1 Samuel 13:15-14:23 "The Portrait Hall": The Tiny Army

We live in a time that despises the small things! Victory is not always found in the hands of the biggest group. Sometimes God decides to use the small, the insignificant, to challenge and defeat the big. God doesn’t need size to create strength and impact. He knows how to use the small!

Key Principle: God can do great things through few people and small resources.

What three ingredients were required to bring about victory? (13:15-22)

  1. It would require inordinate Courage: The force was small comparative to the size of the opposition (13:15 cp. 13:5).
  2. The setting required total Commitment: The opposition was near but separated by deep valleys. One side had to commit to raise the army of the other (13:16).
  3. The situation forced a Critical Response: The enemy launched a three pronged attack to cut off the major routes in the country and starve out the army of Saul (13:17-18). Cutting off the supply lines they also removed any ability to make weapons in Israel. This meant the situation was becoming more grave with each day. Israelites could not fight well in close quarters with the enemy (they were slingers and archers but not armed infantry – 13:19-22).

How did victory come about? (14:1-15)

  1. Planning (Reconnaissance): Jonathan took his loyal guard and attempted to spy and perhaps attack a small outpost near to Gibeah, but he did not inform his father (14:1). Saul seemed paralyzed in consultation (14:2-3). Jonathan had to climb down and scale up to the plateau of the fortified garrison (14:4-5).
  1. Proving: Jonathan told his guard, “Let’s go to them and see if God will choose to defeat them through us” and his guard agreed (14:6-7). Jonathan said, “We’ll go and be seen. If they say they will come to us, we will do nothing. If they tell us to come to them (they will think we are too close to hurt them) and we will see God defeat them, and they did (14:8-12).
  1. Performing: Jonathan went in confidence and took them on, defeating twenty or so men and chasing them (14:13-14). God sent a panic to disrupt the Philistines and enforce the tiny attack (14:15).

What weaknesses were exposed in the victory? (14:16-23)

  1. Scattering of the unfaithful: Israel’s men were also scared and some left Saul’s side, forcing him to recount the number left and discover Jonathan’s departure (14:16-17).
  2. Misjudgment of the misguided: Saul told the priest to bring the Ark, but when the confusion ensued, he decided to leave his time listening to the Lord and move with haste for military advantage (14:18-19).
  3. Confusion of the Enemy: Saul arrived to see the Philistines battling internally for control, and Israelites that had sided with Philistine protection came to the side of Saul. The Lord gave Saul’s men victory in the hill country (14:20-23).