I love this episode in Jonathan’s life, don’t you? We see a side to him that is often neglected. Not only was he a mighty warrior, he was also a deeply spiritual person.
He not only acknowledged the God of Israel as the God of the nation; he also knew God personally. He had heard of the power of God and the fact that He was Israel’s Defender, Deliverer and Protector. He had been told that God had parted the Red Sea as the Israelites left Egypt, that God had stopped the flow of the Jordan river as the people entered Canaan. He would have remembered that God had destroyed the walls of Jericho so that the people could capture the city and so begin the adoption of their Promised Land.
Since then, however, there had been a series of setbacks as the leaders and people turned their backs on God. Consequently, their enemies began to harass them and cause them to suffer the strife they were experiencing at the time.
Jonathan nevertheless followed the Lord, the God of Israel. He believed that his God had not become impotent. To Jonathan his God was the same God who had delivered Israel in the past, and so He could do it again.
Not only could God ensure that the Israelites won the battles against their enemies, but Jonathan believed that God didn’t actually need the people to do anything to win – God was fully capable of winning the battles all on His own.
The Philistines were oppressing the Israelites but Jonathan was determined to break free from their yoke. Whilst most of the Israelites were afraid of them and were in hiding, Jonathan decided to reverse their fortunes. He would take the battle to the Philistines.
However, before he began he would make sure that it was what God had wanted him to do. He wanted to be certain that his strategy was right. He therefore discussed the situation with his armour-bearer. Jonathan reminded his armour-bearer that although the odds were heavily stacked against them, they could easily win if it was what God had wanted them to do.
His armour-bearer confirmed that he would be with Jonathan all the way and so Jonathan explained the strategy. As the Philistines were in what they thought was an impregnable fortress, Jonathan would expose his position, thus allowing the Philistines to strike him at will. However, if they taunted Jonathan to fight them on their terms in their secure hideaway, then he and his armour-bearer would be happy to do so.
Jonathan pre-determined that such a challenge would be God’s way of confirming that He had ordained that Jonathan would win the fight. So when the challenge came, Jonathan was ready for it. He and his armour-bearer scaled the steep ravine and arrived at the top, much to the Philistines’ chagrin.
However, that was only the beginning. God enabled Jonathan and his armour-bearer to kill 20 men in a very small area and then went into battle Himself. God caused an earthquake and total confusion to reign so much so that the Philistines ended up fighting and killing each other.
When Saul and the rest of the people saw what God was doing they joined in and experienced an overwhelming victory.
It’s so easy to read an account like this, and get excited and think – oh that was nice for then but I don’t see God doing much like that these days. Jonathan could have said the same. The interesting thing is that those who take God at His word, those who are fully devoted to Jesus Christ still see amazing things happening today. All it takes is to trust God rather than ourselves and the circumstances – seek His will, carry it out and leave the rest to Him.
It’s worth a try, isn’t it?