1 Samuel 14:4
Now there were cliffs on both sides of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost. One was named Bozez and the other Seneh.
Sermons
Difficult ExtremesPreacher's Assistant.1 Samuel 14:4
Rocks on Both SidesT. De Witt Talmage.1 Samuel 14:4
The Heroism of JonathanB. Dale 1 Samuel 14:1-15
Jonathan's Exploit At MichmashW. G. Blaikie, D. D.1 Samuel 14:1-23
Room for Services in the ChurchJ. Parker, D. D.1 Samuel 14:1-23
The Battle of MichmashThomas Champness.1 Samuel 14:1-23
The Valiant SoldierHelen Plumptre.1 Samuel 14:1-23
1 Samuel 14:1-15. (GEBA, MICHASH.)
Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised, etc. (ver. 6). The character of Jonathan is one of the bravest, most generous: devout, and blameless in history. Of his earliest years nothing is recorded. When first mentioned he was in command of a thousand soldiers (1 Samuel 13:2), and his overthrow of the Philistine garrison in Geba was the first act of the war of independence;" but (as in the case of Moses - Acts 7:25) it failed to deliver his people from oppression. His attack upon the enemy's camp at Michmash, which is here described, resulted in victory. He inherited the physical strength and courage of Saul; but in other respects presented a contrast to his father; exemplified the best, as the latter exemplified some of the worst features of the age, and set a pattern of true heroism for all time.

"What makes a hero? an heroic mind
Expressed in action, in endurance proved."

I. EXALTED ASPIRATIONS (ver. 1) which -

1. Are cherished in adverse circumstances (1 Samuel 13:22; ver. 2). Instead of being crushed by adversity, "an heroic mind" bears it patiently, rises above it, and aspires to higher things (Acts 21:13). In its midst it shines all the more brightly, like gold purified by the fire.

2. Lead to courageous projects. Jonathan often looks across the ravine between Bozez and Seneh (vers. 4, 5), and revolves in his mind how he can strike a blow at the apparently inaccessible fortress of the enemy; and at length goes forth secretly in the night or at early dawn, attended only by his armour bearer. To communicate his project to others, even if it were as yet clear to himself, would be to hinder or defeat its accomplishment. He feels called to attempt something great, and "confers not with flesh and blood."

3. Are inspired by the Divine Spirit. More of "the mind of the Lord was doubtless made known to Jonathan than to the king, notwithstanding the presence of the priest with him (ver. 3). What appears presumption to others is often to one Divinely taught the simple path of duty.

II. EMINENT FAITH (ver. 6), including -

1. A firm conviction of the covenant relation of God to his people. "These uncircumcised" in opposition to Israel. Jonathan's thought was not of himself, but of his people, and of the promises and purposes of God concerning them.

2. A lofty conception of the unlimited power of God to save them. "There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few" (2 Chronicles 14:11; Micah 2:7). In comparison with his might the strength of man, whether much or little, is nothing. He has often used "the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty" (1 Corinthians 1:27, 28), and he can do so again. Faith is shown in contemplating the power of God, and is thereby greatly increased.

3. Humble reliance on the gracious cooperation of God on their behalf. "It may be that the Lord will work for us." He is ready and able to afford help, but whether it will be given in connection with a particular course of action is, without express direction or promise, uncertain; and the indications of his will should be followed with humility, hopefulness, and confidence. "The measure of faith is the measure of God's help." "All things are possible to him that believeth."

III. PRUDENT WATCHFULNESS (vers. 9, 10).

1. In contrast to reckless adventure. Faith in God gives insight into the hidden principles and tendencies of things, teaches the adoption of appropriate means, and makes men calm as well as fearless when others lose self-control, and adopt foolish and dangerous expedients (Acts 27:25, 30).

2. In ascertaining the prospects of success. If the enemy are on the alert and exhibit courage, it will be vain to expect to take them by surprise (ver. 9); but if they feel themselves secure in their position, are careless and slack, and blinded by self-confidence, "the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel" (ver. 12).

3. In working wisely with a view to that end. God works by means, and not without them, and the wisest means are the most successful.

IV. DARING ENERGY (vers. 11-14) in -

1. Enduring great risk.

2. Putting forth immense effort. "Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees." It is a severe as well as a dangerous climb to reach the point where the conflict begins.

