Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 9 September 2022:
1 Samuel 14:6 – 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.”
After reading about Saul’s catastrophic decision-making, we read about Jonathan’s bold, courageous decisiveness which brought great victory to God’s people for God’s glory. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan appears to take bold (perceivably suicidal to someone without Jonathan’s faith) action without a clear word from God – “it may be that the Lord will work for us….” So, what is the difference between Jonathan’s actions and those of Saul in chapter 13?
The first obvious point is that Jonathan is not disobeying God in His actions. The second obvious point is Jonathan is not motivated simply by self-preservation; on the contrary, Jonathan’s actions make no sense from a human perspective or from ‘common sense.’ The third, most important point, is that Jonathan is acting on faith, trusting God with the outcome, resting on the promises of God – “…for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few…. for the Lord has given them into our hand.”
Though not expedient from a human perspective, Jonathan acted boldly in faith because he saw a terrible thing occurring among God’s people – “When the men of Israel saw that they were in trouble (for the people were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns, and some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.” (1 Samuel 13:6, 7) Jonathan saw the people of God, overwhelmed by their own weakness rather than emboldened by the power of God, cowering before the ungodly, bringing discredit to God despite the promises of God, and Jonathan simply refused to follow suit.
Jonathan chose to act on faith rather than on simply human reason, and he was not alone. His armor bearer was ready to go with him – “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.’” (1 Samuel 14:7) One can only speculate whether Jonathan would have crossed over had his armor bearer not been so wholeheartedly willing to go with him, but no doubt the armor bearer was a great encouragement to him at this critical time.
Jonathan’s faith (during a time of Saul’s lack of faith) started a wave amongst God’s people – “Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle…. Now the Hebrews who had been with the Philistines before that time and who had gone up with them into the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise, when all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed hard after them in the battle. So the Lord saved Israel that day. And the battle passed beyond Beth-aven.” (1 Samuel 14:20-23)
A little faith demonstrated by one faithful follower of Christ can go a long way and grow into something tremendous – “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20, 21) “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31, 32)
How desperately do we need Jonathans in the church today? How desperately do we need armor bearers? Who will lead by example by waiting on the Lord in obedience and stepping out boldly in faith, one day at a time? Might that someone be you? What might God do with your mustard seed faith?
- Psalm 54:4 — Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
1 Samuel 14:7 — 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.”
There is no greater blessing on earth than a wholehearted Christian companion who is willing to join you at all cost in pursuit of God’s will. Jonathan was strengthened by the loyalty and courage of his armor bearer. (1 Samuel 14:14) To whom are you an armor bearer? Who is your armor bearer? Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
1 Samuel 14:15 — The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.
If God is with you, no one can stand against you.
1 Samuel 14:20 – …every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion.
Infighting is the sign of a failed organization (or church). Disunity cannot stand against unity.
1 Samuel 14:20 — Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle.
Sometimes all people need is a faithful, courageous leader. Are you that leader, or are you just waiting for someone else?
1 Samuel 14:22 – Again, one courageous leader can change everything.
1 Samuel 14:24 — Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.
Saul made a rash vow which had nothing to do with God’s will but was solely based on his self-centered pride. Self-centered leaders only harass their followers.
1 Samuel 14:24, 29, 35 — For Saul, the battle was about “I” and “me”, and his unwise decision-making revealed it. Because of his self-centered leadership, Saul “troubled the land.” Still, Saul imagined himself to be a godly leader.
1 Samuel 14:32 — The people pounced on the spoil and took sheep and oxen and calves and slaughtered them on the ground. And the people ate them with the blood.
Saul’s failure to care for his troops by needlessly pushing them beyond their physically limits incited them to sin against God.
1 Samuel 14:37 — And Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day.
When Saul walked away from God, God stopped answering his prayers, but Saul blamed God’s silence on sins of those who actually had not sinned. Godless leaders are always quick to blame someone or something else.
