1 Samuel 13:8-9
He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.
1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “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.”
Let’s imagine for a moment that we have two friends by the name of Tom and Frank. Tom is a man who constantly lives in a state of worry. He lives most of his life constantly afraid of people and his circumstances, and makes most of his decisions out of that fear. Now let’s contrast that with Frank. He is a man who has an unwavering optimism that all situations will work themselves out. He is calm and collected and is not shaken by how people respond to him or by the up and down nature of his circumstances.
Can you think of people in your life who fit these descriptions? Maybe you can even see a little of yourself within them. However, if we turn to the pages of scripture these descriptions perfectly describe the contrast between king Saul and his son Jonathan.
Saul was a man who constantly lived in fear. Right away in the early days of his kingship Saul is called upon to wait for Samuel before offering a sacrifice. As he is waiting, the Philistines are gathering in order to fight against the Israelites, and to make matters worse Samuel is running late. The people of Israel begin to scatter and Saul begins to worry. So instead of waiting on Samuel (and ultimately God) he offers the sacrifice.
Saul was a man more driven by the fear of his circumstances, and other people, than by an unwavering trust in God. As a result, when Samuel finally comes, he confronts Saul and Says:
But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:14)
Saul was rejected as king because it became clear that he was not a man driven by his love for and trust in God; rather, he was a man driven by the fear of other men and his circumstances. His view of God was small, and the fear and weight of his circumstances were big and heavy upon him.
Now let’s contrast that with Saul’s son Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 14 Saul and Jonathan are now traveling with a small army of men that numbers about 600 (which is super small when you consider that the Philistines had thousands and thousands of men). Jonathan decides that he, and he alone, along with his armor bearer, is going to go over to the Philistines. Why did he go? 1 Samuel 14:6 says:
“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 went because he believed that God could and would bring about a great victory and salvation for the Israelites. He had an unwavering hope in God and his ability to do a great work for him and his people. God then works through Jonathan to send the Philistines into such a great panic that they begin to kill themselves and in turn runaway.
Jonathan believed God and saw that he was bigger than his circumstances, which meant that he believed that this battle was God’s to win not his, and as a result he saw God work powerfully for him and his people.
So where are you today? How are you facing the ever changing circumstances of your life? Are you like Saul believing that your circumstances are bigger than God and somehow are dependent upon you, or are you like Jonathan believing that the circumstances of your life are in God’s hands?
Wherever you are today be encouraged that their is a God who is not only sovereign over every aspect of your live, but is in control of all of the circumstances and happenings of his creation. And this God, because of the finished work of his son Jesus Christ, is working in all things for the amazing good of his own people. Meaning, that just as he provided a great salvation through Jonathan for his people, he is also working in the lives of his people today to bring about what is for their present and eternal good.
However, I also hope that you will see the warning. If we choose to live a life believing that our circumstances are greater than God or are dependent upon us, then we will constantly be living lives of fear. We will make decisions not out of a robust and unwavering faith that God will work in and through our circumstances, but instead we will make decisions out of fear believing that everything depends on us. This not only will cause us to live lives full of anxiety, restlessness, depression, and possibly anger, but at the end of the day we may end up rejecting God and his rule over our lives completely.
In the end we end up without hope both in this life and in eternity.
So by God’s grace walk in the reality of the bigness and greatness of God today. Believe that he can and will work mightily in the circumstances of your life. And know and believe that because of Christ he is producing great good both within your present situation and in your eternity that is to come.