This is the third lesson of the summer quarter of Sunday School lessons.  We have been taking a look at people of valor in our lessons this quarter.  So far we have taken a look at the valor of Joshua when he took on five kings and their armies.  Last week, we saw how the valor of Gideon encouraged his father to stand up against an angry mob.  In this week’s lesson we are going to be taking a look at the valor of Jonathan as he faces a great enemy.  Our lesson this week is being taught from 1 Samuel 14:1-13.

Facing the Philistines

Our lesson opens with Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and his armor bearer – they will be the focal points of our lesson this week.  At this point of time in their history, Saul was reigning as the king of Israel but also by this point in time, Saul had committed an unlawful sacrifice and was in the stages of losing his kingdom (1 Sam. 13:13-14).  Also, as we will see in our lesson, Israel and the Philistines were warring with one another.

We get a location for where our lesson is taking place.  Saul and his army were in Gibeah, which is where Jonathan and his armor bearer had been as well, but the two was able to leave Gibeah without anybody knowing they were gone (vss. 1-3).  The two left Gibeah and were passing through between the passes going over to the opposite side (northward) to Michmash.  Michmash was where the Philistine garrison was camped (vss. 4-5).

Bozez and Seneh Pass – Image from

Faith of Jonathan

I believe this to be vital information for us to know because these two men were essentially traveling alone to where the enemy was so wanting to scout the Philistine garrison would be incredibly dangerous for them.  Yet, when we take a further look into our lesson, we’ll see that Jonathan actually wanted to do more than just scout the garrison.

Jonathan says to the armor bearer, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few (v. 6).”  We often see Israel speak of Gentile nations by calling them uncircumcised. Circumcision, in that day, set the children of Israel apart from other nations that did not practice circumcision. Sometimes it seems that this can come off as a derogatory and in other times it comes off as being prideful.

Now, we rarely talk about Jonathan and on most occasions when we do so, it is to point out that he was the son of Saul or the friend of David.  We hardly ever get the opportunity to acknowledge that, unlike his father, Jonathan was a man of faith. I would tell you that Jonathan had a very mature faith when it came to God.  Some could view Jonathan’s decision here as being incredibly reckless, but I would tell you that he was moving out of faith. 

Some may point out that Jonathan says, “it may be” when speaking of what the Lord could do and say that this is not a sign of true faith.  Yet, I believe this is a very wise statement when it comes to faith in the Lord. Clearly Jonathan understood that God was capable of doing anything because he says, “For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” Examples of this being true can be seen throughout scripture, right? We recently saw Joshua and the army of Israel defeat five kings and their armies. Elijah, through the Lord, defeated 450 prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-40). Jesus was manifested in the world so that one could save the whole world – all of those that believe in Him (John 3:16).

Jonathan’s faith was mature, I believe, because he had a good understanding of the Lord’s will.  Do I mean that he had some kind of foreknowledge of the outcome of everything that would go on in his life? Absolutely not. I believe he understood the potential for what could potentially happen according to the Lord’s will and was not single minded in believe things would always go well for him. This reminds me a great deal of when Daniel’s friends faced the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:8-25).  They would now bow to the image that Nebuchadnezzar was forcing others to worship and because of this, they were to be punished.  

They were confident that God could deliver them from the furnace, but because they could not think for God nor dictate to Him, they considered that maybe they would not be delivered from the furnace.  Let’s take a look at what they said in full to Nebuchadnezzar.  “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up (Dan. 3:16-18).”

Faith of encouragement to others

Jonathan’s faith was in the same place as Daniel’s friends in that it was very mature and I tell you that is where our faith should also be. They were looking at the full picture of what could potentially happen in their lives according to God’s purpose and will and we should start doing the same.  Frankly, sometimes things go as we hope they would but there are certainly other times when things do not go as planned.  No matter the outcome, we must be ready to always be faithful in trusting in the Lord’s purpose and will for us.  Jonathan had this kind of faith that trusted in the will of God – let us do the same.  

His armor bearer, we will also see, was ready to stand in the same faith (v. 7).  The armor bearer says, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”  Jonathan’s heart was standing firm in the faith of God.  Again, this is another example of how our faith, especially when it is firm, is able to encourage others to stand on the same faith.  Jonathan’s valor was encouraging the armor bearer to stand by faithfully when things may have seemed impossible or bleak.  This is the kind of faith and valor we should have as we go about on our journey.

Jonathan’s plan

In the next few verses, we get some insight on what Jonathan’s plan was and again, I tell you that this was not simply a scouting mission for the two.  Jonathan’s plan starts off with he and the armor bearer intentionally revealing themselves to the Philistines (v. 8).  If the Philistines did nothing to Jonathan and his armor bearer, then Jonathan and the armor bearer would not move against them (v. 9).

On the other hand, if the Philistines challenged Jonathan and his armor bearer by asking the two to come up to them, then they would see it as a sign that God had delivered the Philistines into their hand (v. 10).  Sign watching is something that many believers and even non-believers be on the lookout for.  I believe that those who are of the genuine faith are able to recognize when the Lord is talking to them whether it is through signs, a dream, or through other people.

Again, Jonathan was a man of faith and he was letting the Lord guide his actions.  This is the way in which all of us as true believers should work – we should let God guide our actions so that we aren’t moving recklessly.  It is when we move recklessly that we make our mistakes, error, and fall.

Defeating the garrison

So, Jonathan and the armor bearer set out to intentionally reveal themselves to the Philistines (v. 11).  When they do so, the Philistines mock them by saying, “Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden.  Come up to us, and we will show you something (v. 12).”  Look at the supreme confidence of the Philistines!  They truly did believe themselves to be better than the Israelites and looked down on them.

In the prior chapter, you can actually see that many of the men in the Israelite army feared the Philistines and went and hid in caves, pits, and some fled back over the Jordan (1 Sam. 13:5-7). We are also shown in that same chapter that the Philistines raided other Israelites throughout the land and took their weapons (1 Sam. 13:16-23). Not only were they facing a great threat in the army of the Philistines but they were also lacking in weaponry.

So, of course the Philistines were filled with great confidence when it came to the Israelites. This also shows how incredibly dangerous the mission that Jonathan and his armor bearer was taking on. Physically speaking, they were in the inferior position compared to the Philistine army that was in the superior position. Yet, as we know, the Philistine garrison saying to Jonathan and his armor bearer to “come up to us” was the sign that Jonathan was looking for – the Philistines were about to be delivered into their hands!

So Jonathan and his armor bearer climbed the cliff to the Philistines and the Philistines fell before them.  Scripture tells us that they killed twenty men within about half an acre – 2 vs. 20 (v. 14).  The great enemy of the Israelites, the cocky Philistines, we are told, trembled at what they witnessed (v. 15). I think about our great enemy, the devil, and how our faith can cause him to tremble when he tries us.  Paul said that we should be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might and that we should put on the whole armor of God to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-11).

I tell you, when we put on the whole armor of God, our valor increases. And again, I point out how when we stand strong in our faith and show great valor, we are able to encourage those around us to do the same thing. This is shown to us again through Jonathan as the armor bearer stood with him in a tough and fearful predicament.


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