One of the tricky things about going through a book like 1 Samuel at the pace we are is that you don't always have time to linger on some great moments and characters. One such character is Jonathan who is an absolute legend and in last week's passage he said something that makes my spine tingle. With only his armour bearer for company and confronted with a whole Philistine Garrison he said this: '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.'
He then basically says to his companion 'if they say to us ‘come and have a go if you think you're hard enough' we'll take it as a sign that the Lord has given us the victory.' I'd be looking for signs like them looking exhausted or frightened or depleted in numbers. Not Jonathan. He is seriously gutsy and spoiling for a fight.
But of course his courage doesn't just come from the fact that he's a testosterone-fuelled man. It comes from what he knows about God. Nothing but nothing can hinder God from saving, and so he steps out in death-defying faith.
Jonathan and Jesus As always with Bible characters we've got to ask the question who does he represent? This episode in Jonathan's life appears in between King Saul's two spectacular fails in chapters 13 and 15. The author seems to make a point by comparing and contrasting them and the point is simple: Jonathan's example is what true kingly behaviour looks like.
That means that this text is meant, in the first instance, to point us to the true king. And when we think about the one who boldly walked towards the cross, going toe-to-toe with the opposition, determined to do the will of God, confident in God's ability to save, the comparison is obvious. Our King Jesus went to the cross with all of the courage of a warrior stepping out to battle and it should make your spine tingle when you look at it that way.
Jonathan and us But as the story goes on in 1 Samuel we are going to see that Jonathan is a character who sets an example for us. God is still the same God who is powerful to save by many or by few which is good news in a setting where Christians are in the minority.
The powerful forces of secularism, atheism, moral relativism, political correctness and apathy can sometimes seem overwhelming in their opposition to the gospel. We often feel like the only ones in our workplaces or homes who believe these things. The cause can sometimes look lost. That's when we need to remember Jonathan. Or specifically to remember what Jonathan remembered. Nothing can stop God saving people. And when we really know that, radical risk-taking faith is what follows.