Tuesday, February 27, 2007

1 Samuel 14 – A Treasure-trove for Leadership Issues

1 Samuel 14 is one of the most fascinating passages for me concerning authority and submission in the entire Bible. I’m sure many weighty and practical sermons or chapters could be written on leading and following just from this one chapter.

I have counted at least 24 parts of this passage that are directly related to a biblical understanding of authority, here are a few of the key sections that stand out to me:

1) Jonathan acts without telling his commanding officer (his father who also happens to be the king of Israel) what he is doing: “But he did not tell his father.” (1 Sam 14:1)

2) Jonathan’s armor-bearer obeys/follows wholeheartedly: “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” (1 Sam 14:7)

3) Saul hesitates to join the battle by ordering a role call after feeling the earth quake and hearing the report that the enemy camp was in mass confusion: “‘Count and see who has gone from us.’ And when they had counted, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there.” (1 Sam 14:17)

4) Saul calls for the ephod (or possibly the ark) only cast it aside before an answer was given: “So Saul said to the priest, ‘Withdraw your hand.’” (1 Sam 14:19)

5) Saul makes a rash vow: “So Saul had laid an oath on the people, saying, ‘Cursed be the man who eats food until it is evening and I am avenged on my enemies.’” (1 Sam 14:24)

6) Jonathan complains about his father’s rash vow: “Then Jonathan said, ‘My father has troubled the land. See how my eyes have become bright because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies that they found. For now the defeat among the Philistines has not been great.’” 1 Sam 14:29-30)

7) God refuses to answer Saul even though Saul’s oath was rash and Jonathan disobeyed in ignorance: “And Saul inquired of God, ‘Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?’ But he did not answer him that day.” (1 Samuel 14:37)

8) The people refuse to answer Saul concerning Jonathan’s disobedience: “‘For as the LORD lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.’ But there was not a man among all the people who answered him.” (1 Sam 14:39)

9) After Jonathan is chosen by lot as the offender, the people refuse to let their king put Jonathan to death: “Then the people said to Saul, ‘Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.’ So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die.” (1 Sam 14:45)

There are many more in this chapter and I don’t have time to give my thoughts on the parts I noted, but I’ll try to return to some on them in the days to come.

Above: Guess who?

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