Personal Faith

By on January 24, 2015

“Personal Faith”
1Samuel 14:1-46

October 14, 2007
by C.W. Powell

I will read this morning the first 46 verses of the book of 1Samuel 14. I will pause in the reading to make certain comments about what we have read and then I will make some applications that will serve you well, I think. It is important that we understand these things, for this is an inspirational and invigorating portion of God’s word, and we should rejoice in the exploits of God in days gone by.

I. The Challenge of Jonathan and His Armor-bearer to the Philistines.
1Samuel 14:1-10:

“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. 2 And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men; 3 And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone. 4 And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah. 6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. 7 And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. 8 Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. 9 If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. 10 But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.

A. The first thing to notice is the contrast between Jonathan and his father, the king.

1. The contrast between the two persons:

a. Saul is with 600 men, the remnant of this 2000. They are overcome by fear; Saul is agitated that Samuel has not come. He fears that he can do nothing until the sacrifice is offered and the proper ceremonies observed.

b. Jonathan has his armorbearer and faith in God

c. Saul has gathered about him a corrupt religious establishment, with the vestiges of authority, but no blessings from God.

d. Jonathan has his armorbearer and the blessing of God upon his work.

e. There is boldness and confidence in faith; dithering and indecision is not faith. But if you surround yourself with weak and unbelieving men, what can you expect? Look at this crowd around Saul: 3 And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. Better perhaps to say, the son of the Eli, the dead priest in Shiloh, disgraced, dead, disenfranchised. What a sad story. “Ahiah” the grandson of Phinehas who had been slain by the Philistines when they captured the ark of God. “Ahiah” the rump of a decaying family who holds on to a glory that was his great-grandfather’s, Eli, who was the priest of God. I don’t know whether the phrase “wearing an ephod” refers to Eli or to Ahiah, but either way Ahiah’s only claim was the outer trapping, the costume of a priest. But such sycophants always gather around what they perceive is the place of power; everyone thinks they legitimatize each other, and flatter and pump each other up—and run away when the enemy appears. Ahiah knew the word of the Lord that had come to Samuel about the house of Eli; he knew what had happened to Hophni and Phinehas, but he is willing to bask in the glory of a dead and departed great-grandfather. He should not have gone to Saul to strut around in the holy ephod when it was just a vain and empty show. Better if he had gone home to Shilo and grown some wheat to milked some cows. We will see later that Abiathar, who was perhaps the son of Ahiah or perhaps Abiathar himself, comes to David after the death of the priests at Nob.

2. The contrast in their faithful activity.

a. Jonathan is moved by God to seek an occasion against the Philistines, and he goes out looking for them.

b. Saul dithers and stews. Just because he is forbidden to offer sacrifices does not mean that he cannot do anything. Jonathan did not wait to offer sacrifices. Who said you had to offer sacrifices before you did the work God called you to do?

c. Jonathan is old school. His excursion looks more like something that would have happened under the Judges, say Samson, than under the new order of the kingdom. It as if God is reminding Israel—Look, I have you a king, but that doesn’t mean I surrendered MY kingdom. I can do as I please, and I will move Jonathan to great valor, to show you that you really didn’t need a king, because I am your king. Now you are all mixed up with questions of proticol, authority, precedent and your hearts are filled with fear; but even so, I am with you, I love you, and I have not forsaken you, even though you have turned aside from me. Someday I will send you a real king, a man after my own heart. Until then, be still and know that I am God. You are going to have a great deal of sorrow and trouble with your king and some horrible sins will be committed by him, but I have not forsaken you, although he is a king of vanity and silliness.

d. Jonathan’s faith:

(1). In the attributes of God: “It is nothing for the Lord to save by many or by few.”

(2). His submission to God: “It may be that the LORD will work for us.” No self-confidence or tempting of the Lord. The sign “If they invite us to come up to them” Jonathan was moved by the spirit in this, and the aftermath shows. There was some reason in the sign that Jonathan proposed, for “come to us” would signify cowardice, a hope that battle could be avoide, that the issue of whether to fight would decided by Jonathan rather than the Philistines, not an unreasonable proposal.

(3). God chooses his own instruments: this is a message to the people of Israel and to Saul the king. God did not surrender His power to do as He pleases in spite of the king God had given to them.

II. The Outstanding and Incredible Victory of Jonathan over the Philistines.
1Samuel 14:11-16:

And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. 12 And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. 13 And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him. 14 And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. 15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling. 16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.

A. We see the arrogance of the Philistines: This arrogance would prove their undoing.

1. The wicked are most in danger when they are strong, rich, arrogant, and in command of earthly power and when God’s people are weak and poor and few, but are strong in faith. The proud always despise and look down upon the faithful. Be assured of this.

