The Philistine army has 30,000 chariots (some manuscripts say 3000), 6000 horsemen and too many foot soldiers to count. Saul has 600 in his army. So why would Saul’s son want to go and provoke a fight? We may never know, but that is precisely what Jonathan and his armor-bearer do. These two soldiers from a ragtag army scramble up a cliff face to meet their foe. How pathetic they must’ve looked from the viewpoint of any bystander. Yet, they were doing acts of faith.
“Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him.” I Samuel 14:13
Facing Enormous Competition | Acts of Faith
Two lonely soldiers are climbing hand over foot up a massive rock wall face to confront an army that defies description. Just to put this in perspective, the US Army landed 32,000 troops onto Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. And the greatest tank battle of all time only involved a total of about 8000 tanks. Here, we have 30,000 “ancient tanks” and many troops!
In this unorthodox context, Jonathan and his right-hand man plant each foot on a stone, curl their fingers around an outcropping of rock and repeat the grueling process until they reach the chosen battleground. One foot, one hand at a time. What kind of courage was this that would take that first step to try and do the impossible?
The Philistine troops above would’ve barely heard a few rocks tumble at their approach. But now the fight is on, and Jonathan is surprisingly victorious! Two men, against staggering odds, and yet the enemy begins to crumble one soldier at a time. Twenty men cut down in their strength by the young prince. But what next? A 20 to 1 kill ratio is impressive but is it sustainable? Not by human hands.
“And there was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earth quaked, and it became a very great panic.” 1 Samuel 14:15
A simple man’s footstep precedes a thunderous interjection by the One True Almighty God. And so it is; God’s servants step out in faith against impossible odds and God Himself is their rear guard. The sword of Jonathan inflicts its damage, and then God steps in. The whole earth trembles and the terror of Yahweh spreads throughout the seemingly invincible army. Saul’s watchmen stare in amazement as God shakes the earth and His enemies scatter!
How Acts of Faith Show Servant Leadership
And so it is with simple acts of faith. One footstep, one alabaster jar, one staff, one cast of the net, one scepter extended; Jesus uses one towel to wash some dirty feet and exemplifies the concept of true servant-leadership for ages. So, what will I do in faith today? How will my hands serve, and where will my feet take the Gospel? God watches and waits. His eyes roam, looking for simple acts of faith and faithfulness among his people.
For more reading materials on the acts of faith and the vertical victory, see below: