Summary of sermon by Albu van Eeden, 10 May 2015
6 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”
11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.”12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.”
So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.”
13 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. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.
15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.[a]
16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions.
During this time, Israel was so to say without a leader. Saul had sinned against God and lost contact with God. David was the anointed of the Lord. The Lord gave Israel victory over Goliath and the Philistines through the hands of David. Even Jonathan acknowledged to David that he knew he would become king. But at this time David could not yet lead the nation. His hands were tied because of Saul’s persecution. Saul became a symbol of the devil. David was cast out of God’s inheritance for a time and had to live outside Israel. He was pushed aside and he could no longer lead Israel in battle. It was a difficult time. Saul was full of hatred and jealousy, in spite of all David’s humility and goodness towards Saul. Even when Saul was in David’s hand, he twice spared his life. That didn’t help and Saul continued to persecute David. Nobody came to David’s help. He was left all alone, and had to live as a fugitive.
This incident we read about was during a battle. Saul started with 3,000 men to fight against the Philistines and eventually he ended up with only 600. And Saul acted more foolishly in that he forbade his soldiers to eat any food until the evening. He was applying a principle from God’s Word, of fasting, but at the wrong time. Why? Because there was sin in his life. And so if there’s sin in your life, a sin ruling your life, you may read God’s Word and apply principles from God’s Word, but apply them at the wrong time and place, and in the wrong way.
The Christian life starts with humility. It starts with you and me being convicted of our sin. Where you don’t come to God with a smile on your face but with a broken heart. This mystery was hidden from Saul.
A certain building contractor spoke to dr Albu that God had told him that there was something that would keep him out of heaven. He had been in charge of the tenders for new contracts, before he himself became a building contractor. At one time he got tenders for a certain project. There was this specific one that also put in a tender, but then phoned him 2 weeks later that he wanted to build him a swimming pool for his house. Nothing was said about bribing and even if the conversation would have been taped, nothing could be proven. He didn’t even agree specifically to them building the swimming pool, but before he knew it a truck arrived with all the equipment and men to build him the swimming pool and they built it. Others quoted much cheaper, but he eventually gave that man the contract. This thing bothered him for years and he couldn’t sleep because of it. Eventually he decided to humble himself and bring it to the light and confess it. It required great humility to acknowledge that.
Jonathan was in a very difficult spot. Saul was his own father. He knew that he was the next in line to become king. But at the same time he knew that David was the anointed of God. One can just imagine how the devil whispered into Jonathan’s ear. “Who is David? You were born a prince. And your father was anointed by God to be king”. Jonathan had the kingdom so to say in his hands. That’s what makes some temptations the most difficult to resist. When the devil puts what your flesh desires right in your lap. When you’re a young man and there’s a young girl running after you and you know that you have her in your hand. You can virtually touch the sin, it’s right in front of you. The devil gives it to you in a silver tray. That’s the position Jonathan was in. His father Saul was growing old and the kingdom so to say already belonged to him. And more than that, if he would be humble and submit that David would be king, there would be no earthly reward for being obedient, humble and faithful, living in the fear of God. Jonathan’s secret was humility.
Humility is a fortress that keeps you and me from sinning. People tend to become dizzy with pride when God lifts them up. But not a true child of God. David prayed “Lord lead me onto a rock that is higher than I” (Ps 61:2).
Sometimes God leaves us alone in order to test us whether there is pride in our lives. God did that to Moses. When Israel built the golden calf, and God’s anger burned against Israel, He said to Moses, let Me wipe Israel out and make a new nation from you (Ex 32:10). Moses could choose to become a great nation, and God would do it as He had said. God gave Moses a choice to see what was in his heart. But because of his humility and his love for God and His people, he intervened and reasoned with God. That’s the most difficult times when God leaves us alone to see what is in our hearts, where He purposefully leaves us to make a choice.
God also left king Hezekiah alone during the visit of the emissaries from Babylon to see what was in his heart (2Chron 32:31). Hezekiah failed the test. The pride in the heart of Hezekiah did to him what the army of the Assyrians couldn’t do.
Pride brings contention and strife (Prov 13:10).
What was the next temptation for Jonathan?
To just sit down and do nothing. He could have thought, “I won’t fight against David because he’s God’s anointed. But I also won’t fight against the Philistines”. But no, his humility gave him godly zeal to do what’s right and fight against God’s enemies. Humility doesn’t mean that you become a jellyfish and allow evil to carry on and flourish! That was the curse of the rest of the nation of Israel. They became passive because there was no clear leader. They just allowed evil to flourish. That is not humility. That in fact is a sign of pride, because you’re not burning for God and against satan.
Are you still on fire for God? Have you lost your fire for God and desire to stand up and do what’s right? That is important in your personal life, but it’s also important on a national scale? People are trying to legalise dagga. Are you happy to simply mind your own business or do you become angry when you see evil coming over the country? They’ve been trying to legalise euthanasia. What are you doing? Are you organising an action group? That is what the pro-euthanasia lobby is doing.
Jonathan was no jellyfish. He was on fire for God. When everyone had lost hope, this man who was in the most difficult position and had every reason to lose hope, was in tune with God to act and get the victory over the Philistines. He didn’t need a priest to burn incense for him or do specific rituals. No, because his life was right with God and he had a living relationship with the Living God, God could speak to him and lead and guide him. Israel was outnumbered by the Philistines. But he kept the faith and trusted God, even though they were just two. And God gave them a great victory.
Jonathan was a type of Christ in that he was willing to give up his position and even his life for his friends just as Jesus gave up His life for His friends. Saul, his own father, wanted to kill him, because of his allegiance to David. John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Jonathan also interceded for his friend. He reasoned with his father on behalf of David. Christ intercedes for us too against the great accuser satan. Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Heb 7:25, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
Jonathan encouraged David. He sent messages to David and even went to David to strengthen him. So Christ encourages His friends. The Bible is full of examples, e.g. “fear not for I am with you till the end of the world” (Matt 28:20). Jonathan was faithful to God till the end. He did not grow lukewarm. May God grant that we too would stay on fire for God.