“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.’ 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 14:6–7)
No wonder David’s hand was strengthened in the Lord after meeting with this man (cf. 1 Sam 23:16). His bravery is infectious, as it seems to have been for his armor-bearer too (cf. 14:7). There is something glorious about a man who runs confidently into a seemingly hopeless fight, unhindered by fear, like a plucky underdog who laughs at threats. Not knowing whether he will succeed (e.g., “It may be…” 14:6), he is happy to venture all the same. What a stout-hearted saint. This is bravery.
What’s Behind It?
Bravery has its glory, it’s the stuff of heroes. But what motivates it? What’s behind it? Why is the man brave? It could be pride. If that be the case, no matter what impressive effect it might achieve in the moment, at bottom, that man’s bravery is no virtue.
So, what motivates Jonathan’s bravery? Why is he confident? Why does he turn to his armor-bearer and say, “Come, let us go” (14:6)? He tells us: “for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few” (14:6). God’s power makes him confident—God’s power, not his own. Jonathan believes that his own weakness is no hindrance to God working his good will. This is the confidence, the bravery of the saints—a spirited confidence in God’s power to work through weakness.
Grounds for Hope, Then and Now
What grounds did Jonathan have for thinking this way? Surely, he could look to the exodus when YHWH delivered Israel out of the land of Egypt by two men. Jonathan also lived at the tail end of that era of judges when YHWH delivered Israel again and again by the hand of one Spirit-anointed judge after another. This is what YHWH does. This is no empty wish, no wishful thinking; this is a man watching the mighty works of YHWH and walking accordingly.
If Jonathan could have such hope looking to the exodus and the deliverances through the judges, how much more should we hope, who look to a far greater deliverance, who look to Christ, our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom 4:25). Through him, God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col 1:13). And his beloved Son, Jesus, delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10).
Our Spirited Confidence
Now, we’re not taking on Philistine garrisons these days. Now that Christ, the King of kings, has come and inaugurated his kingdom reign, we’re not taking on Philistine garrisons, but we are taking on Satanic ones in his name. Every time we fight a temptation, kill our sin, fight the good fight of faith, every time we work for kingdom advances by preaching and ministering the gospel, we are taking on a Satanic garrison that would love to harass and oppress that effort. So, we have great need to believe that God can work powerfully through our weakness, so that we go on speaking when it’s hard, and go on praying when things look bleak, and go on loving our enemies though it hurts, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, suffering for his namesake, and bearing witness of him to the world that they might come to know the one who loved us and gave himself for us. Blessed be his name.
So, my brothers and sisters, believe afresh that God can work powerfully through your weakness. And with Jonathan, hope wildly that he will. Fear is a call to exercise bravery, a spirited confidence in God’s power, one that pleases him. And our call is to conquer fear. And we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom 8:37). So, may he establish your every resolve for good and every work of faith by his mighty power (2 Thess 1:11). If your heart so hopes, then do all that is in your heart for Christ and his kingdom. Do as you wish. I am with you heart and soul!
- Pray that we each would have courage to do what God has placed before us.
- Pray for the incoming students preparing to move to Minneapolis and for those still considering where they will attend this fall.
- Pray for those who will attend the Godward Life Conference this fall.