A Trembling in the Camp – 1 Samuel 14

Saul may 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 it was now 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 faith in God and saw the untapped power there to save 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 now acting impulsively and presumptuously, 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 had 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 in Israel, Jonathan believed that a faithful pursuit of the Lord would restore this 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 to this action.  God often speaks to us through a word of scripture.  As one pastor has said, the Lord may have caused these passages to burn within Jonathan’s heart.

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

Looking for confirmation, he told his armor-bearer that he would act if the Philistines called them to come up to the garrison for battle after seeing them.  If they threatened to come down, 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 them up.

If God’s Spirit is nudging us to action, He is only waiting for us to respond to work great miracles in our lives.  Many people I know, including me, who have been freed from bondage to alcohol or 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 the 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 shake by the Lord’s hand.  Jonathan’s faith had stood up where his father’s had failed.

The Lord has promised that one day, He will shake the earth again, this time to draw all men and women unto the Himself, the 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


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

The power of God prevails even after the power of man has been exhausted.

As Jesus called some of His disciples who were fishing at 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

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.

Lord, what would You have us do for Your kingdom today?

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