and his armour bearer proceeded to slaughter the Philistines, v13, "and they fell before Jonathan and his armour bearer slew after him". v15 "And there was trembling in the host in the field and among all the people; the garrison and the spoilers, they also trembled and the earth quaked; so it was a very great trembling ...and behold the multitude melted away and they went on beating down one another". v23 "So the Lord saved Israel that day and the battle passed over unto Bethhaven".
So what can we learn from this story? What insight can we see in Jonathan and his armour bearer's behaviour?
- He didn't wait on others - he took action.
- He showed great faith, giving the Lord the credit. v6 "it may be that the Lord will work for us, for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few". He realized that numbers mean nothing if the Lord is on your side.
- He showed great courage v18 "Behold, we will pass over unto these men and we will discover ourselves unto them" - not something to take lightly.
- He shewed great trust in the Lord v10 "But if they say thus, Come up unto us, then we will go up for the Lord hath delivered them unto our hand and this shall be a sign unto us".
In Jonathan's mind there was no doubt. He took the initiative, he showed great faith and took action. He had no doubt that the Lord was helping him. Imagine the scene - the army of the Philistines falling down before Jonathan, the earth shaking as an outward sign to the people v15 "so it was a very great trembling".
Imagine Saul's surprise when he finally arrived at the battle scene, v20 "And behold every man's sword was against his fellow. And there was a great discomfiture" and, as quoted before in v23 "so the Lord saved Israel that day".
So how can we take comfort from this snapshot of history? I think we limit what is possible for us to achieve in this life.
Look at these verses;
- Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me"
- Matthew 17:20 "And Jesus said unto them,...if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place and nothing shall be impossible unto you".
- Matthew 9:29 "According to your faith be it unto you".
So with faith and courage by our side, we can take action, and as Jesus said in Mark 9:23 "All things are possible to him that believeth".