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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:Jonathan: Meet Him As a Son
Text:1 Samuel 14:16-46 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

1 SAMUEL 14:16-46 (Reading: 1 Samuel 13:23-14:46) Jonathan: Meet Him As A Son Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ… Have you ever had someone come up to you, and say, “You know, you look just like your Dad!” Or, perhaps they said, “I can see so much of your Mum in you!” Maybe your grandparents noticed that something you did was just like your Mum or Dad did when they were younger. You know, although we might not like to admit it sometimes, we are a lot like our folks! Our young adults could remember that when they’re going out with a girl or a boy. You better have a look at her Mum or his Dad. That’s what that beautiful young thing is going to look like in thirty years time! We might be wondering, though, after reading 1st Samuel 14, as to whether or not Saul is Jonathan’s Dad? They seem so different! Saul is rash, impatient, and a bit unpredictable. Jonathan is cool, calm, and collective. They don’t look like they’re related at all! But the Jonathan we meet didn’t just appear. He didn’t push a button suddenly making him good! In fact, it was his Dad and Mum bringing him up the right way that helped to make him the hero at the beginning of chapter 14. We only need to read a few chapters earlier to see what a good example Saul had been. People looked up to him - and not only because he was so tall either! He was a leader, inspiring those around him. And he was a warrior. There was an occasion when the city of Jabesh-Gilead was surrounded by Ammonites. Ammonites who would only make peace with them after gouging out the right eye of every one of them. Upon hearing about that, Saul became moved by God’s Spirit. So greatly moved, in fact, that the fear of God brought him a great army of 330,000. With that army he slaughtered them! (1 Sam.11:1ff.) And, yet, afterwards, he was gracious to those Ammonites who survived. (v12f.) Then he was a soldier, and a gentleman. Things were a bit different now, however. What we read in chapter 14 spoke only of 600 soldiers, with many hiding in the hills (13:6). And there were those Hebrews who were on the Philistine side! There was certainly no great move of the Spirit here. In fact, when Saul’s lookouts told him of the Philistine army melting away in all directions, he cannot even realise what’s happening. True, he seeks the Lord’s guidance, but that’s as much because he’s so far apart from the LORD at this time. If he was truly on line with the LORD, there would have been no hesitation about what he had to do. Actually, he would already have acted like Jonathan had just done! So, as we look at Jonathan in this passage here, let’s note, first of all… HE’S A SON WITH A SCARY DAD. That’s an interesting way to describe Saul - isn’t it? But that’s honestly what he had become, at this point in time. How can I say this? Well, there are several things which show this. The first is the nature of Saul’s relationship with the Lord. We’ve touched into this a bit already. Saul is missing that distinct leading of the LORD. This shows up further in the way he tries to connect to the LORD. He doesn’t come to God as someone who knows Him. Rather, he comes to God with a alarm button type of faith. You see, an alarm button is on the wall all the time. The less we use it, the better we know things are. But when there’s a fire, or another emergency, then we use it. That’s how it is with Saul now. He only uses God when something is going wrong - very wrong! We see that in the three times he seeks God’s will in our text. The first is in verse 18 when he’s not sure what’s happening. In that insecurity he seeks God’s help. But as soon as he realises the Philistines are on the run, he doesn’t hang round for the Lord’s Word then - he’s off. He stops the priest who’s in communion with God. It might help to explain what’s happening here. You see, congregation, there were special ways that Saul had in order to know God’s Will. The priest had one of these. And what he most likely had here was the Urim and Thummim. We know that in verse 18 it speaks of the “ark” as the way he contacted the LORD. But that was unlikely as we know from earlier in this first book of Samuel that the Ark was definitely somewhere else. That’s why another original translation is helpful here. This is the Septuagint version of this text, which says, says, “Bring the ephod.” You might find that footnoted in your Bible. We also read that he had the ephod earlier in verse 3. That ephod had a special breastplate on it. You can read about it in Exodus chapter 28. On that tunic there were twelve precious stones - all different types. They changed colour to give the Lord’s answer to the questions the priest asked of Him. Almost like an alarm button - isn’t it? In verse 36 a second, similar, situation occurs after Saul has stopped