22nd September 2023
Read - 1 Samuel 14:1-23
Message Alan Burke
My life would be so much easier if there were big neon signs in the sky that told me what to do. You know fine well what I mean by that, life is complicated, there are times that we are left with choices before us and we fret over them, it becomes a dilemma. Like it’s Friday night and maybe you’re getting a wee treat for your tea, well is it going to be a Chinese or a Kebab, and if its a kebab which kebab shop, if its the Chinese then which option out of the multiple combinations that are there should we choose, unless you’re like me who has the same thing every time and I’m happy with it so why make the choice difficult after all what if I’m disappointed. Making some choices are easier than others aren’t they? In our lives my hope is that we are trying to honour the Lord our God in those choices that we make and in how we live bringing glory to him but there are some times we are faced with a right dilemma of what to do. Today as we once more come to this passage we are going to focus on Jonathan, he seeks the Lord for a sign and we might think that that is a good idea to help us when we are presented with a dilemma in our lives but lets hold our horses a minute and look to what happens and to look to what the scriptures teach.
Now remember he and his armour bearer had left Saul and the rest of the fighting force to go and scout out the assembled Philistines at Micmash. They were as numerous as the sand on the sea shore whereas Saul had 600 and Jonathan had 1. Jonathan had went to scout out the assembled Philistines. They went towards Micmash and the details stick out as we are told the name of the cliffs. Translated literally, cliff means tooth of rock in Hebrew, then the names Bozez and Seneh while they mean nothing to us they mean slippery and thorny. What is being portrayed to us here is the challenge and the peril that there was for Jonathan and his armour bearer even attempting this assent to the Philistine camp and no wonder the Philistines choose this location because it was nigh on impossible for someone to ascend and attack you from this flank. In the midst of this Jonathan continues on saying v6. ‘Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf’ Jonathan believed that if it was the Lord’s desire they would have victory.
The armour bearer sees the faith of Jonathan and is willing to follow even what looks like certain death, from the cliff like a tooth of rock with its slippery and thorny assent. The perhaps is now added to by Jonathan as he seeks a sign, it comes in v8-10 Jonathan is going to show himself to the Philistines and if they say wait to we come to you it is a sign that it was not the Lord’s way but if they told Jonathan and his armour bearer to come to them it was a sign that the Lord willed they had the victory. We may be tempted to think well that is what we should do, seek dreams, visions, put out fleeces, open doors, pick random bible verses, cast lots? Well scripture elsewhere clearly warns against asking for such signs. The Old Testament law itself prohibited putting God to the test (Deut 6:16) and we are in a very different position than Jonathan, we have the complete revelation of God to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, we have all that we need to make decisions, God has given us his word, he has given us his son. Instead of looking for a sign at each and every fork in the road we should look to his word, his revealed work, his plan for our lives: to love Him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like. Which takeout should I have, is neither here nor there, yet in whatever we do we should do all for the glory of God.
Finally just so we don’t miss it in this passage, in the end God gives Jonathan the victory, it wasn’t Jonathan and how great he was it was the Lord, the Lord rescued Isreal that day and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven (v23). In all of this God used Jonathan, it wasn’t Jonathan who had the victory, who brought salvation for the people it was God who brought salvation, salvation is the Lord’s. The message of the word of God is that he is the one who brings salvation for his people and ultimately he brings the salvation that his people so need, not from the Philistines but from their sin, that salvation just like the salvation that the Israelites experienced that day is all of God through Jesus Christ.
Q53 Which is the third commandment?
The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exod. 20:7)