August 8 2021
Book: 1 Samuel

Heart and Soul

Bible Passage: 1 Samuel 14

Let’s continue our study of 1 Samuel in chapter 14.

1 One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

Jonathan probably knew that Saul wouldn’t let him go. But where is Saul?

2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron.

In other words, Saul is still in hiding. He is still afraid. And he’s obviously chosen for himself a comfortable place to hide – something called the “pomegranate cave”.

The people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.

Very significant is that Saul here is relying on the cursed priesthood of Eli instead of Samuel. Saul was perhaps finding it easier to assert his authority over this priest, as we will see in a minute. But this tells us that Saul’s spiritual life is questionable.

4 Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.

I’m not going to tell you what those names mean yet, because it is too big of a spoiler.

5 The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba. 6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

I want to break down this last sentence because it tells us something about faith.

“It may be” that the Lord will work for us. This is not a doubt, but an understanding of God’s authority. Jonathan knows that God is capable of giving them victory. He says so in the second half of the sentence. “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”

By saying God “may” do this, He is leaving the outcome in God’s hands. And that is confirmed in the next verse.

7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”

This is one of the most beautiful expressions of faith in the entire Bible, and it comes from an unnamed armor-bearer. It is also the most important verse in this chapter.

Faith says to God – do all that is in your heart, God. Do as you wish. I am with you heart and soul.

This is what Jonathan meant when He said God “may” give us victory – not that He doubted God, but that He trusted God. In other words, “God may want me to do this big thing in His name… or He may not.” “God may want to bless me in this way, or He may not.”

There’s a big misunderstanding about the nature of faith for a lot of Christians. I’ve heard people say things like this: “If you had enough faith, God would heal you. If you had enough faith, God would make you wealthy.” Or even this, “If you had enough faith, you would sell everything and become a missionary.”

And they will quote verses like these:

“Speak those things that are not as though they were” – which is a misunderstanding of Romans 4:17, where the subject is God, not us.

Or the words of Jesus, when he says that faith the size of a mustard seed is enough to cast mountains into the sea. And that’s absolutely true, but the mountain is not moving unless God wants it to move.

We learn this best in Jesus Himself. Listen to the prayer of Jesus the night before the cross.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Now, would you say to the Son of God, “Come on Jesus, speak those things that are not as though they were… why are you worried? Why are you praying more earnestly? Name it and claim it, Jesus!”

Of course not. No one questions the faith of Jesus in His Father. He asked. The Father answered. And the answer was, “No.”

Faith is not a magic formula to get God to do what we want God to do. What if God doesn’t plan to heal you? What if he doesn’t plan to make you wealthy? What if He doesn’t send you on some big adventure for Jesus?

We can ask God anything in faith, but we finish the prayer with these words: not my will, but yours, be done. And that sounds a lot like the words of the nameless armor-bearer:

“Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”

This should be the voice of Saul – the voice of the king leading his people in faith. But it’s not.

Let’s keep reading.

8 Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.”

Notice again the dependence on God. He’s not presuming victory. He is waiting on God.

11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines. And the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.” And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. 14 And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land. 15 And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.

16 And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude was dispersing here and there. 17 Then Saul said to the people who were with him, “Count and see who has gone from us.” And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18 So Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God went at that time with the people of Israel. 19 Now while Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle.

There’s more to the story that we don’t have time to cover today, so I encourage you to read the rest of the chapter for yourself and let me know if you want to talk about it.

But something happens here that is easy to miss but very important.

In verse 18, Saul tells the priest to bring the ark of God. What Saul means is this – “let’s ask God what we should do next.” That was a good instinct. That is exactly what Saul should have done.

But look at the end of verse 19. He says to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” The priests had a way of asking God a yes or no question using part of their breastplate. But Saul stops the priest in the middle of the ritual. Saul notices that the Philistines are vulnerable, and he decides to attack.

Do you remember the point of chapter 13? What does it mean to trust God? It means waiting. And what does Saul do? He made a decision without God. “Withdraw your hand” was Saul silencing God.

Later in the chapter, Saul is going to ask God another question and God is not going to respond.

Why is this so important? Because it shows us a contrast to the faith of Jonathan and his armor-bearer.

Instead of seeking the Lord and trusting the Lord, Saul waits until victory seems obvious and makes the decision on his own. He doesn’t even need God.

And here’s the lesson for us. The opposite of faith is usually not doubt, but self-reliance. God is patient with doubters. He is less patient with people who think they don’t need him.

This is important for religious people like us to recognize. We sing songs on Sunday like this one, “Lord, I need you – every hour I need you.” But so often our lives reek of self-reliance. We do what we want, when we want, without giving much thought if any to God, His Word, or His will.

We are more likely to pray when something unexpected or difficult happens to us, but we quickly forget when we are comfortable. Or we become bitter when we don’t get what we wanted.

I don’t have many Jonathan days, but I have a lot of Saul days. How can we break the cycle of self-reliance and learn to trust God? How can we learn to believe that we really need Him every hour? How can we learn to wait and listen and depend on Him?

Remember the names of the rocky crags back in verse 4? It said there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other. The first is named Seneh, which means “thorny path” and the second is Bezez, which means “shining path”.

Jonathan went down the thorny path and came up the shining path. Come on now, Church. You see where this is going, don’t you?

In verse 11, the Philistines saw Jonathan coming and said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.”

Another word for holes is tombs. And in the last chapter, we were told that many were hiding themselves in tombs. Come on now, Church.

Who else do we know that walked down a thorny path and then walked up a shining path out of a tomb?! Jesus!

And it gets better! The boldness of Jonathan inspired everyone else to come out of the caves and tombs where they were hiding!

He went where no one else was willing to go and then the people followed – because by the time they came out of their holes, the battle had already been won. Come on now, Church.

Relying on yourself is like hiding in a grave. It is spiritual death, and it is why we physically die – because we ignore the Creator. But God has a solution.

Jonathan said, “God can save by many or by few.” Jesus said, “Actually, he can save by One.”

Christ died for our sins. He was buried. He rose on the third day. If Christ has not been raised, then my preaching is in vain, and our faith is in vain. If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain, and we are still in our sins.

But if He is risen – then the battle is already won. And that’s how the Gospel destroys our self-reliance. There is no need for it. Why hide in the grave when the victory is won? We won’t, unless we don’t trust God’s solution.

But if Jesus is risen and the victory is won, then what are we afraid of? What are we waiting for? Why are we not following Jesus into battle? Why aren’t we trusting Him with everything? Why is this not our prayer?

“Do all that is in your heart, God. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.”