Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Daily Bible Reading - April 28 - By Many or By Few

I love the story of Jonathan and his armor-bearer in 1 Samuel 14. During one of Israel's recurrent conflicts with the Philistines, Jonathan decided to do some scouting, and came upon a Philistine garrison. Undaunted, Jonathan said to his armor-bearer:
"Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few." (1 Sam. 14:6).
Jonathan was willing to take on an entire detachment of Philistines - not because he was arrogant and cocky - but because he had total faith in the power of God to grant victory, even through the hands of just two Israelites. Later he expressed complete confidence that "the Lord has given them into our hand" (1 Sam. 14:10). And sure enough, Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty Philistines, and in the process sent the camp of the enemy into a panic (1 Sam. 14:14-15).

Israel did not always win such dramatic victories because the nation was not always faithful to God. Without God's help, it did not matter if Israel had overwhelming numbers on its side - it would lose (see Josh. 7:3-5). Their strength was the Lord. As the psalmist said:
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters. (Psalm 124:1-5)

But with God, His people are unstoppable. Two courageous Israelites can defeat a fortress of Philistines. One young shepherd can vanquish a giant. Twelve apostles can turn the world upside down with the message of the gospel. The Lord can save by many or by few - and that includes me and you.

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