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Scripture Commentary — 1 Samuel 14:1-28

Jonathan defeats a garrison

1 Samuel 13 —  background for the events in 1 Samuel 14

Verse 13:3

  • Jonathan has recently defeated a garrison of Philistine soldiers; a garrison was large enough to secure and guard a city.

Verses 13:4-5 

  • The Philistines are incensed at this recent loss and assemble a vast army to retaliate against Jonathan and his forces.

Verses 13:6-7

  • The Israelites flee and hide in fear.  Those who remain with Saul tremble and cower in fear.

 Verses 13:9-14

  • Saul, without permission, offers a sacrifice.  He offends the prophet and the Lord, and loses his kingship.

Verse 13:19-22

  • The Philistines didn’t allow Israel (or Israel lacked the ability) to have or make iron weapons.  Only Saul and Jonathan were armed.

Discussion of 1 Samuel 14:1-28

Verse 14:1

  • Jonathan displays great faith in God and great confidence in his armor bearer.  Was he brash and foolhardy?  No, he was faithful and courageous in the strength of the Lord (see also 1 Nephi 17:50-51 and Alma 26:12).
  • “…told not his father…” — 1) didn’t trust or respect him?!  2) didn’t want him to worry?  3) knew that his father would not allow him to go?  4) is it a good idea not to inform parents?

Verse 14:6

  • “the Lord will work for us…” — unflagging faith, at the moment there were only TWO facing a garrison (refer to 1 Nephi 3:7 and Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
  • “…there is no restraint…” — faith, valor, courage, trust!  How do we confront our challenges?
  • Jonathan mentions THE LORD twice!  He is fully aware of the source of his strength.

Verses 14:7

  • “…I am with thee…” — complete obedience and trust.  Do we support our leaders and friends in this manner?  He had no weapon initially (see 13:22).  What a companion!

Verses 14:8-10

  • “…this shall be a sign…” — they didn’t proceed recklessly.  They made sure they were doing the Lord’s will.  Confidence PLUS inspiration!

Verses 14:11-12

  • “…discovered themselves…” — no sneaking or hiding.
  • “…out of the holes”, “…shew you a thing…” — open mockery.
  • “…come up after me…” — Jonathan went first, a true leader.
  • “…the Lord hath delivered them” — we have already won!  Absolute trust in the Lord.  Astounding faith and confidence.
  • “…of Israel…” — not OUR hands.  We are only instruments in God’s hands.

Verse 14:13

  • “…hands and feet…” — steep cliff, already tired.  Prepared and physically fit.
  • They had to fight!  The Lord didn’t induce comas or deep sleep.

Verse 14:15

  • “…the earth quaked…” — Jonathan first showed his faith and then the Lord intervened.  Compare Ether 12:6 (no witness until after the trial of your faith).
  • Faith precedes the miracle!

Verses 14:16

  • Chaos ensued.

 Verse 14:23

  • “The Lord saved Israel” — using 2 very courageous young men to accomplish that saving of Israel.

Lessons to be learned from this amazing experience:

  • “Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not.”  Doctrine and Covenants section 6
  • What ‘Philistine garrisons’ confront us in our personal lives?  What insurmountable odds do we face?
  • Jonathan chose companions wisely, moved forward with faith, and trusted the Lord.
  • Jonathan chose ONE companion to go with him.  Who would we choose?
  • The Lord waited for Jonathan to do something, but didn’t require him to do everything!

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