First Samuel 14 Commentary
In chapter 13, we noticed how Saul shook with fear because of the Philistines that assembled against him. It is actually Jonathan, his son, who had initiated this trouble by attacking a Philistine outpost. In chapter 14, Jonathan’s faith is on display again.
He attacks another Philistine outpost and kills 20 men, all by himself. The consequence is that the LORD delivers Israel again. It is amazing what little faith and little effort can do! “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” This timelessly important injunction is credited to Jonathan’s faith, and here preserved for the encouragement of the saint who is found with little faith.
We can also admire Jonathan’s humility in checking whether his mission had the approval of the LORD. He is interacting with the God of Abraham by faith and doesn’t rely on cold and lifeless rituals like his father in chapter 13.
Look at King Saul. While his son’s faith has achieved wonders, his cold religion is still fidgeting with rituals. Like Jonathan, we are also shocked by Saul’s decision-making. Indeed he has brought trouble to Israel. It should be strange that this assessment should be coming from his own son.
We know Saul isn’t alone. Today’s love for objects such as the rosary, holy water, and the anointing oil, takes you back to Saul’s cold and lifeless religious pursuits. On the other hand, Jonathan simply takes off believing the LORD can save by many or by few. He is so consumed by this faith that he fears less for his personal safety. Yet he is humble enough to state; ‘let your will be done.’
It is easily observable that some very intelligent minds are known for their very foolish and shocking decisions. The absence of the Spirit of God guarantees it.
The chapter closes with the statement that ‘all the days of Saul, there was bitter war with the Philistines’. Firstly, this scenario wasn’t part of the script. The LORD had promised to eliminate these enemies completely. The fact that we are still talking about bitter battles here speaks of failure. The scripture seems to bring out the point that Jonathan’s simple faith could have achieved victory easily, and the statement on Saul’s bitter wars with Philistines was never going to be part of the scripture.
Secondly, the chapter seems to point out Saul’s sinful and poor decision-making as the reason for failure. It was never meant to end this way. A religious activity here and there; a first-timer altar builder; a wrongly taken religious oath; and a church talk here and there, without a real relationship with the LORD: it is this kind of Christianity which causes a lot of pain and suffering. God forbid.
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