SynopsisAs this passage begins, Saul and six hundred of his men are staying on the outskirts of Gibeah, along with a priest named Ahijah. But one day Jonathan decides to go over to the Philistine outpost, and brings his armour-bearer with him. He doesn’t tell his father, he just goes.
The outpost that Jonathan is approaching is at the top of a cliff, and Jonathan decides to ask for a roundabout sign from the LORD as to whether he should attack, because he knows that, “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few” (verse 14:6c). They’ll show themselves to the Philistines, and see what they say; if they ask Jonathan and his armour-bearer to stay where they are, then they’ll obey, but if they tell them to come up to the top of the cliff, they’ll consider that a sign that the LORD has delivered the Philistines into their hands.
The armour-bearer is all for it, so they try it. And when the Philistines see Jonathan and his armour-bearer, they ask them to come up. And they do:
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. In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre. (verses 14:13–14)
ThoughtsI don’t know if it’s important that there is a priest with Saul or not. It might be, simply because God obviously wants to deliver the Philistines into the hands of the Israelites—perhaps the priest should have known that? Or should Saul have been asking him the right questions, to know if he should attack or not? In any event, this chapter makes Jonathan seem more brave then the other Israelite soldiers. Or maybe he’s just more brash?
In any event, whether it’s bravery which is fuelling him or just the bravado of youth, one thing is for certain: it’s the LORD he is trusting in, not his own strength.