1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan said to the young man bearing his armor, "Come, let us cross over to the outpost of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the LORD will work on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few."
Divine and Human CooperationChristian Commonwealth1 Samuel 14:6
God and We1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan's FaithMetropolitan Pulpit1 Samuel 14:6
Strength in Quiet AssuranceE. P. Thwing.1 Samuel 14:6
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."


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."


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 is no restraint to the Lord, to save by many or by few.
Metropolitan Pulpit.
1. This faith of Jonathan was reasonable. Some think faith mere assumption, or the result of ignorance. It is not so. Faith rests on reason. We know we can do nothing of ourselves in an emergency like that which had overtaken the children of Israel. We know God has infinite power, and He has said that He will help those who trust Him. He has the power and He is willing, then is it not in reason to trust Him?

2. Jonathan believed that it was the height of wisdom to give God the opportunity to reveal His mighty arm. God needs our faith. God is necessary to us, and we, in a sense, are necessary to God. We need God that we may have ground for our faith, and He needs our faith to call out His help. We trust too much in ourselves. Said one to me, "the churches are growing so weak." I would to God that they were weak enough to lean on God. I do not doubt that there are church members who can get up at five o'clock, swing in and out with the multitude at Moody and Sankey's meetings, but how few are willing to go up alone against the Philistines. There is an inspiration in a multitude, but it is not always the inspiration that comes through faith in God. The Philistines commenced slaying each other. So it often is when God comes down to help the Church, sinners assist the work in their confusion. Then the Israelites who had hid in caves, when they saw that the army of the Philistines had met disaster, helped on the victory. When God manifests His power, backsliders return. Every man can do something in the Church's work.

3. Remember, lastly, that if such faith and such labour glorified God, then they can do it again. Is the Church in straitened circumstances? Are the enemies clamorous? There is need of the faith of Jonathan and of his armour bearer. Give God an opportunity, by trusting in Him, to reveal His strength. Defeat comes through a lack of faith. Let no one's heart be faint.

(Metropolitan Pulpit.)

Richter says that we should all "make as much of ourselves as can be made out of the stuff." The stuff we are made of may be particularly poor, for we know that we have been able to make little or nothing out of it. Suppose we take it to its Maker and ask Him to do something with it? On the keystone of a bridge over a stream in a beautiful Scotch parish are the words, "God and We," teaching all who read them that nothing can be built without the help of the great Architect. It is so with the edification or building up of ourselves. It is not "God alone," which would mean human idleness; or "We" alone, which would mean human presumption; or "We and God," which would be almost blasphemy; but "God and We."

Christian Commonwealth.
We may often be cheered by this recollection of a beautiful reciprocity in things human and Divine. If God promises His unfailing help to us. He has also conditioned much of the success of His cause on our help rendered to it. Sun, moon, and stars are mutual helpers in sustaining the equilibrium of Nature's forces. When the earth, sun, and moon join their attractions in a right line the tides rise to the full; but when these worlds exert their forces at right angles then the tides sink to their lowest. So when we place ourselves in the right attitude of harmony with the Divine powers, then we exert the most beneficent influence. The Divine Spirit is the great and all-sufficient source of help for human souls. Science gives us a beautiful illustration. A strong man cannot very long hold up a heavy weight. His arm grows weary and he feels weak. But if a current from a magnetic battery or an electric machine be applied to the tired arm the muscles instantly regain strength, and the weight is held up with ease. So it is with the invisible current of the Divine power of the Spirit applied to our weary souls.

(Christian Commonwealth.)

Pelopidas, when informed that the number of the enemy was double that of his own army, replied: "So much the better. We shall conquer so many the more." His intelligent self-possession was more than a thousand spears. The battle of Gilboa was lost before Saul began it. "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

(E. P. Thwing.)

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