3. Following up every advantage to the utmost. "When he came in full view of the enemy they both discharged such a flight of arrows, stones, and pebbles from their bows, crossbows, and slings that twenty men fell at the first onset, and the garrison fled in a panic."

V. INSPIRING SYMPATHY (vers. 7, 13). A believing and heroic spirit begets the same spirit in others.

1. At first those with whom it comes into closest contact - it may be a single individual.

2. Afterwards a host (vers. 21, 22).

3. And their aid contributes to the general result. "The history of battles should teach us the mighty power of sympathetic relations."

VI. DIVINE APPROVAL.

1. Expressed in the overthrow of the enemy - bringing them into confusion (ver. 15), turning them against one another (ver. 16), and saving Israel from their oppression, as well as in the Providential ordering of all things that contributed to it.

2. In commendation of "the spirit of faith" in which the enterprise was undertaken and carried out.

3. Recognised by all the people. "He hath wrought with God this day" (ver. 45) - wrought effectually through his favour and power. The day was won by Jonathan; still more by God. "So the Lord saved Israel that day" (ver. 23). And to him the glory must be ascribed. - D.







There was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side.
The cruel army of the Philistines must be taken and scattered. There is just one man, accompanied by his bodyguard, to do that thing Jonathan is the hero of the scene. These two men, Jonathan and his bodyguard, drive back and drive down the Philistines over the rocks, and open a campaign which demolishes the enemies of Israel. I suppose that the overhanging and overshadowing rocks on either side did not baulk or dishearten Jonathan or his bodyguard, but only roused and filled them with enthusiasm as they went up. "There was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side." You have been, or are now, some of you, in this crisis of the text. If a man meets one trouble, he can go through with it. He gathers all his energies, concentrates them upon one point, and in the strength of God, or by his own natural determination, goes through it,. But the man who has trouble to the right of him, and trouble to the left of him is to be pitied. Did either trouble come alone, he might endure it. but two troubles, two disasters, two overshadowing misfortunes, are Bozez and Seneh. God pity him! "There is a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the ether side"

I. IN THIS CRISIS OF THE TEXT IS THAT MAN WHOSE FORTUNE AND HEALTH FAIL AT THE SAME TIME. Nine tenths of all our merchants capsize is business before they come to forty-five years of age. There is some collision in commercial circles, and they stop payment. When the calamity does come, if; is awful. The man goes home in despair, and he tells his family: "We'll have to go to the poor house." He takes a dolorous view of everything. It seems as if he never could rise. But a little time passes, and he says: "Why, I am not so badly off after all; I have my family left." Before the Lord turned Adam out of Paradise he gave him Eve, so that when he lost Paradise he could stand it. Well, this man of whom I am speaking looks around, and he finds his family is left, and he rallies, and the light comes to his eyes, and the smile to his face, and the courage to his heart. In two years he is quite over it. He makes his financial calamity the first chapter in a new era of prosperity. He met that one trouble — conquered it. He sat down for a little while under the grim shadow of the rock Bozez; yet he soon rose, and began, like Jonathan, to climb. But how often it is that physical ailment comes with financial embarrassment. When the fortune failed it broke the man's spirit. His nerves were shattered. His brain was stunned. I can show you hundreds of men in New York tomorrow whose fortune and health failed at the same time. Now, what is such a man to do? In the name of Almighty God, I will tell him what to do. Do as Jonathan did — climb; climb up into the sunlight of God's favour and consolation. I can go through the Churches, and shew you men who lost fortune and health at the same time, and yet who sing all day and dream of heaven all night.