2. God rejoices in humbling the pride of the wicked and showing Himself strong in behalf of those whose heart is right with him.

B. The death of twenty by the hands of Jonathan and his armorbearer, fear came upon the whole host of the Philistines—as the sand of the sea, you remember—there was an earthquake, and the Philistines fled and killed each other in the panic.

C. It is not the iron in the hand that counts; it is the iron in the heart, and only God can give this. A great victory was won that day by Jonathan, while Saul dithers the time away. The true work of God was not being done by Israel’s king and his retinue. This is the emphatic lesson of this account

III. Saul’s Silliness and Continued Dithering.
1Samuel 14:17-19:

Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there. 18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel. 19 And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.

A. His continued concern for protocol and appearance.

B. Saul is concerned about who was missing from his group, which means probably that Jonathan’s band of 1000 had been disbanded because of desertions and the 600 was what was left of the original 3000, but such things do not need to be known. At any rate, the roll is taken, and Jonathan and his armorbearer are found missing.

C. “Ark,” I think, means the ephod, which owed its authority and virtue to the ark. The ark itself was probably not with Saul in the field of battle, but still resided at Kirjath-jearam.

D. Saul would begin to ask of the Lord, but the noise of the battle was so great that he left off the enquiry. There is no fixed purpose in Saul, but a running around like a chicken with his head cut off—not a leader to inspire respect, with no fixed compass and no iron determination except that which involves his own reputation before the people.

IV. The Silly Oath of Saul, who is Pretending Leadership.
1Samuel 14:20-38:

And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. 21 Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle. 23 So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven. 24 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food. 25 And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground. 26 And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened. 28 Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food this day. And the people were faint. 29 Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines? 31 And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint. 32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day. 34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there. 35 And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD. 36 And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God. 37 And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day. 38 And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day.

A. Poor leadership, when it makes decisions, usually makes it that much harder for God’s people to fulfill their mission.

1. Because they do not know what they are dong and flounder around without a fixed compass or knowledge of the true God, simply make things worse and not better, so that the mission is turned aside.

2. It was a silly curse that Saul put concerning eating anything that day, as if soldiers could do their job without eating.

3. Jonathan was out killing Philistines, not playing religious games, so he didn’t hear the curse, as the account states.

4. Also, the very curse of Saul, led to the ceremonial transgression with regard to the eating of the blood. Of course that was a transgression of the ceremony, but the fault was Saul’s. But he pretends great offense over the people’s ceremonial sacrilege.

B. Saul built an altar, the first that he ever had built, to enquire of the Lord, but when the Lord did not answer him, he abandoned it, and went on down to the battle. The corrupt priesthood could not get an answer from the Lord so Saul was left to his own devices, which became more and more corrupt. God will not serve the sins and the ambitions of men.

V. The wicked blame-shifting of Saul, and the Deliverance of Jonathan by the People.
1Samuel 14:39-46:

39 For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him. 40 Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee. 41 Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped. 42 And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken. 43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die. 44 And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan. 45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not. 46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place.

A. Where there is no true regard for God, there is always great pretenses of zeal, foolish and misdirect though it be.

B. Blind to his own sin, Saul seeks a scapegoat, as to who had transgress and disobeyed the rightful authority of the king. This time, God directed the lot, as if to expose Saul’s folly

C. Was this the first rising of that jealous temperment that would become so evident later in Saul? I think so, and only the intervention of the voice of the people delivered Saul from horrible transgression in the murder of his son over a thing of nothing.

D. But neither Saul nor Jonathan would forget this day, perhaps. Jonathan could not respect nor trust his father, and Saul would not trust Jonathan.


1. True leadership in the things of God is derived not from ambition and vanity, but from a firm personal faith in God and a knowledge of the nature and attributes of God.

2. True leadership does not consist in the trappings of ceremonies and vain rhetoric and threats and boastings, but in the singleness of heart and conviction that trusts in God and walks with Him and obeys His commandments.

3. What tragedies the futures will hold for Israel in terms of the king they demanded from the Lord. But the tragedies would prepare them for David, the man after God’s own heart, who would be the figure of the true Lord and King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

4. The Lord Jesus would deliver His people from their true tyrant and oppressor, the sin in their hearts that delivered them over to the power of the devil. Having removed the guilt and curse by the sacrifice of Himself to the justice and wrath of God, Jesus Christ sets us free from that guilt so we can serve him without fear all the days of our life.

5. There are no kings in the church of Jesus Christ, but we are all called to be prophets, kings, and priests under the authority of our Lord in heaven.

May God bless you.

Amen and Amen

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