1 Samuel 14:6
And Jonathan said to the young man that bore his armor, Come, and let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised: 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) And Jonathan said.—This companion in arms answered to the esquire of the knight of the middle ages. Gideon, Joab, David, and others of the famous Israelite warriors, were constantly accompanied in a similar manner by an armour-bearer.

Come, and let us go over.—Although in this history of the great deed of Jonathan there is no mention of the “Spirit of the Lord” having come upon him, as in the case of Gideon (Judges 6:34), Othniel (Judges 3:10), Samson, and others—who, in order to enable them to accomplish a particular act, were temporarily endowed with superhuman strength and courage and wisdom—there is no shadow of doubt but that in this case the “Spirit of the Lord” descended on the heroic son of Saul. All the circumstances connected with this event, which had so marked an influence on the fortunes of Israel, are evidently supernatural. The brave though desperate thought which suggested the attack, the courage and strength needful to carry it out, the strange panic which seized the Philistine garrison, the utter dismay which spread over the whole of the Philistine forces, and which caused them to fly in utter confusion before the small bands of Israelites, all belong to the same class of incidents so common in the earlier Hebrew story, when it is clear that the Glorious Arm of the Eternal helped them in a way it helped no other peoples.

The term “uncircumcised” is commonly applied to the Philistines, and to other of the enemies of Israel. It is used as a special term of reproach. The enmity between Philistia and Israel lasted over a long period, and was very bitter.

It may be that the Lord will work for us.—These words explain the apparent recklessness of Jonathan’s attempt. It was Another who would fight the armed garrison on those tall peaks opposite, and bring him safely back to his people again.

For there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.—“O Divine power of faith, which makes a man more than men. The question is not what Jonathan can do, but what God can do, whose power is not in the means, but in Himself. There is no restraint in the Lord to save by many or by few. O admirable faith in Jonathan, whom neither the steepness of the rocks nor multitude of enemies can dissuade from such an assault.”—Bishop Hall.

1 Samuel 14:6. The garrison of these uncircumcised — So he calls them, to strengthen his faith by this consideration, that his enemies were enemies to God; whereas he was circumcised, and therefore in covenant with God, who was both able and engaged to assist his people. It may be — He speaks doubtfully; for though he felt himself stirred up by God to this exploit, and was assured that God would deliver his people, yet he was not certain that he would do it at this time, and in this way. That the Lord will work — Great and wonderful things. There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or few — From this it appears that Jonathan had a true faith in the power of God, being fully persuaded that he could do every thing, and needed not the help or co-operation of natural causes.14:1-15 Saul seems to have been quite at a loss, and unable to help himself. Those can never think themselves safe who see themselves out of God's protection. Now he sent for a priest and the ark. He hopes to make up matters with the Almighty by a partial reformation, as many do whose hearts are unhumbled and unchanged. Many love to have ministers who prophesy smooth things to them. Jonathan felt a Divine impulse and impression, putting him upon this bold adventure. God will direct the steps of those that acknowledge him in all their ways, and seek to him for direction, with full purpose of heart to follow his guidance. Sometimes we find most comfort in that which is least our own doing, and into which we have been led by the unexpected but well-observed turns of Divine providence. There was trembling in the host. It is called a trembling of God, signifying, not only a great trembling they could not resist, nor reason themselves out of, but that it came at once from the hand of God. He that made the heart, knows how to make it tremble.It is remarkable that the epithet "uncircumcised," used as a term of reproach, is confined almost exclusively to the Philistines. (Compare 1 Samuel 17:26, 1 Samuel 17:36; Judges 14:3; Judges 15:18, etc.) This is probably an indication of the long oppression of the Israelites by the Philistines and of their frequent wars. 6. it may be that the Lord will work for us—This expression did not imply a doubt; it signified simply that the object he aimed at was not in his own power—but it depended upon God—and that he expected success neither from his own strength nor his own merit. These uncircumcised; so he calls them, partly in contempt, and principally to strengthen his faith by this consideration, that his enemies were enemies to God, and without any hope in God, or help from him; whereas he was circumcised, and therefore in covenant with God, who was both able and engaged to assist his people.

It may be; he speaks doubtfully; for though he found and felt himself stirred up by God to this exploit, and was assured that God would deliver his people, yet he was not certain that he would do it at this time, and in this way.

The Lord will work, to wit, great and wonderful things.

There is no restraint to the Lord; there is no person nor thing which can hinder God from thus doing. And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour,.... A second time, as Abarbinel thinks; the young man giving no answer to him the first time, perhaps through fear, he repeats it, and enlarges upon it for his encouragement:

come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised; as these Philistines were, whereas several of the other nations, though Heathen, were circumcised; as the Edomites, Arabians, and others; and this Jonathan observes to the young man, in hope that they being such the Lord would deliver them into their hand:

it may be that the Lord will work for us; a sign, as the Targum, a miracle, as indeed he did; and of which Jonathan was persuaded in his own mind, though he did not choose to express himself in a confident way; not knowing in what manner, and whether at this time the Lord would appear, and work salvation and deliverance; and yet had a strong impulse upon his mind it would be wrought, and therefore was encouraged to try this expedient:

for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few; he is not limited to numbers, and can easily work salvation by a few as by many. It is no difficult thing to him to save by few, nor can anything hinder him, let the difficulties be what they will, when he has determined to deliver his people.

And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these {b} uncircumcised: 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.

(b) That is, the Philistines.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. these uncircumcised] A frequent epithet of abhorrence for the Philistines. Here it has a special significance, for it indicates that Jonathan’s hope of success was based on the reflection that the Philistines stood in no covenant-relation to Jehovah, as Israel did.

there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few] See ch. 1 Samuel 17:46-47; Jdg 7:4; Jdg 7:7; 2 Chronicles 14:11, and the noble words of Judas Maccabaeus before the battle of Beth-horon (1Ma 3:16-21): “With the God of heaven it is all one to deliver with a great multitude or with a small company; for the victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven.” These were among the heroes who “through faith waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:34).Verse 6. - Uncircumcised. An epithet of dislike almost confined to the Philistines. But underneath the whole speech of Jonathan lies the conviction of the covenant relation of Israel to Jehovah, of which circumcision was the outward sign. Notice also Jonathan's humble reliance upon God. It may be that Jehovah will work for us, etc. 1 Samuel 13:23 forms the transition to the heroic act of Jonathan described in 1 Samuel 14.: "An outpost of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash;" i.e., the Philistines pushed forward a company of soldiers to the pass (מעבר, the crossing place) of Michmash, to prevent an attack being made by the Israelites upon their camp. Between Geba and Michmash there runs the great deep Wady es Suweinit, which goes down from Beitin and Bireh (Bethel and Beeroth) to the valley of the Jordan, and intersects the ridge upon which the two places are situated, so that the sides of the wady form very precipitous walls. When Robinson was travelling from Jeba to Mukhmas he had to go down a very steep and rugged path into this deep wady (Pal. ii. p. 116). "The way," he says in his Biblical Researches, p. 289, "was so steep, and the rocky steps so high, that we were compelled to dismount; while the baggage mules got along with great difficulty. Here, where we crossed, several short side wadys came in from the south-west and north-west. The ridges between these terminate in elevating points projecting into the great wady; and the most easterly of these bluffs on each side were probably the outposts of the two garrisons of Israel and the Philistines. The road passes around the eastern side of the southern hill, the post of Israel, and then strikes up over the western part of the northern one, the post of the Philistines, and the scene of Jonathan's adventure."
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