Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

November 24, 1898

The First King of Israel—No. 3

After this severe rebuke, Samuel left Saul to pursue his own way and follow his own impulses; and Saul found that the work left for him to do he had left undone. He had not acted his part as a kingly general over armies. The Hebrews had depended upon the facilities of the Philistines for their instruments of war. The Philistines had been wiser than the Hebrews, and had worked diligently to prevent them from learning to make their own swords and spears. And when the crisis came, there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel. “So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.”

Thus Saul was left without special direction from the Lord, and he knew not what to do. He had but a small army, and this was incomplete and unorganized, many of his soldiers hiding away for fear. As he looked at the immense armies of the Philistines, he felt that he must trust to his own skill and aptitude for success.

In Jonathan, the son of Saul, the Lord saw a man of pure integrity,—one to whom he could draw nigh, and upon whose heart he could move.

“Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father. And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate-tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men.... And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.

“And his armor-bearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves to them. If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the Lord hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.”

These two men gave evidence that they were moving under the influence and command of a more than human general. To outward appearance, their venture was rash, and contrary to all military rules. But the action of Jonathan was not done in human rashness. He depended not on what he and his armor-bearer themselves could do; he was the instrument that God used in behalf of his people Israel. They made their plans, and rested their cause in the hands of God. If the armies of the Philistines challenged them, they would advance. If they said, Come, they would go forward. This was their sign, and the angels of God prospered them. They went forward, saying, “It may be that the Lord will work for us.”

“And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves.” Their enemies knew of the weakness of the armies of Israel, of their hiding in the holes and the secret places, and they taunted Jonathan and his armor-bearer for this cowardice. The men of the garrison said: “Come up to us, and we will show you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armor-bearer, Come up after me: for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.”

Jonathan and his armor-bearer had asked a sign of the Lord; and the challenge had come, the sign was given. These two men placed their hope in God, and went forward.

It was no easy passage for the brave adventurers. They had hard climbing to reach the top. On the top of the precipice was the camp of the Philistines; the two armies were in sight of each other; but up the steep sides of this rocky eminence, Jonathan and his armor-bearer ventured, using hands and feet in their climb, and saying at each step, “The Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel.”

It would have been an easy matter for the Philistines to kill these two brave, daring men; but it did not enter into their minds that these two solitary men had come up with any hostile intent. The wondering men above looked on, too surprised to take in their possible object. They regarded these men as deserters, and permitted them to come without harm.

“And they fell before Jonathan; and his armor-bearer slew after him. And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.”

This daring work sent a panic through the camp. There lay the dead bodies of twenty men, and to the sight of the enemy there seemed hundreds of men prepared for war. The armies of heaven were revealed to the opposing host of the Philistines. “There was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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