Just Plain Stupid
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, 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. (1Sa 14:6)
When I read stories in the Bible like this one in 1 Samuel I find it helps to imagine myself there on the spot. After all, these are realevents and not just made up stories. Imagine for a moment you are Jonathan's armor bearer. Jonathan says, "Hey, how about the two of us go over and attack that army?" The typical human response would be something like, "Jonathan, are you arrogant, crazy or are you just stupid?" Two men going up against a whole garrison is stupid! At least, it would be except for one thing: God is on their side.
So, off they go, taunting the guard, scrambling up the cliff "on hands and feet." What happens next is remarkable. They kill a few of the guards ("about twenty men") and then the whole encampment goes crazy with confusion and start killing each other! On top of that God sends an earthquake to stir things up, and mercenaries among the Philistines switch sides and start killing the Philistines too! Finally, the rest of the Israelites see what is going on and join the fight. At the end of the day it is a total rout of the Philistines.
God doesn't need a big army of men to accomplish His will. As Jonathan points out, God can save by many or by few. What has to happen is someone has to stand up, by faith, and act on what God said to do. That's it. God then comes in and pours it on. That one man, acting by faith, is all that is needed to get things started.
Now, you would think that after what Jonathan did, everything would be perfect. There is more to this story, however. Notice that Jonathan didn't bother to tell Saul where he was going. Saul has backed off in fear and confusion. Even worse, Saul gives a really stupid command. He tells his small army to go on a fast. I think that's so typical of man. Saul has all the appearance of doing something righteous when in fact he is doing something stupid. Saul has been doing stupid things before (chapter 13), is going to do stupid things later (chapter 15) so it shouldn't come as a surprise. Jonathan does something that seems stupid, but is smart because it is what God wants done. Saul does things that seem smart, but are stupid because they go against what God wants done. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he hasn't heard this, violates the order, and creates a problem. When the other Israelites tell Jonathan about Saul's command, Jonathan's response is pretty much "That's stupid." (1Sa 14:29)
And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day. And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of thep eople: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day. (1Sa 14:37-38)
Now Saul wants to ask God what to do only God won't talk to Saul anymore, so Saul decides there must be some sin that is the problem. Notice that Saul assumes it must be somebody else that is the problem. After all, it couldn't be Saul that is the problem! Yet, it was Saul's stupidity that caused the whole problem to begin with. Nevertheless, Saul is King! Saul is going to find out who violated the command and kill him. The end result is that Jonathan is the one in trouble. Saul's impatience, impertinence and arrogance puts him in the position that he has just condemned his own son - the very person that has been doing what God wanted done all along! Talk about "stupid!" Fortunately, the Israelites aren't about to go along with this and Jonathan is not killed.
The contrast between Jonathan and Saul is a good lesson to learn. We have to be like Jonathan and not like Saul. It also helps me understand some of the trials we face. It seems that we overcome an impossible situation by faith, only to be run over by some self-righteous jerk who will not and probably cannot, understand what is going on. Sometimes, I think, people who appear to lack faith are maybe not so much evil as they are just plain stupid.