Wednesday, July 15, 2020

2020.07.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read 1 Samuel 14:1–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jonathan say to whom (1 Samuel 14:1a)? Whom did he not tell? Where was Saul, and whom did he have with him (1 Samuel 14:2)? What person is especially highlighted in 1 Samuel 14:3? What topographical feature do 1 Samuel 14:4-5 highlight? What does Jonathan call the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14:6? What does he propose doing? What is his reasoning? How does the armor bearer respond in 1 Samuel 14:7? What does Jonathan propose as a sign (1 Samuel 14:8-10? What does this “sign” ensure will be the result, regardless of where it actually happens? How do the Philistines respond (1 Samuel 14:11-12a)? What does Jonathan conclude (verse 12b)? What do he and his armor bearer do in 1 Samuel 14:13-14? How do the Philistines respond to their initial loss (1 Samuel 14:15)? Who notice this (1 Samuel 14:16)? What does Saul want to know in 1 Samuel 14:17? What does Saul decide to do first (1 Samuel 14:18)? Now what does he decide in 1 Samuel 14:19? What did they see at the battle in 1 Samuel 14:20? Whom do we now find out were in the Philistine army (1 Samuel 14:21a)? But what do they now do (verse 21b)? Who else joins up in 1 Samuel 14:22? How does 1 Samuel 14:23 summarize what happened so far in this chapter?
“Nothing restrains Yahweh from saving by many or by few.” Here is Jonathan’s statement of faith.

He and his armorbearer are a stark contrast to Saul and Ahijah. Saul’s kingship has been rejected by God (1 Samuel 13:13–14), and so has Ahijah’s priesthood (1 Samuel 14:3, cf. 1 Samuel 2:34–36, 1 Samuel 4:21–22). So while the lame ducks sit under a pomegranate tree, the Lord is saving His people by two guys climbing an impossible ravine (1 Samuel 14:4), who aren’t even missed (1 Samuel 14:17) until the lookouts notice that the Philistine army is imploding upon itself and scattering to the mist (1 Samuel 14:16).

Saul’s response is pitiable. Having failed to obey God’s approved prophet in chapter 13, he tries to follow what he thinks is the correct religious ritual in 1 Samuel 14:18, but notices that he’s about to miss the battle altogether (1 Samuel 14:19-20).

How very different is Jonathan’s faith. Instead of calling for Yahweh’s furniture (verse 18), he trusts in Yahweh Himself (1 Samuel 14:6), knowing that Yahweh has appointed means: “by many or by few” recognizes that although Yahweh does not save by the might of His people, He has in fact ordained to save by their actions. “Few” is still a few. In this case, it is two guys and one set of weapons (which currently make up half the swords and spears of Israel!).

But Jonathan knows that the Lord wants His people to act, and uses their actions. He also knows that his daddy is a little gun-shy at the moment, which probably explains his not running the plan up the chain of command at the end of 1 Samuel 14:1. At the end of the day, Yahweh doesn’t need swords at all, and if He decides to use them, the swords of Philistine enemies and Hebrew traitors will serve nicely (cf. 1 Samuel 14:20-21).

In the final analysis, Yahweh will come Himself as a man, a King in the hardest of places, all by Himself without the assistance of even an armor bearer, at the cross. But while the atonement is completed, the Lord is still working in this world, and the followers of Jesus are like Jonathan. We trust in a Lord who uses means. We don’t have to look for signs like Jonathan did, because we have a completed Bible for our instruction. And the God who “works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure,” commands us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

So, we look not at the impossible difficulty of the circumstance, nor at the meager resources that we have in ourselves, but to Yahweh, Whom nothing can restrain. Since He saves by many or by few, we cheerfully set our forehead like flint to do what He has commanded, knowing that the outcome of the battle isn’t in doubt. In the short term, we are not presumptuous—like Jonathan, we say of any one endeavor or another, “it may be that Yahweh will work for us,” but if we do not achieve that particular outcome, still we may be sure that God makes “all things work together for good.”

After all, He has not just made us to love Him. He has also called us according to His purpose. And He will accomplish that purpose. This is a good summary statement of the operating faith of someone who holds to Romans 8:28–32, “Nothing restrains Yahweh from saving by many or by few.”
In what difficult or impossible situation do you find yourself? What does the Lord say to do in it?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

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