I am finding the journey through 1 Samuel on Sunday mornings inspiring – aren’t you? Darol’s last two sermons about the actions and hearts of Saul and Jonathan have been rich with practical application; I love how God uses men thousands of years back and thousands of miles away to show us what’s going on in our own hearts.
The story of Jonathan’s victory over the Philistines that we just heard about in 1 Samuel 14 is truly amazing. What an awesome sight it must have been to watch the Philistine army “melting away in all directions” (v. 16) after the Lord caused their panic and sent the earthquake.
We know the Israelites were oppressed and the weaker army in number, but the part that I find particularly astounding is that they didn’t even have any swords or spears (apart from Saul and Jonathan)! The previous chapter in 1 Samuel tells us that the Philistines had instituted a policy which banned all blacksmiths from the Israelite territory. Not only did this mean they wouldn’t be able to forge weapons, but anytime they wanted to fix or create agricultural tools, they had to go to the Philistine blacksmiths and pay them!
This has struck me (haha) in a couple of ways. First, those Philistines were genius. This wasn’t the only time this policy was enacted against the Israelites in their Old Testament history, as other kings realized how powerful this was. The simple act of not granting any blacksmithing “licenses” effectively crippled their national defense.
But, secondly, look how great God is. No amount of human genius policy-making can outsmart or overpower Him, or His people. The Philistines took away the Israelites’ ability to make weapons, but God had a few other weapons still up his sleeve. Thunder, earthquakes, storms, making the sun still — it’s just not a level playing field when you’re fighting against God.
In fact, in verse 20 of chapter 14 we see that the Philistines are defeating themselves – with their own swords! They’re all turning on each other. Oh, the irony. The very weapons that were to be a giant advantage for the Philistines were a significant part of their undoing.
In our current days of political confusion, strife, and uncertainty, perhaps we can find reassurance from this passage. With all of the discussions concerning the second amendment, Brexit and nationalism, and growing threats from other countries, it’s easy to begin to feel something between despair and panic. But the stories of God’s people in 1 Samuel remind us that He can protect us from any threat. Even if all of our “weapons” are taken away, He alone is worthy of our trust, our Rock and our Defender.
As our Call to Worship this week aptly reminded us, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” — Psalm 62:5-6
Let us continue to worship Him this week with that thought in mind. The weaponless Israelites were not shaken, as the Psalmist proclaimed – while the Philistines were shook to their very core, quite literally by that earthquake! We, too, can know that He will be our rock and our salvation, regardless of our circumstances, and we need not be shaken.
Mrs. Amy Frank, Guest Blogger and COR Member
*The views of guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect the official position of the pastors or the elected leadership of Church of the Redeemer of the Presbyterian Church in America. This is a form for the free expression of views and opinions of our members and others who are invited to write.