1 Samuel 14:50 — And the name of the commander of his army was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle.
Though senior in familial position, Saul’s uncle respected the governmental authority of Saul. The Bible calls us all to submit to authority in the home, in the church, and in government. Jesus modeled this to us by obeying His mother and by submitting to the authority of the Father, though in Sprit He was equally God. Wives are called to submit to husbands. Do you have a problem with this?
Note: Here is a link to a video overview of Titus: https://youtu.be/PUEYCVXJM3k
Titus 1:4 – To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
When you were saved, you were saved into a family — “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) Do you see and treat other Christians as your true family in Christ? How close are you with the members of your Christian family? Do you continually pray that your family in Christ would more fully realize the grace and peace of Jesus, and do you seek to be God’s instrument of grace and peace in their lives? Do you have a heart to serve fellow Christians with joy and contentment, without complaint?
Today’s focus verse from Titus reminds me of some things Jesus said –
- Mark 3:33-35 — And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
- John 17:22-23 — The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- John 13:35 — By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
- Hebrews 10:24, 25 — And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8) The mark of a true Christian and a truly Christian church is unity in Christ, the unity for which Jesus prayed before going to the Cross (John 17:22-23), a unity which supernaturally overcomes all of the social stratifications which commonly divide people, a unity which is so visible and amazing that it serves as a great testimony to the world of the truth of Jesus Christ (John 17:22-23). Note the sort of unity displayed in the early church – “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.” (Acts 13:1) What an unlikely crew to lead a church, people from diverse ethnic, social, religious, and political backgrounds, now united in the only thing which can really unite, faith in Jesus Christ. Are you actively sharing life and the Gospel with a small diverse group like this? Do you and your close Christian companions stand out to others because of the unity you share in your mutual love for Christ? Abide in Christ by abiding in Christian relationships, working together to bring others into the family of Christ too.
- 1 John 4:12 — No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
- 1 John 3:14 — We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
- 1 John 2:10 — Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
- Psalm 133:1 — Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
Titus 1:6-9 – …if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 1:6-9 sets the standards for a leader. We have largely neglected this standard to our own peril.
God holds His people to a very high standard of conduct, and He expects His ambassadors to “rebuke those who contradict… sound doctrine.” How have we failed to meet this expectation in the modern church? How does Jesus feel about the Lukewarm?
- Revelation 3:16 — So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Titus 1:10, 16 — For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers…. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
There are those who talk the religious talk and go through the religious motions, but they are disobedient and, thereby, deny God. Jesus said that those who love God obey God. What comes out of your mouth today, how you spend your money, how you treat others, who you choose to partner with, how you respond to ungodly behavior, and what you choose to watch on TV, or the internet, are all great indicators of how you really feel about God.
Titus 1:15 – To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
From Henry T. Blackaby — Your heart’s condition will be expressed through your life. It will be evident by your attitudes, your words, and your behavior. Jesus said that you can clearly see others only when your own eyes are unobstructed (Luke 6:42). If your vision is hindered by sin, you will not look at others properly. If your heart is pure, you will approach life without malice. You will not question the motives of everyone around you; you will not doubt the truth of everything others tell you; you will not look for fault in others. Instead, you will look for the good in others, finding what is praiseworthy. You will not be naive or gullible, but you will seek what is good rather than what is evil. If your heart is pure, you will see others the way God sees them (Matt. 6:22). If your heart is defiled, everything with which you are involved will seem corrupt as well. You will assume evil motives in others because you know what you would do given the same circumstances. You will be cynical about what you hear because your own words are deceitful. You will be drawn to evil people and evil things. How do you look at the words and actions of others? Are you critical of them? Are you judgmental? If so, ask God to purify your heart. Once He has, you will be free to see yourself and others as God does.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 September 2022: Today, focus on trusting and obeying God moment by moment, seeing circumstance and every person through the lens of Christ. Before making decisions, pray, pray, pray, then obey without delay. Also, Pray that God will help you grow in love for your church family, that you would be one with them in Christ and that your love for them would be a powerful testimony to the world.