July 7: Recasting Faith
1 Samuel 14:1–52; James 3:1–12; Psalm 119:97–120
Faith is often cast as a type of intellectual pursuit: It’s something our minds rise up to, conform to, or simply agree with. But in the Bible, faith is often portrayed as rather mystical: Jonathan somehow knew that God would act on his behalf if his enemies behaved in a certain way (1 Sam 14:1–15). We don’t know how Jonathan had this foreknowledge—prayer seems to be the only explanation for it—but we recognize that Jonathan had tremendous faith. Who else would take on a garrison of 20 men, armed with only one armor bearer and a hunch? Clearly God was at work.
We see God’s work progress as the Philistines inadvertently turned on one another, and previous enemies of Israel joined in the charge against the Philistines (1 Sam 14:16–23). Jonathan’s simple act of faith served as the catalyst for victory. If he had analyzed his inclination and pursued faith without mystery, the Israelites likely would have failed in their campaign against the Philistines.
Yet the real testimony of faith in this account belongs to the armor bearer. After hearing Jonathan’s plan, the armor bearer said, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul” (1 Sam 14:7). While the armor bearer was obligated to follow the king’s son on pain of death, when faced with what appeared to be inevitable death, he could have played his odds by saying no. This scene tells us more about Jonathan: He was known for his faith in God—so much so that his armor bearer took him at his word.
I often wonder what makes a man heroic and others forever loyal to him. In Jonathan, we find the answer: a history of God working through your life and a dedication to follow the mystery of God’s work among us, no matter what stands against us.
Is your faith primarily intellectual, or is it grounded in the mystery of God? How can you bring more of God’s mystical work into your life?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R.
- Then on a day Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come and let us go over toward the Philistines garrisons, that is yonder on the other side, but he told not his father. And Saul tarried in the border of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree, which was in Migron, and the people that were with him, were about six hundred men. And Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phineas, the son of Eli, was the Lord’s Priest in Shiloh, and wore an Ephod: and the people knew not that Jonathan was gone. Now in the way whereby Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: the name of the one was called Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The one rock stretched from the North toward Michmash, and the other was from the South toward Gibeah. And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work with us: for it is not hard to the Lord to save with many, or with few. And he that bare his armor, said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: go where it pleaseth thee: behold, I am with thee as thine heart desireth. Then said Jonathan, Behold, I we go over unto those men, and will show ourselves unto them. If they say on this wise to us, Tarry until we come to you, then we will stand still in our place, and not go up to them. But if they say, Come up unto us, then we will go up: for the Lord hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. So they both showed themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, See, the Hebrews come out of the holes wherein they had hid themselves. And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armor bearer, and said, Come up to us: for we will show you a thing. Then Jonathan said unto his armor bearer, Come up after me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. So Jonathan went up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armor bearer after him: and some fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer slew others after him. So the first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made, was about twenty men, as it were within half an acre of land which two oxen plow. And there was a fear in the host, and in the field, and among all the people: the garrison also, and they that went out to spoil, were afraid themselves: and the earth trembled: for it was stricken with fear by God. Then the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin saw: and behold, the multitude was discomfited, and smitten as they went. Therefore said Saul unto the people that were with him, Sear now, and see, who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. And Saul said to Ahijah, Bring hither the Ark of God (for the Ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel) And while Saul talked unto the Priest, the noise that was in the host of the Philistines, spread farther abroad and increased: therefore Saul said unto the Priest, Withdraw thine hand. And Saul was assembled with all the people that were with him, and they came to the battle: and behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. Moreover, the Hebrews that were with the Philistines beforetime, and were come with the into all parts of the host, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. Also all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines were fled, they followed after them in the battle. Ad so the Lord saved Israel that day: and the battled continued unto Beth Aven. And at that time the men of Israel were pressed with hunger: for Saul charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth food till night, that I may be avenged of mine enemies: so none of the people tasted any sustenance. And all they of the land came to a wood, where honey lay upon the ground. And the people came into the wood, and behold, the honey dropped, and no man moved his hand to his mouth, and his eyes received sight. Then answered one of the people, and said, the father made the people to swear, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth sustenance this day: and the people were faint. Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see now how mine eyes are made clear, because I have tasted of this honey: How much more, if the people had eaten today of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a greater slaughter among the Philistines? And they smote the Philistines that day, from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were exceedingly faint. So the people turned to the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen and calves and slew them on the ground, and the people did eat them with the blood. Then men told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat the blood. And he said, Ye have trespassed: roll a great stone unto me this day. Again Saul said, Go abroad among the people and bid them bring me every man and his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat, and sin not against the Lord in eating with the blood. And the people brought every man his ox in his hand that night, and slew them there. Then Saul made an altar unto the Lord, and that was the first altar that he made unto the Lord. And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning shine, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever thou thinkest best. Then said the Priest, Let us draw near hither unto God. So Saul asked of God, saying, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hands of Israel? But he answered him not at that time. And Saul said, All ye chief of the people, come ye hither, and know, and see by whom this sin is done this day. For as the Lord liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be done by Jonathan my son, he shall die the death: But none of all the people answered him. Then he said unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what thou thinkest best. Then Saul said unto the Lord God of Israel, Give a perfect lot. And Jonathan and Saul were taken, but the people escaped. And Saul said, Cast lot between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken. Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what though hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I tasted a little honey with the end of the rod, that was in mine hand, and lo, I must die. Again Saul answered, God do so and more also, unless thou die the death, Jonathan. And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath so mightily delivered Israel? God forbid. As the Lord liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground: for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people delivered Jonathan that he died not. Then Saul came up from the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place. So Saul held the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the Kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he went, he handled them as wicked men. He gathered also an host and smote Amalek, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Jishui, and Malchishua: and the names of his two daughters, the elder was called Merab, and the younger was Michal. And the name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of his chief captain was Abner the son of Ner, Saul’s uncle. And Kish was Saul’s father: and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and whomsoever Saul saw to be a strong man, and meet for the war, he took him unto him. 1 Samuel 14:1–52
- My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we sin all. If any man sin not in word, he is a perfect man, and able to bridle all his body. Behold, we put bits into horses’ mouths, that they should obey us, and we turn about all their body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small rudder, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth of great things: behold, how great a thing a little fire kindleth. And the tongue is fire, yea, a world of wickedness: so is the tongue set among our members, that is defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell. For the whole nature of beasts, and of birds, and of creeping things, and things of the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed by the nature of man. But the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of one mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing: my brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at one place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bring forth olives, either a vine figs? so can no fountain make both salt water and sweet. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show by good conversation his works in meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, rejoice not, neither be liars and against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is sedition, and all manner of evil works. But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, the peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace. James 3:1–12
- Oh how love I thy law! it is my meditation continually. But thy commandments thou hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have had more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understood more than the ancient, because I kept thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not declined from my judgments: for thou didst teach me. How sweet are thy promises unto my mouth! yea, more than honey unto my mouth. By thy precepts I have gotten understanding: therefore I hate all the the ways of falsehood. Thy word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my paths. I have sworn and will perform it, that I will keep my righteous judgments. My soul is continually in mine hand: yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me: but I swerved not from thy precepts. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever: for they are the joy of mine heart. I have applied mine heart to fulfill thy statutes always, even unto the end. I hate vain inventions: but thy Law do I love. Thou art me refuge and shield, and I trust in thy word. Away from me, ye wicked: for I will keep the commandments of my God. Stablish me according to thy promise, that I may live, and disappoint me not of mine hope. Stay thou me, and I shall be safe, and I will delight continually in thy statutes. Thou hast trodden down all them that depart from thy statutes: for their deceit is vain. Thou hast taken away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments. Psalm 119:97–120