Daily Thought for: 16th April

JONATHAN—HIS EXPLOITS 

1 Samuel 13. 1-4; 14. 1-16, 45; 18. 1-4; 26. 42

Jonathan must warrant inclusion in any collection of Bible ‘worthies’. Living in times of great difficulty for Israel, and with personal circumstances that were complex and demanding, he stands out as a man of many virtues. 

Firstly, we are made aware of leadership qualities, for his first mention tells of his appointment over one thousand men (one-third of the total) chosen out of Israel, 1 Sam. 9. 2. At this time he must have been very young, for this happened in the first year of Saul’s reign, and he had been described at the time of his selection as a ‘choice young man’, 1 Sam. 9. 2. The justification for Jonathan’s appointment as leader was evident immediately, for he led his modest troop of soldiers to a notable victory over the Philistine garrison at Geba, 1 Sam. 13. 3-4. He showed courage of the highest order in leading a personal assault on the enemy garrison at Michmash, with only the support of his young armour-bearer. God rewarded his brave action by working a great victory for Israel that day; ‘he hath wrought with God this day’, 1 Sam. 14. 45. That same day, when Saul would deny sustenance to the fainting Israelites, the sympathy and discernment of Jonathan were apparent in the comments he made, vv. 29-30. Already, in this particular exploit, Jonathan had demonstrated a profound faith in God, summed up in his words, ‘there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few’, v. 6. 

Truly, the qualities of this man were of princely order, so that in the eyes of the people he would have appeared an ideal man to be in line for the throne. But it is in his relationship with David that we perceive virtues of even higher calibre. He showed himself as being a man of highest integrity—one to whom might be entrusted life itself. Again, with David he was self-effacing, even self-sacrificial— prepared to divest himself of the trappings of princedom so as to bestow them on another he deemed to be worthier than himself, 1 Sam. 18. 3-4. But transcendent above all these, and other virtues, was his love for David. From the start, this was love of such depth, and all-consuming passion, that he loved David as his own soul, 1 Sam. 18. 1, 3. It justified David’s description, ‘wonderful, passing the love of women’, 2 Sam. 1. 26. 

 

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