Jonathan was the eldest of King Saul’s five sons. We are introduced to him when Saul became King. Saul commanded 2000 men and Jonathan looked after 1000 in Gibeah, Saul’s hometown.
From the ensuing evidence it is most likely that Saul appointed Jonathan to lead the troops because he saw in Jonathan the qualities required of a leader rather than because of any nepotism.
Saul would not have entrusted a third of his elite soldiers to anyone who had not proven himself suitable – both in military strategy and in loyalty to the King.
Jonathan chose to be a soldier. He wanted to ensure that his homeland was protected from the enemy and the marauding bandits who attacked indiscriminately. It demanded ruthless determination, outstanding courage and clinical precision. He would need to be single-focused and able to take orders as well as give them.
However, he would have to use his initiative when in combat to achieve victory in a frequently changing environment. He would need an intimate knowledge of the terrain and be able to survive in any given situation. Not only personally, but he was additionally responsible for the survival of all the troops under his direct command.
At this time, Israel had a potpourri of enemies, ranging from the local Philistines, with whom Israel had an ongoing smoldering sufferance relationship, to the menacing Ammonites and the opportunistic Amalekites who were an ever present and vitriolic enemy.
You could be forgiven for thinking nothing much has changed in the last 5000 years. Israel is still surrounded by those who are determined to cause her pain and strife – largely for no other reason than for being who they are – the easily recognised children of Abraham and the Apple of God’s eye. Yahweh’s chosen race.
The people of God – Jew or Christian – need to remember that there is a battle going on. It is a spiritual battle between the Enemy, Satan, and the God of Israel. The Enemy will do all he can to destroy the people of God. Whilst on the surface the war is often over physical territory, the real objective is more sinister – it’s over the eternal souls of mankind.
Jonathan gives us a good example of someone who knew who the enemy was and did something about it. Because he knew if he didn’t the enemy would become increasingly arrogant and a constant thorn in his side.
Unfortunately, his father was more concerned with attacking those who were actually his loyal supporters. We all need to watch who and what we’re fighting; we would not want to be found fighting smokescreens, fantasies or friends.
We need to know what God wants us to do. We can then expend all our energy on reaching the goal. The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to give us life to the full. We need to resist the enemy, help release his captives and secure the future of the people for whom we are responsible.