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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Victory against the odds (1 Samuel 14:1-15)

Victory against difficult odds is obtained by the few when they have faith in God. The crags were a significant obstacle to Jonathan and his armour bearer; the names of the crags suggest that one was slippery and the other was thorny. The Philistines felt totally secure. We have here a picture of the strongholds of evil that are opposed to Chrisians.

Because of their faith Jonathan and his friend displayed no fear of or to the enemy (v. 8). This does mean they were reckless or self-confident. Rather they realised that because they were weak with a great God they could overcome the foe. A knowledge of God reduces fear, and they that know their God will be strong and do exploits (Dan. 11:32). 

They tested the enemy’s sense of readiness. The Philistines were over confident. It is not clear if Jonathan was asking for a sign from God or if he was merely assessing their outlook. He realised that there would have to be a battle. What is the case is that he was not asking if they should fight the Philistines but where they should fight them. 

They fought anticipating victory. As Christians we too should fight the good fight anticipating both short-term and long-term victory. The long-term is assured, because the day is coming when Jesus will bruise Satan’s head under us (Rom. 16:20). Before then, we may have victories and defeats, but even with the latter we get up and fight on because we cannot lose our salvation. The Lord lifts us up: ‘Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with his hand’ (Ps. 37:24). 

The actions of Jonathan and his armour bearer brought focus to other Israelites. There were some with the Philistines, probably in forced labour, and some who had been afraid and fled; they rejoined the army and together won a great victory (vv. 21-22). Christians who are backslidden and others who are overwhelmed by the enemy take courage when they see the exploits of a few.  

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