The word I have from God is, “Be still and know that I am God”.
”In a world in tumult, when the general tempo is rush and restlessness, where everyone seeks instant answers, it is time to take stock, to be still and ask yourself ‘who are you trusting in? Are you looking to the world to give you the answers to your questions? Are you in disarray when everything does not work out exactly as you planned it?’ When you find yourself waiting and unable to change things, waiting on answers, waiting for things to happen, then it is time to be still and with My help, clean the slate of your mind and focus on me and my total Providence over the world, Over all around you and especially on you and your loved ones. Allow My word to suffuse into your mind and heart and become the great resting place for your mind and soul. You have trusted me to here and I have never failed you, so once again place your full trust in Me.“
As we ended Ch 13 in 1 Samuel, Israel was in disarray. No-one, except Saul and Jonathan had weapons. The Philistines were on their doorstep and aggressive. ‘What was going to happen to them?’ Is the question hanging in the air. At the beginning of ch 14 a little story unfolds, a story as astounding as David’s confrontation of Goliath, but not known as well as his.
Between the Israelites and the Philistines was a pass and in this pass were two precipitous cliffs called Bozez and Seneh. (14:4) Geography will tell that they were very steep and difficult to climb. Above the cliffs on the mountain was a Philistine outpost. The story does not exactly reveal Jonathan’s plan to us, except that, as he stood beneath the cliff he indicated that he was trusting the Lord to save.
“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few,” (14:6c) is his thinking and revealed to us in what he says to his armour-bearer and companion. Feeling guided by the Lord they scale the cliff. Arriving at the top they must have found the Philistine outpost relaxed in the false security of their position, without their arms at hand. In no time Jonathan and his armour-bearer kill 20 men.
This action sends a panic wave over the Philistine army and they are routed. Note 14:15c “It was a panic from God”. Let us stop there and consider. This act was any time as impossible as David’s facing Goliath, which we will read about later. So although the way it is written does not tell us this exactly, it is an example of someone trusting completely on God’s ability to act and save. And acting upon that God honours that. It is also an act not focused on Jonathan himself, but on doing something in an impossible situation to save a whole nation.
What follows is a comparison between the trust of Jonathan and his bravery and the bungling of King Saul as he tries to capitalize on the panic of the Philistines. He calls for the ark then tells the priest to back off (withdraw his hand), as he probably changes his mind. The ark here was simply a superstitious desire to get God to act further.
However 14:23 makes it clear that it is “the Lord that rescued Israel that day“.
It then appears that Saul, in a further superstitious religious act decides to call the whole army to fast as the battle continues. The consequences of this foolish superstitious act are dire and Jonathan the actual hero is almost put to death. The rest of the chapter is a summary of Saul’s family and rule and could have been given elsewhere.
The main message of the chapter is that God put the Israelites into an impossible position in a battle situation, to cause them to turn and call on Him for help. Jonathan shows his trust in the Lord and the Lord rescues Israel. Saul is clearly outside the line making one mistake after the other. Surely not trusting God in a personal way.
This chapter was a stark reminder to me of the two realities of our Christian walk. In His process of building our faith God regularly allows us to be in a situation where we are actually powerless to bring a result. This causes us to turn to Him in trust and dependence. Often keeping us waiting for the answer which deepens our awareness of our helplessness and dependence on Him. Ultimately when He does respond it is often not even in the way we expect, but is a great encouragement to our trust in Him and is one of the usual ways God builds our trust in Him. In reading a passage like this we are reminded of His dependability over all the years as well as in our own lives.
May the Lord bless you and give you peace when you are facing trials, especially now as we approach Christmas.