to properly kill the animals the people are desperately eating to fill their hunger. Saul is about to move on, after that, to keep chasing the Philistines when the priest tells him to first inquire of the LORD. Then the breastplate tells him something is wrong. The alarm has gone off! The third time Saul presses the alarm button is when he throws the lot to see what’s holding up the works. That was another way of seeking God’s guidance then. And another thing that we aren’t exactly sure about today. Perhaps just as well! Otherwise we could become as superstitious as Saul is with using these things. But how scary doesn’t this Dad get when he has no qualms about killing his son because of his silly vow! We don’t get any sense of real sadness, even regret here. He would have gone ahead and done it! What’s happened to him? Actually, what’s happened to him is what’s being happening to Saul all along. Those little irritating aspects in his character earlier on, have become very bad habits! That quick anger has become a terrible temper! You see, amongst Christians we usually think of getting older as a time when we become more wise and mature. Because we keep growing in the faith, that shows up in our lives. But the same works in reverse, too. There are older Christians who can be more than a bit twisted. And angry! The self-righteousness in them can be devastating. That’s quite a burden on others. Not that they themselves see it. Far from it! It’s always someone else’s fault! Just like Saul wouldn’t have realised what his foolish oath did to the people. He just did it! And no-one was really going to argue the point about it. At least not when the person saying it has this kind of power. He can do whatever he liked. The warning Samuel had given the people, about what a king would do to them, was happening. And all they could say was what they said to Saul in verse 36, “Do whatever seems best to you.” Jonathan is A SON WITH A SCARY DAD alright! A Dad who wasn’t communing with the Father in heaven. A Dad who only made living in his family very difficult. And that included the family of faith which Israel as a covenant nation was. Jonathan’s A SON WITH A SCARY DAD... but, we see through the Lord’s working in his life... HE’S A SON WHO DIDN’T GO BAD. Our second part. As an adult he responds to what God has done for him. With that daring raid on the enemy he showed the true man of faith he is. You see, Jonathan knows who to attack. He’s completely focused as a soldier in the Lord’s army. Even the incident where he dips that honeycomb into his mouth is a meal on the move. He needs the sustenance, but he needs to keep fighting, too! But there is also the enemy within. This is the hard one to fight. For while the enemy is out there - another army, a religious group, whoever - it’s clear who we fight. And they’re easier to fight. But when it’s your own Dad? That’s a hard call. A call many Christians wouldn’t want to make. In fact, some Christians say you can’t make that call. Whether it’s your physical Dad. Or if it were your spiritual father. “Touch not the Lord’s anointed,” they say. And meanwhile the so-called ‘Lord’s anointed’ is quite blatantly showing he’s not being blessed by the LORD at all! He’s actually being a curse! Congregation, what did Jonathan say when someone pointed out to him about the oath of his Dad? How did he respond when he was told, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be any man who eats food today!’” Did he rush over to his Dad, throw himself before him, and beg his mercy? Was there a special sacrifice he offered to try and beg the Lord’s mercy? No way! HE’S A SON WHO DIDN’T GO MAD! Did you notice I changed the last word there? That’s for the reason that no matter how spiritual something like Saul did may seem it’s utter rot! Jonathan describes it exactly that way. In verse 29 he says, “My father has made trouble for my country.” Jonathan is saying that his Dad is really mucking things up. Using a word, which, in the few times it’s been used elsewhere, clearly indicates really bad things, he’s fighting the enemy alright. The enemy within! I mean, look at some of those other occasions this word is used. There is the story in Genesis, when two of Jacob’s sons treacherously murdered the whole town of Shechem, after have deceived them by having their men circumcised three days before. Then Jacob says to those two, in verse 30 of Genesis 34, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and the Perizzites.” In the book of Joshua it’s applied to Achan, who stole from Jericho, when it was under the ban of the LORD. Joshua says to him, in verse 25 of chapter 7, “Why have you brought this disaster on us? “The LORD will bring disaster on you today.” And in 1 Kings 18, when King Ahab accuses the prophet Elijah of being the troubler of Israel, he replies, “I have not made trouble for Israel. “But you and your family have. “You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals.” (v18) Jonathan