Summary: A crisis is a test. It reveals our attitude towards God and faith in Him. What is the posture of your heart?
Saul showed an unwillingness to trust God. This sounds odd at first. Why would anyone not trust God?
• If we think of our own experience, then we can understand. It could be pride (we think we know best), freedom (I like to do what I like), pleasure (I want some fun), or fear (sacrifices are involved)…
• Faith in God needs to be cultivated. Trust don’t come overnight. And it starts with the posture of your heart – Are we willing to trust God?
I find Saul and his son Jonathan exhibiting two different postures towards God.
• Saul is self-centred and fearful of many things; he’s looking at himself.
• Jonathan is willing to look to God. He may not be sure of all the answers, but he is willing to learn to trust God.
We saw that last week. Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost with his armour-bearer.
• Saul was at Micmash and he at Gibeah, and they were facing the same problem.
• But Saul chose to sit under a pomegranate tree and do nothing, while Jonathan decided to trust God and do what he can.
How do we know that Jonathan is not just being presumptuous?
• In his conversation with his armour-bearer, we see the words “THE LORD” being mentioned again and again.
• 1 Sam 14:6 Jonathan said to his young armour-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. PERHAPS THE LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder THE LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.”
• When they reached the valley, 1 Sam 14:8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that THE LORD given them into our hands.” (It’s like Gideon’s fleece test…)
• The Philistines called them to come over, so Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, “Climb up after me; THE LORD has given them into the hand of Israel.” (14:12b)
He did not say I AM RIGHT! It’s the LORD who will help us win this war.
• We cannot be certain of any of these attempts, but this one thing Jonathan was sure, God is present and He is willing to help them.
• There are many things we are not certain in life, but are we WILLING to trust Him. What is the attitude of our heart towards God?
Indeed, God responded to Jonathan’s faith in Him. 14:15 “Then panic struck the whole army — those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties — and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.”
Saul heard the news, got to the place and saw the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords.
• 14:23 concludes saying, “So on that day the Lord saved Israel.”
• God acted in response to the faith of someone who is willing to TRUST Him.
Saul showed little willingness to trust God, despite his past experiences with God.
• Not that he doesn’t know God and had no experience of God’s acts in his life.
• So far in his dialogues, we see no mention of God’s role in his life. In fact, he is more concerned about himself.
[Read 1 Sam 14:24-35]
At the height of the war, Saul issued a command - 14:24 Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, "Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!" So none of the troops tasted food.
• It was a foolish decision, even Jonathan acknowledged that it was bad.
• How can you fight a war with your troops not eating? Why did he do it? He wanted victory badly! “I want to avenge myself on my enemies!”
It’s not so much for God or even for Israel, but for himself.
• We see this attitude again in 1 Sam 15 when they fought the Amalekites and won. Saul “set up a monument in his own honour.” (15:12)
At the end of the day, the troops were so hungry they butchered the plunder and ate them, without draining the blood (which is against the Law of Moses).
• SOMEONE had to tell Saul, “Look, the men are sinning against God by eating meat with blood” (14:33).
• Saul quickly builds an altar - not out of devotion to God - but to get the job done. The altar is a quick fix.