For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few. (1 Samuel 14:6) Do you know who coined that phrase? A man who was getting ready to take on an entire army, accompanied only by “the young man carrying his armor”.
His name was Jonathan. He was the son of a King. The Bible lays out for us the major events in the story, but leaves out a lot of little details. Like — what prompted Jonathan to suddenly turn to “the young man carrying his armor” and say, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised Philistines; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few”? I’ve come up with my own version of what prompted this outburst. Would you like to hear it?
I think Jonathan was back at camp, sitting around the fire. It was the end of a long, weary day of travel. The other soldiers were milling around the camp. Did you see the Philistines? There’s no way we can take them. There are thousands of them. There are only a few hundred of us. Jonathan’s heard the same grumbling all day long. He’s learned to shut it out, but this time he lets it get to him. Anger and dissatisfaction burn in his heart — not towards the men, but towards the cowardice, fearful attitude that’s crept into them. He props his feet up and leans back against a tree. He stares into the fire. He thinks of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — the One he serves. You aren’t weak, LORD. You aren’t threatened by those who defy You, who serve idols made of wood and stone. You don’t tremble at a thousand feeble, godless men beating their drums and raising their swords. He pauses and reminds himself of his best friend. A shepherd boy defeated the giant that taunted Your troops day and night — because You, the God of creation, was with him. Jonathan’s eyes narrow and he stares deeper into the fire. Then he looks away. Standing back against the tree, a twenty yards away, is his armor bearer. Jonathan gets up and walks his way. I have an idea, he whispers, then keeps walking, away from the soldiers, away from the bright fire, and into the dark forest. The armor bearer follows. When they reach the clearing, Jonathan stops.
This is where we collide with the story written about in the Bible. Jonathan says to his armor bearer: “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on yonder side.” The Bible makes it clear that Jonathan did not tell his father, King Saul, where he was going.
Jonathan and his armor bearer travel a great distance towards the Philistines’ garrison. It’s at this point that Jonathan lets his faithful companion in on his great idea. “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised Philistines; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.”
Now, catch the armor bearer’s reply. It’s astounding. “And his armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.” I think someone should write a story about this armor bearer someday.
When they reach the garrison, Jonathan leans over and tells the armor bearer the game plan. Let’s cross over until they can see us. Once they see us, if they say “Wait until we come down to you”, we’ll know it’s not God and we won’t attack. But, if instead, they say to us, “Come up here,” we will go up, for it will be a sign from God that He has given them into our hands.
When the Philistines see the two men, they say, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they’ve been hiding in.” Then they say, “Come up here so we can tell you something.”
Jonathan leans over to his armor bearer, “There’s our sign! Come up after me, for the LORD has given them into the hands of Israel.” The two climb up the hill on their hands and knees (a very poor military strategy). When they reached the Philistines, the Bible says that the men fell before Jonathan and the armor bearer killed them.
The earth began to tremble, and in the field and among the people, even the garrison and raiders trembled. There was great confusion among the troops and they turned against each other, striking each other dead.
The story concludes in verse 23, by saying: “So the LORD delivered Israel that day.”
Yes, He most certainly did. I’d like to read the headline in the newspaper on this one. TWO MEN TAKE ON ENTIRE ARMY AND WIN.
What army do you want to take on today? And let’s not pick an enemy we could easily defeat on our own. I like this story because it’s not logical or feasible or possible in human standards.
What’s it going to be, my friend?