expressed his lack of confidence in his own Dad. And his Dad was the King of Israel as well! In fact, he probably had already showed his feelings on this by attacking the Philistines on his own. He knew how jealous his Dad would have been had he suggested something like it to him. Though he knew his Dad would be mad with him, Jonathan kept going what he believed to be the Lord’s way. Even when what he did came to light, he didn’t throw a spastic! He simply asks the obvious question, “I merely tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. “And now I must die?” How idiotic can you get? Yet it’s all done under the name of religion. Something must be wrong when common sense gets thrown out the door! Oh, that many Christian leaders would hear this plea today! Oh, that all those churches who have promoted the weirdest and wackiest things they call blessings, would see the curse they are! And if only those in their churches would see that, like Saul, it’s only done for the selfishness of their leaders! You see, congregation, when you come down to it, this is what crucified our Lord Jesus. It was the selfishness of the spiritual leaders. All using the name of God. Like Jesus, Jonathan stands as one who suffered innocently here. And, later on, the tragedy of his father’s sin would drag Jonathan down to an early grave. He would die with him on the battlefield. Still, in spite of that darkness ahead, it’s this son who shines light on our text. You see, here... HE’S A SON MAKING OTHERS GLAD! The third part to this text. We see this point so clearly in verse 45. When Saul is quite clearly going to go ahead and carry out his stupid vow, by killing his own son, the Israelites cry out: “Should Jonathan die - he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? “Never!” They have no doubt why there was a great victory that day. It was because a man of God brought it. That man was Jonathan. A man who’s done the right thing! Surely Saul could see God’s blessing upon his son? Ah, that’s exactly the problem! Because Saul was only looking after his own position. He had taken that oath, because, as he said in verse 24, “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies.” His enemies? This was like Moses striking the rock without using the Lord’s name. He was out on his own. That was Saul here. And like Moses suffered for his folly, by not being able to enter the promised land, so Saul wasn’t able to have the complete victory over those hated Philistines. But now the people themselves swear an oath. They do it the right way. They invoke the Lord’s name. Though now it is not to burden God’s people but to keep alive one of them. And they swear it on the basis of what God has done through that one - Saul’s own son! And a gracious thing happens here. Saul gets the point. Jonathan is A SON MAKING OTHERS GLAD. It starts with his own Dad! And because his Dad sees it here, it means the people rejoice, too. What follows after our text shows that, for a while anyway, Saul did come good. He fought against the Lord’s enemies on all sides. He was brave, and the LORD gave him victories. He and his family were highly respected. In the continual battle with the Philistines, he collected an army of brave men around him. His cousin, Abner, became famous as the commander-in-chief of his army. HE’S A SON MAKING OTHERS GLAD. You see, congregation, Jonathan’s Dad at this point nearly stepped over the edge. Later on that did happen. Yet, for now, Saul was a Dad to be proud of again - a Dad to look up to again! In the words of S.G. De Graaf, “So the Lord in His goodness still honoured Saul, and his kingship flourished. “Through that kingship, the people were to develop an even more powerful longing for the great King who would deliver the people of the Lord from all their enemies - especially sin, the evil one and death.” And that was done then by the LORD using Saul’s son. Boys and girls, do you think God is still doing the same today? Are you behaving so well in your class at school that you show up your teacher? At home do you embarrass your parents by your good life? You know you can. There have been Mums and Dads with lots of problems whose kids brought them back together again. Boys and girls have even been used by God to make their parents Christians! You know, when people see how much we are like our Mums and Dads, they sometimes say, “Oh, he’s a real chip off the old block!” Well, let them also see who else you’re related to. Show them you’ve got a Father in heaven. Then they’ll realise we’re not just chips off the old block - we’re joined to the great Rock! Amen. PRAYER: Let’s pray… O LORD God, what a mighty thing you did through Jonathan. You used him to change Saul right around again. And You can use us to do the same. People around will then see it’s Jesus living in us. He is Your Son - and our precious Saviour. In His Name we pray, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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