Jonathan’s faith led him to realise that victory can be obtained by the few when they have faith in God. The obvious lesson is that God does not need to use large numbers to obtain a victory. Of course, there is no merit in a small number either, for in this chapter God uses a few to win the first victory and a larger number to win the second victory. But there are some benefits in a small number and they are illustrated in this incident. First, there is mutual encouragement (v. 6) and, second, there is harmony of purpose and resolve (v. 7).
Here are some good examples of the value of a small number. One of the important aspects of Paul’s missionary work was his focus on team ministry, and of small groups working together. He did not possess all the gifts and he needed and valued the contribution of others. The Bible nowhere indicates that a minister can or is to do everything in a congregation. That is why there are Kirk sessions and deacons courts and why the gift(s) of each believer is to be valued.
Another application of this principle is when two or three people meet together in prayer. We normally link Matthew 18:20 to this idea: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ That statement follows on from his promise in the previous verse: ’Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.’ It is interesting the figures that Jesus used in that promise; his presence is guaranteed to the least possible numbers as well as to the larger crowds.
Perhaps another important point arising from this incident is that when we plan to do something for the Lord, be it a matter of prayer or arranging an event, we are to be careful about the companions that we choose for the venture. Jonathan chose a man whom he could rely on, whom he knew would help him in the fight.