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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 14

Verses 1-52

1 Samuel 14:0

These were evil days for the people of Israel. But it was in these dark days that Jonathan shone so famous. It is yet true that difficulties prove our mettle, and that the greater the hardship or peril, the more is the victory worth telling. We learn from this chapter

I. That the presence of the enemy should rouse our courage. Jonathan could not allow the Philistines to be even at Michmash, strong as it was, without ever striking a blow. Is there not need for more chivalry among the soldiers of Christ?

II. It was Jonathan who conceived the plan of attacking the Philistines, which leads us to say that princes should set the example. It is a shame when a private has to lead a forlorn hope, and yet too often in Church history we find the poor and ignorant more full of zeal for God than the rich and learned.

III. Earnest leaders should not lack brave followers. We are not told the name of the young man who was Jonathan's armour-bearer, but he was worthy of the situation. The best of leaders is all the better for the knowledge that his followers will not fail him. Let those of us whose place is not to lead yet help our Commander by acting, so that whenever He looks at us He will see our faces say, "I am with Thee according to Thine heart."

IV. Jonathan knew that God can win by a minority. If, in fighting the Lord's battles, we wait till we can outnumber the foe, we shall never do exploits. Joshua and Caleb were outvoted, but they said, "Let us go up and possess it." The fewer there are, the more room for Omnipotence. The units of Christian workers are the thin edge of the wedge.

V. At the battle of Michmash, we have been taught that God helps those who help themselves. God works by means, and delights in co-operating with His people. Do not wait till the enemy has fled, but turn the battle by your bravery, even if it be by a single hand.

T. Champness, New Coins from Old Gold, p. 255.

References: 1 Samuel 14:6 . Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. i., p. 37. 1 Samuel 14:24 . W. Hanna, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 281.

Verses 43-44

1 Samuel 14:43-44

Saul had a right to give this general order that there should be no stopping; that that day should be dedicated to the overthrow of the enemy; that no man should taste food. And yet in this, as in all Saul's conduct, there was a certain excess an immoderation which carried it to rashness. For while, as a general order, it was wise, to make it special and particular was not wise. Jonathan made the poorest plea for a good cause that was ever made. Instead of saying, "I did not know your commands;" instead of saying, "Under God's providence, the time came when that command ought to have been set aside for the sake of destroying the Philistines" instead of saying these things, he said, "I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand."

I. A little thing is always enough for disobedience. Besides, there was in his heart the idea that moral quality depended in some sense upon magnitude. Little things become important as a part of a series that is, by aggregation. They collect and become powerful unities.

II. A little thing, or that which men call little, may be very trifling indeed for one purpose and in one direction; and yet for another purpose and in another direction it may be extremely potent.

III. Single actions may be insignificant, and yet by repetition may become well-nigh omnipotent.

IV. There are times when the soul stands at equipoise, and when it will take very little to carry down the scale. At such times we must be careful of little things. The breaking off of one bad habit may be the first of a series of steps which will lead to a spiritual change.

H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 5th series, p. 147.

References: 1 Samuel 14:6 . Parker, vol. vii., p. 68. 1 Samuel 14:14 . Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 521. 1 Samuel 14:27 . S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 1. 1 Samuel 14:37 . Parker, vol. vii., p. 68. 1 Samuel 14:44 . Ibid., p. 69. 1 Samuel 14:52 . Ibid., p. 70. 1 Samuel 14:0 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 356.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 14". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sbc/1-samuel-14.html.