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“Nothing Restrains the Lord from Saving By Many or By Few”
(I Samuel 14:1-23)


Introduction.  The Bible records for us an amazing event that took place during the early history of the united kingdom of Israel that involved Jonathan, the son of king Saul, and his armorbearer which offers a valuable lesson to us about the power of God. 

I. Jonathan & His Armorbearer Defeat the Philistines.

A.  Background:  In the second year of Saul’s reign over Israel (13:1), The Israelites engaged the Philistines in battle. 

1.         They began with 3000 chosen men: 2000 with Saul at Michmash & 1000 with Jonathan at Gibeah (13:2).

2.         North of Michmash and Gibeah was a Philistine garrison at Geba.  Jonathan attacked the garrison (13:3).  Upon learning this Saul called all the people together at Gilgal (13:4).

3.         Jonathan’s attack on Geba stirs up the anger of the Philistines and they gathered together 30,000 chariots, 6000 horseman, and “people as the sand which is in the seashore” at Michmash (13:5).

4.         When the Israelites heard about this they became very distressed and scattered, hiding in caves, and in the rocky hillsides (13:6).

5.         Seeing this Saul had a major lapse in judgment which cost him the kingdom.  Even though the prophet Samuel had told him to wait for him to offer sacrifice he offered it on his own.  This was an act of rebellion against God for which Samuel rebuked him and told him the kingdom would go to another man “after God’s own heart” (13:8-14).

B.  The Scene:  Samuel goes to Jonathan in Gebeah.  Saul is left with only 600 men (13:15).  3 companies of Philistines raid villages north of Michmash (13:17,18), with their garrison at the pass to Michmash (13:23).  

C.  Johnathan’s Plan.  (I Samuel 14:1-3).

1.         The terrain (1 Samuel 14:4,5).  Bozez means “surpassing white: glistening”    Seneh means “thorny.”  Chaim Herzog and Mordechai Gichon in their book Battles of the Bible identify this with the modern day gorge known as Wadi Sueinit (p. 70),  which appears to have been located behind the Philistine blocking position.

2.         Jonathan’s faith (1 Samuel 14:6,7).  Note: unlike his father, he believed that God was with them.

3.         The strategy (1 Samuel  14:8-12).  Herzog and Gichon write, “Jonathan used this state of affairs for a dare-devil strategem that by its sheer audacity promised success.  Accompanied solely by his shield bearer, he made a wide detour to the south and appeared to the men of the Philstine blocking force as a man unconnected with the Israelite host who exploited the lull in the fighting to come out of his hiding-place and attend to private matters.  [Note: This is their supposition.]  Therefore, after shouting some insults…the soldiers of the blocking force returned their attention to the Israelite positions opposite.  Jonathan… then disappeared into the deep gorge of Wadi Suweinit, and when they reached the cliff near the Philistine positions… by their sudden assault from behind, both men were able to slay the considerable number of the utterly surprised enemy and beat the rest into a wild retreat” (ibid.)  (1 Samuel 14:13,14).

D.  The result (1 Samuel 14:15-23),   Note: How this was accomplished:

      1.  The Weapons (1 Samuel 13:19-22). 

      2.  The victory came because of two men, one sword, faith, courage, and God.   

II.  God Saved Israel Through…

A.  A few men.

1.  “There are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13,14).

B.  A sword.

1.  “Sharper than a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12,13).

2.  “The whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

C.  Faith.

1.  Not fool-heartiness:  God had promised His assistance (Deut. 20:1-4).

2.  “Faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:17).

3.  Faith is the victory (1 John 5:3-5).

D.  Courage.

1.  “Be of good courage” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

E.   The power of God.

1.         “It is the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16,17).

2.         “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Kyle Pope 2010

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