Grab your Bibles and let’s go deeper into 1 Samuel and the life of Jonathan.
We start out this week with the garrison of the Philistines encamped at Mikmash while the army of Israel, under Saul, are hiding in caves. The garrison of the Philistines is protected on three sides by sharp (literally, toothy) rock. Saul has 600 men with him. We see again how the lack of Saul’s faith in God leads him to ungodly behavior. This is in great contrast to his son, Jonathan. Praise God for His work in Jonathan that he did not follow in Saul’s footsteps. Even if we are godly, there are things that we do not want our children to follow us in doing. Jonathan was godly. He did everything for God’s glory and trusted in His name. Saul did everything to protect his own power and authority.
Jonathan proceeds to sneak away from camp with his armor bearer (squire) with him, not telling anyone else. Jonathan knows his father would prevent him from doing this.
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.”
First, by calling them “uncircumcised”, Jonathan is saying these are not people that are part of the Covenant. They are not God’s Covenant people.
See the final sentence from the verse “nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” This is Jonathan’s faith coming out. This is like David’s statement against Goliath, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” The continued trust in YHWH is shown in verse 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.”
As we continue, we see that the Philistines mock Jonathan and his armor bearer (1 Samuel 14:11-12). They allow them to come up, then Jonathan and his armor bearer set to work. They kill 20 men, one right after another, in their first surge. Half a furrow is half a row that oxen could plow in a field. The idea is that it is a very short distance. Jonathan and his squire route that garrison. We read that the rest of the Philistines started shaking like leaves and ran. The Philistines’ fleeing is noticed by Israel and they do a headcount and realize Jonathan is missing; they then proceed to chase the Philistines. This is an amazing story; the obedience of one man saves many.
Jonathan was obedient to God and conquered the Philistines’ garrison. This points us to Jesus who was also obedient. Romans tells us through one man’s disobedience sin entered the world, and through one man’s [Jesus’] obedience the many will be made righteous. Jonathan’s faith foreshadows Jesus’ perfect faith. We are to trust in Christ as the payment for our sin.
Humble Yourself for the Good of Others and the Glory of God
Second, Jonathan’s submission to the plan of God is dethroning. This is one of the great narratives (historic story) in Scripture. Jonathan and David were best friends—their hearts (souls–innermost being) were knit together in love. Understand, that this is a brotherly love at its best. This is not a sinful, homosexual, nor an off-color relationship. It is a description of two men who have something very deep in common and have bonded in a very God-honoring way.
1 Samuel 18:1-4 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
Jonathan was the son of Saul, the king of Israel. He was next in line to be the king of Israel. What makes this exchange so amazing is the fact that we essentially see Jonathan giving up his birthright to David. They covenanted together. Covenants are made based on trustworthy relationships, and they are made before God. A covenant should not ever be broken for any reason. For example, the covenant of marriage is only completed by death.
Jonathan shows sacrificial love and great humble submission as he takes off his earthly vestments, his robe (signifying importance) and takes off his armor. This is saying, “you are more important than I am; I will lay down my life for your protection.” His sword is a representation of his duty to administer justice, and the bow is a representation of provision of food. Jonathan gives up the throne, willingly! Jonathan gives David the means to defend, rule, and provide. These are not some extra items—this is HIS armor, HIS sword and HIS bow. Now, realize, that the text doesn’t tell us that Jonathan knows David is anointed by Samuel to be the next king. Jonathan bows and submits himself to the plan of God which, literally, is giving up his throne. How many of us would be humble enough to see this through and not fight and argue if God called us to this? What a testimony in that Jonathan did not prize these things or this lifetime position above God’s plan.
1 Samuel 18:3-4 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
It is a symbolic gesture saying, “I give up my glory to you. I make myself nothing that you might become something. I become poor that you might become rich. I become a nobody that you might become a somebody.”
Do you see what he is doing? The less kingly he acts, the more like a king he becomes.
So, how do we move from me-centered to other-centered, from vain, selfish, and prideful to serving, loving, and humble?
There is one who can clearly show us, inspire us, and make it possible for us to be humble. Jesus!
Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
To kill the poison of pride, we have to embrace a life in humility; this is only attainable if we are healed and redefined by Jesus!
Listen closely, because this is the good news for us today! We talked earlier about the popular Secular, self-esteem that we run after in sin. There is a Gospel self-esteem. We only have this esteem in Christ!
Jesus gave up His esteem in order to give you and me a lasting esteem. It’s what we have spent our entire lives running from—the sense of not being noticed, the possibility of not getting picked, the horrible feeling of not being loved. Jesus, instead of running from these things, ran straight toward them!
The only way to look away from self, so that you can truly look towards others, is to first look to Jesus! The good news is God humbled Himself to put on flesh and walk among us, to be ridiculed by us, to be picked on. Because of His humility, He didn’t stand up and level them with His truth. His mission was to free them with His sacrifice.
Jesus humbled Himself to death so we could finally be humbled in the gift of life!
How can you and I be liberated from the dominating power of the world’s empty definitions of greatness? Jesus.
How can you and I experience the lasting joy of being fully known and still fully loved? Jesus.
How can you and I experience the satisfaction of Christ’s definition of who we are and no longer long the world’s definitions that never leave us satisfied? Jesus!
Jesus is the true Jonathan who took off His robe that was rightfully His as put it on us, so that we might have lasting life; so that we might have lasting joy.
Everything that you and I stand to gain is because of what Jesus gave up.
In response to this, Saul gets mad at Jonathan and tells him, he is giving up the kingdom. Jonathan doesn’t let things, positions, or power get in the way of his relationship with his God. If you reread the passages and look for the ways Jonathan trusted and humbly submitting himself to God, you will be blessed. Even in the attack on the garrison, Jonathan had no guarantee he would live, but he willingly pressed on to fulfill God’s plan to extend the kingdom according to the promises of Old Testament Israel.
If we were next-in-line to be king, would we willing give up that plan for God’s plan, stepping aside to let someone else be king and have authority, wealth, and power? To spend our lives in obscurity is often more challenging than to go out in a blaze for God’s glory. Would we forsake our lives to extend the kingdom of God? Are we willing to serve Him in any capacity: scrubbing toilets, picking up trash, giving up the American dream, packing up and going to a foreign country, giving up hobbies to spend time discipling our kids? Are we willing to dethrone ourselves and our plans for the plan of God?
Jonathan’s and David’s relationship is an example of what a godly friendship looks like. Each person trusts the other. Each knows the other has his best interest in mind, humbly submitting to one another, trusting each other for advice, supporting each other to do the plan of God even to the point of denying oneself benefits and pleasures. How many of us have someone we trust like this—that we would willing submit to, listen to, forsake pleasures for their greatness, like-minded in our faith, pushing one another in a closer walk with God?
Legacy Influences Others After You’re Gone
In the text this week, we read that Jonathan was killed in battle along with his three brothers. This is important for us to understand. God took Jonathans life, opening the way for David to fulfill his role. In 2 Samuel 9:1-9, we see the legacy of Jonathan. David brings the only living heir, who was crippled, to live in the house of the king and provide for him. Jonathan’s legacy was powerful. He was a mighty warrior; he was son to the king; he was a trustworthy friend. The most powerful part of Jonathan’s legacy is the fact that he was a man that followed after God. Jonathan submitted, willingly, to the plan of God—trusting in God’s sovereign plan and not in the results he desired, not in what he could gain, nor in fame. In life, and in death, Jonathan was obedient to God.
What kind of legacy are you leaving? Are you a parent like Saul? Are you an obedient servant like Jonathan? Are you seeking the kingdom of God first? Are you trusting, by faith, in the promises of God? Are you following in the little things, the minor stuff? These are the building blocks of great faith. Are you willing to dethrone yourself?
What little patterns of faith are you establishing in your own life. Faith is shown by obedience. We see how Jonathan was obedient. How are you being obedient? God tells us, “If you love me you will keep my commandants.” Are you doing this—loving the Lord your God above everything, loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your wife, training up your children in the word, reading and studying the word? These are the little things. Spend some time this week evaluating the little things in your life and asking yourself if you are being faithful to God in them?
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC