Summary: Jonathan and his armor bearer were just a few men of faith who, with God’s help, put the army of the Philistines to flight. We need more men and women with that kind of faith.
JUST A FEW MEN OF FAITH
By Pastor Jim May
Saul was king in Israel and Israel was at war with the Philistines. Jonathan, Saul’s son had led an army that attacked the Philistines and destroyed a garrison of soldiers. Of course, that only served to anger the Philistines even more and they had returned to avenge the attack of Jonathan. With a mighty force they invaded the land of Israel. The scripture says that the Philistine force was made up of 30,000 chariots, and 6000 cavalry, and infantry soldiers that were as numerous as the sands of the seashore. Nothing could stand before them. All that Saul could do was to fight a series of delaying actions and hope that the Philistines would eventually give up and go home, but that just didn’t happen.
After a series of unsuccessful attempts to drive away the Philistines, Saul’s army is now down to only 600 men against the might of this powerful invading army. It’s no surprise that we see King Saul hiding in the farthest place that he could find to get away from the enemy. He was camped out, probably in a fortified position on the opposite side of his kingdom than where the Philistines were.
Saul had taken matters into his own hands, doing what he thought was necessary. He knew that he needed an answer from God, and even though Samuel had said that he would be at Gilgal in seven days, Saul just couldn’t wait that long.
So he did what most of us would do in a situation where we think that God is just taking a little too long to answer our need. Saul decided to try to force God to give him the answers he needed.
Saul knew that God would require a sacrifice of worship, so Saul assumed the position of a priest of Israel and made a burnt offering unto the Lord. He thought that he had it all figured out. He could wait no longer. He had to have an answer right now.
No sooner had the burnt sacrifice been offered and here came Samuel walking into the camp to discover that Saul had sinned against God. Now, Saul’s disobedience and disregard for God’s laws, and his impatience and mistrust of the God of Israel, would be his downfall.
Samuel relayed God’s message to Saul – your kingdom is coming to an end and your throne will belong to another. God had found a man after His own heart, a man called David.
1 Samuel chapter 13 tells us that the Philistines sent three companies of soldiers. Each group of soldier went in a different direction and invaded the towns and villages of the Israelites, not to kill them, but to capture and stop the work of every blacksmith in Israel.
Why would they do such a thing – to stop the manufacturing and distribution of weapons of war, especially swords? Without swords and spears, the army of Israel would be no threat to the Philistines. Their tactics were so effective that the Bible says that only King Saul, and his son Jonathan, had a sword, in the whole camp of Israel.
When you consider the fact the Philistines had 30,000 chariots (the equivalent of modern day tanks and armored vehicles) and Israel only had two swords (the equivalent of two rifles), there just wasn’t much chance for King Saul to defeat the Philistines.
If you can’t run from the enemy and let him have everything, and you don’t have the power to stop him, what else can you do but hide out somewhere. That’s just what Saul was doing. He was camped out, under the shade of a pomegranate tree, holding the only sword in the army, surrounded by 600 unarmed soldiers, and every one of them was terrified of what would happen next. There was no faith in an Almighty God in that camp. There was no trust in the miracle working power of God. And now, they even presumed to make burnt sacrifices when only the prophet or the priests of Israel were allowed to do so according to the Law of Moses.
I want to tell you that this scenario, of King Saul, who was supposed to be God’s chosen man for the hour, hiding out in fear, along with all of the helpless army of Israel, reminds me of the condition of the modern church.
I look around and I don’t see any real spiritual warfare being won. Most Christians just cower in fear in their own little world and try to follow the leading of a man who has lost touch with God. The modern church is powerless to resist the devil so he just walks right into the church, takes away the desire and the ability of most of God’s people to pray, and steals their knowledge of the Word of God, and then leaves them with no weapons to fight the spiritual warfare. Most of the church is afraid to stand up to the devil so they just fight a place to “play church”.