1 Samuel 14:1-23
There is some brief backstory to this text which is helpful. The time of the judges is ending, the period of the kings is beginning (with Samuel acting as hinge- he is the final judge, and a prophet, and anointing the new kingly line, Saul and then David). So at this point in ch. 14, Saul is king, and Jonathan is his son, so naturally next in kingly succession. Yet Saul is about to abdicate the throne by his rebellion against God in ch. 15. Here in ch. 14, we see some clear hints of the weakness of Saul’s leadership, and this brings us around to the text- manly men must rise up when there is a crisis of leadership, and this is exactly what Jonathan did.
Let’s look at the immediate context of the narrative. We see in ch. 13 that the Philistines and the Israelites were in serious conflict. The Philistines had a garrison of soldiers in southern Israel, and in 13:1-4 Jonathan took his troops and attacked (and apparently defeated) the garrison of the Philistines. The Philistines then declared war on Israel and assembled their army; in 13:5 we see that there were many thousands of very well-trained and equipped Philistine troops (some estimates up to 60,000), while there were only a few thousand Jewish troops, poorly trained and even more poorly equipped. Indeed, the situation looked so bad for Israel that many of the Israelites ran from the battle and hid, so that in 13:15, there were only six hundred Israeli soldiers left.
But the Jews are the people of God, and the people of God (who presumably are on God’s side, and have God on their side) do not run and hide in the face of danger, so the Jews needed a champion. As we see numerous times in 1 Samuel, though Saul was the king, he was not the champion of the people. He had an amazing physique but a very weak mind, and an even weaker spirit, and was not at all a manly man. So into the void of his leadership stepped his son.
We see three characteristics of Jonathan’s manly nature this morning.