1 Samuel 14:1-15
Now it came to pass on a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man that bore his armor, Come…
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.
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.