1 Samuel 14:1-23
Now it came to pass on a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man that bore his armor, Come…
These were evil days for the people of Israel. But it was in these dark days that Jonathan shone so famous. It is yet true that difficulties prove our mettle, and that the greater the hardship or peril, the more is the victory worth telling.
I. THE PRESENCE OF THE ENEMY SHOULD ROUSE OUR COURAGE. Is there not need for more chivalry among the soldiers of Christ? How sin lords it over us, even in England. Intemperance, lust, cruelty, ignorance, are the enemies of our ]and; and they do almost as they like; they are slaying our people, starving our children, dishonouring our women. Think, for instance, of the history of one gin palace Where are our Jonathans? If we could not tolerate the presence of an invading foe how can we bear to see the arrogance and cruelty of the enemies of Jesus Christ in this so-called Christian land? It was Jonathan who conceived the plan of attacking the Philistines; which leads us to say — princes should set the example. Officers, to the front. Have you wealth? — use it as becomes a prince of God. Have you learning? — use it to slay ignorance. How the example of Lord Shaftesbury has animated weaker men, and made them feel like the armour bearer of Jonathan
II. It is true that EARNEST LEADERS SHOULD NOT LACK BRAVE FOLLOWERS. We are not told the name of the young man who was Jonathan's armour bearer, but he was worthy of the situation. Listen to him: "Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart." As if he had said, "Look at me; do I look like flinching? If thou art first, I will be second! I am ready to follow thy lead: thou canst not go where I will not be close behind." If Jesus Christ could only have a Church like that armour bearer, how soon the victory would be ours! And it is yet true that the best of leaders is all the better for the knowledge that his followers will not fail him. Let those of us whose place is not to lead, yet help our commander by acting, so that whenever he looks at us he will see our faces say, "I am with thee according to thy heart."
III. Jonathan knew that GOD CAN WIN BY A MINORITY. He said to his companion, "There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few." He remembered that God had promised, "One shall chase a thousand, two put ten thousand to flight." If, in fighting the Lord's battles, we wait till we outnumber the foe, we shall never "do exploits." Joshua and Caleb were outvoted, but they said, "Let us go up at once and possess it." The twelve apostles did not wait, but, in the teeth of the Sanhedrim, preached "Jesus and the resurrection." At one time John Wesley was almost the only clergyman who dared the rotten eggs of the Philistines of his day, and now he and his brother have a monument in Westminster Abbey!
IV. AT THE BATTLE OF MICHMASH, WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT THAT GOD HELPS THEM WHO HELP THEMSELVES. God worked with the brave men who had gone alone. This "trembling of God," as it is called in the margin, struck a panic into the hearts of the Philistines. This might have happened if Jonathan had not gone up, but most likely not. God works yet by means, and delights in cooperating with His people. If you want God to help you, help yourself. Climb up the hill in spite of Philistinic sneers, and when you are at the top, the earth shall quake. You will not be alone very long. Saul brought his army after the brave pair had gone alone, and the number of Saul's people increased directly, as you read in verses 21, 22. The enslaved Hebrews rose against their masters, and these also who had hid themselves. "So the Lord saved Israel that day."
Parallel VersesKJV: Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
WEB: Now it fell on a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, "Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side." But he didn't tell his father.