A Trembling in the Camp – 1 Samuel 14

King Saul might not have had a heart for God, but his son, Jonathan, certainly did.

Jonathan saw that Israel was once again under oppression from the Philistines and decided that now was the time to do something about it.  His father, the king, was apparently content with the status quo, but Jonathan was not.  He had been given a heart of faith in God and saw the untapped power and potential there to free the people of Israel.

Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised (Philistines); it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6 (NKJV)

Jonathan saw that the power of God is limitless to save, and he wanted to put some of this power into action.  But God always leads the way if we are to succeed in Him.  Was Jonathan acting impulsively and presumptuously without the leading of God, or had the Lord Himself placed this heavenly mission upon Jonathan’s heart?

One could certainly make the case that God was leading the way in Jonathan’s victory.  First, there was a strong scriptural basis for Jonathan’s faith.  God had promised Israel that if they would obey Him and keep faith with Him, He would provide complete protection for them.  In the book of Leviticus, He promised Moses:

I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid.  I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.  You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.  Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. Leviticus 26:6-8 (NKJV)

Although this was not the situation around him in Israel, Jonathan believed that a faithful pursuit of the Lord would restore this divine promise.  In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord also promised the faithful that:

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.  Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV)

It is certainly possible that the Lord had laid these passages upon Jonathan’s heart to spur him into action.  God often speaks to us through a word of scripture.  As one has said, the Lord may have caused these passages to burn within Jonathan’s heart.

Whatever the case, Jonathan and his armor bearer woke up one day with a determination to personally expel the encroaching Philistines from the land.  The closest Philistine garrison to them held twenty men on a rocky ledge overlooking the land.  Jonathan decided to put his faith into action here.

Looking for confirmation, he told his armor-bearer that he would act if the Philistines called down for them to come up to the garrison for battle. If they threatened to come down to fight instead , the assault was off, and Jonathan would retreat.

The test was simple, maybe too simple, but the two responded in faith when the test was passed, and the Philistines called for them to come up.

If God’s Spirit is nudging us into action, He is then waiting for us to respond to His work, be it bringing aid and comfort to another, encouraging or teaching the new believer, or even working a great miracles in our lives.  Many people I know, including me, who have been freed from bondage to alcohol (or in some cases drugs) began their healing journey by stepping out in faith in response to a subtle nudge from God.

For us, these may be small steps of faith, but Jonathan’s step was anything but small.  He took on a battle with the Philistines at the odds of 20 against two.  Would God honor his faith?  How would he know that God really was behind him?  God let there be no doubt that He was behind him in this matter.

15 And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling.  1 Samuel 14:15 (NKJV)

The Philistine garrison was defeated, and there was increasing confusion and chaos among them as the ground continued to shake by the Lord’s hand.  Jonathan’s faith had stood tall even if his father, the king’s, had failed.

The Lord has promised that one day, He will shake all the earth again, this time to draw all women and men unto the Himself, the true and worthy Desire of All Nations.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.  Haggai 2:6-7 (NKJV)

As we draw closer to that day, we seek our comfort and protection from the One who has the power to bring such a shaking to the camp, yet prefers to work with a gentle and loving Spirit to bring goodness and freedom to our lives.

It is important that God is leading us whenever we step out in faith for Him.  It is not always easy to determine what God’s will is.  After praying and seeking His confirmation, we step out in faith to “do our best and then let God do the rest”.


The power of God prevails long after the human power has been exhausted. With the Lord leading the way, He will accomplish wonderful things if we listen to Him and carefully follow along as He nudges us into action.

As Jesus called some of His disciples who were fishing in the Sea of Galilee to follow Him, he instructed them:

“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.   Luke 5:4-5 (NKJV)

Let us pray:

Lord, show us what would You would have us do for Your kingdom today. Grant us the faith and the will to follow as You lead us, helping us to live a holy, fruitful and righteous life. We seek Your peace, patience, and joy as You provide. We pray this with gratitude in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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