The Philistines’ well-supplied army dominated Canaan, conducting raids at will.
And they enforced a monopoly on that era’s advanced technology: iron blacksmithing.
No wonder King Saul’s badly outnumbered, demoralized troops were stalled in defensive position at Gibeah, making no effort to retake the Philistine-controlled Micmash pass.
Interact with God’s Word: 1 Samuel 14:1-16, 1 Samuel 14:20-22
- In the Israel/Philistine face-off (see 1 Samuel 13:5, 15, 22) what were the human odds?
- How did Jonathan view these odds (v. 6)?
- Why do you think Jonathan didn’t alert his father to his plans?
- How did Jonathan allow for God to abort this thrust if it wasn’t in His will (vv. 8-10)?
- What exertions were required of Jonathan and his armor bearer (vv.13-14)?
- How did God turn a skirmish upset into the route of an entire army (v. 15)?
- How did Jonathan’s initiative motivate his fellow Israelites (vv. 20-22)?
- What overwhelming odds do you think need turning around in our society?
- What counter-measures could you take for starters? What resources could you commit to this venture?
Spend Time in Prayer: Ask God to give you the courage to tackle a daunting problem, using your efforts to trigger events leading to victory.
1 Samuel 14:1-16, 20-22
1 One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing. 2 Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron. 3 Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord who had served at Shiloh. No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp.
4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh. 5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba. 6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.” 8 “All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them.
10 But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.” 11 When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!” 12 Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!” “Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the Lord will help us defeat them!”
13 So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them. 14 They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre. 15 Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified. 16 Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin saw a strange sight—the vast army of Philistines began to melt away in every direction.
20 Then Saul and all his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other. There was terrible confusion everywhere. 21 Even the Hebrews who had previously gone over to the Philistine army revolted and joined in with Saul, Jonathan, and the rest of the Israelites. 22 Likewise, the men of Israel who were hiding in the hill country of Ephraim joined the chase when they saw the Philistines running away.
Prayer for the Week: I’m available, Lord, for any assignment. Use me to make a difference in Your Kingdom.