Jonathan the Brave

This past weekend, my youth group went on our winter retreat. It was my last one ever- a little weird to think about for me, but that isn’t the point of today’s post!

On our retreat, we learned about Saul’s son Jonathan- you’ve probably heard of him. The best friend of King David? Yeah, that Jonathan. But here’s the thing that not everyone knows- or at least, I didn’t until this past weekend: Jonathan wasn’t only in the Bible as David’s best friend. That was a big part of his story but it was not the only part.

You’ve probably heard the story about the arrows- one for if Saul still wanted to kill David, and two for if it was safe to come back- or something like that. But have you heard the story about Jonathan leading an attack on the Philistines with just his armorbearer? Or how he encouraged David when Saul was relentlessly pursuing him and David was losing faith? Because I hadn’t until this past weekend. And it was honestly very eye-opening.

So over the next three(ish) week, I’m going to be sharing with you some of my notes from each session. This week, we are going to be going over Jonathan’s bravery and reliance on God.

In 1 Samuel 14, Saul, Jonathan, and the Israelites are hiding from the Philistines in caves. But while Saul is resigning himself to his fate- he probably thought he was going to die- under a pomegranate tree, Jonathan is putting a plan into action.

1 Samuel 14:1 “One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.”

Jonathan took action when Saul wouldn’t. My youth pastor said that “bravery takes action”.

1 Samuel 14:8-14 “Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”

11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”

So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”

13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.”

Jonathan went without fear, and did what God was leading him to do. He didn’t question it- he was brave and he had faith. It was a faith that his father did not have.

Saul was afraid but Jonathan was brave- fear results from a reliance on self, but bravery comes from a reliance on God. Bravery comes from understanding that God is with you wherever you go. Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jonathan relied on God to give the Philistines into his hand. That shows incredible bravery- bravery that I’m not sure I could have. I’d love to say that I would run with one other person into a fight where I was clearly outnumbered, but I don’t know that I would. I don’t know that many of us would- we value our lives too much to do something that outwardly seems so crazy and stupid.

But that’s what God does- he takes the outwardly crazy, impossible, stupid actions and makes them possible. You may look ridiculous to man, but God is using you to do something amazing.

But you know what is even crazier? While Jonathan was fighting boldly for God, his father noticed that the Philistine army was receding. He isn’t sure why, but notices that his son is gone.

So he starts to make a sacrifice to God- an unlawful sacrifice- to try and figure out what God’s will is. He stops the sacrifice when he notices that the army is continuing to recede- 1 Samuel 14:19 “While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.””. But that fact remains, he thought that he needed to perform a sacrifice to figure out God’s will, when God was already giving them the victory and they didn’t even know it.

Jonathan was stepping out boldly in faith, following God’s already clear will, while his father is making unlawful sacrifices and trying to figure out what God wants him to do.

The contrast between Jonathan and Saul is almost frightening. Saul acts out of fear and selfishness whlie Jonathan acts out of faith and bravery.

Who are you going to be? Are you going to be a Jonathan, relying on God? Or are you going to be a Saul, relying on yourself?

Nobody is perfect- I’ll admit, I’m probably a Saul more often than not. But I’m working on it. And I hope that after reading this, you will too 🙂

I hope that everyone enjoyed this, and maybe learned a little something from it too! I’ll be posting the next session next week (hopefully)- and believe me, they just get better and better!

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