II. AGAIN, THAT MAN IS IN THE CRISIS OF THE TEXT WHO HAS HOME TROUBLES AND OUTSIDE PERSECUTION AT THE SAME TIME. The world treats a man well just as long as it, pays best to treat him well. As long as it can manufacture success out of his bone, and brain, and muscle, it favours him. The world fattens the horse it wants to drive. But let a man see it his duty to cross the track of the world, then every bush is full of horns and tusks thrust at him. They will belittle him. They will caricature him. They will call his generosity self-aggrandisement, and his piety sanctimoniousness. The very worst persecution will some time come upon him from those who profess to be Christians. Now a certain amount of persecution rouses a man's defiance, stirs his blood for magnificent battle, and makes him fifty times more a man than he would have been without the persecution. So it was with Millard, the preacher, in the time of Louis XI. When Louis XI sent word to him that unless he stopped preaching in that style he would throw him into the river, he replied: "Tell the king that I will reach heaven sooner by water than he will reach it by fast horses." A certain amount of persecution is a tonic and an inspiration, but too much of it, and too long continued, becomes the rock Bozez, throwing a dark shadow over a man's life. What is he to do then? Go home, you say. Good advice, that. That is just the place for a man to go when the world abuses him. Go home. Blessed be God for our quiet and sympathetic homes. But there is many a man who has the reputation of having a home when he has none. Sometimes men have awakened to find on one side of them the rock of persecution, and on the other side the rock of domestic infelicity. What shall such an one do? Do as Jonathan did — climb. Get up into the heights of God's consolation, from which he may look down in triumph upon outside persecution and home trouble.

III. AGAIN, THAT WOMAN STANDS IN THE CRISIS OF THE TEXT, WHO HAS BEREAVEMENT AND A STRUGGLE FOR A LIVELIHOOD AT THE SAME TIME. How many women there are seated between the rock of bereavement on the one side, and the rock of destitution on the other, Bozez and Seneh interlocking their shadow and dropping them upon her miserable way. "There is a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side." What are such to do? Somehow, let them climb up into the heights of the glorious promise: "Leave thy fatherless children; I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in Me." Or get up into the heights of that other glorious promise: "The Lord preserveth the stranger and relieveth the widow and the fatherless."

IV. THAT MAN IS IN THE CRISIS OF THE TEXT WHO HAS A WASTED LIFE ON THE ONE SIDE AND AN UNILLUMINATED ETERNITY ON THE OTHER. Though a man may all his life have cultured deliberation and self-poise, if he gets into that position, all his self-possession is gone. There are all the wrong thoughts of his existence, all the wrong deeds, all the wrong words — strata above strata, granitic, ponderous, overshadowing. That rock I call Bozez. On the other side are all the retributions of the future, the thrones of judgment, the eternal ages, angry with his long defiance. That rock I call Seneh. Between these two rocks ten thousand times ten thousand have perished. O man immortal, man redeemed, man blood-bought, climb up out of those shadows! Climb up by the way of the Cross. To become a Christian is not to go meanly down; it is to come gloriously up — up into the communion of saints; up into the peace that passeth all understanding; up into the companionship of angels. He lives upward; he dies upward.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

There are critical periods in the life of man, where decision is of the utmost importance. Life and honour, or disgrace and death, are dependent on the course to be taken at such periods. If difficulties multiply, the greater decision is required. This was precisely the case with Jonathan. The approach to the garrison would have been pronounced impassable by a less decisive and less courageous mind. But nothing is too hard to accomplish, with the help of God on your side and a decided perseverance.

I. The difficult extremes of the present crisis are A SCEPTICAL SPIRIT ON ONE HAND AND A SUPERSTITIOUS SPIRIT ON THE OTHER. Infidelity and superstition are like two rocks.

1. The mind commencing an independent train of thinking, and directing its thoughts to the inquiry, "What is truth?" is met by the avowed infidel, who begins by a subtle augmentation to burden and perplex the soul.

2. On the other hand, superstition claims from the inquirer after truth implicit confidence in its priests and reliance on its ceremonies.

II. The second class of difficult extremes may be seen in THE URGENT CLAIMS ON BUSINESS AND THE TEMPTATIONS OF LEISURE.

1. The competition in business. The large portion of time and mental energy consumed in providing for "the bread that perisheth," leaves but fragments of time and mental power for the interests of the immortal soul — the less has the first claim, the greater has the second. But when the first has been answered there is little but exhaustion left.

2. The temptations of leisure are usually in the same proportion as the demands of business are exhausting. Mind and body endeavour to recruit expended energy. Then the allurement to pleasure becomes powerful.

III. The third class of difficult extremes may be seen in THE DANGER OF PRESUMPTION ON THE ONE HAND AND THE EQUAL DANGER OF DESPONDENCY ON THE OTHER.

1. Presumption sometimes so infatuates the mind as to subdue it with an entire indifference to the realities of eternity.

2. Despondency. The remedy must be prompt and decided faith. An acquaintance with the Word of God. Courageous decision in complying with its requirements. There are no rocks before the cross, though there may be one on either side.

(Preacher's Assistant.)

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