Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | April 13, 2015

“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”, but rather, you shall live “on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.

Today’s devotion comes from 1 Samuel Chapter 14.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+14&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“1 Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.”  But he did not tell his father.  2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron.  And the people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3 and Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the Lord at Shiloh, was wearing an ephod.  And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone.  4 Between the passes by which Jonathan sought to cross over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp crag on the one side and a sharp crag on the other side, and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5 The one crag rose on the north opposite Michmash, and the other on the south opposite Geba.

Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised;  perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.”

14 That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men within about half a furrow in an acre of land. 15 And there was a trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people.  Even the garrison and the raiders trembled, and the earth quaked so that it became a great trembling.

16 Now Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted away;  and they went here and there.  17 Saul said to the people who were with him, “Number now and see who has gone from us.”  And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there.  18 Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.”  For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel.  19 While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased;  so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”  20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and came to the battle;  and behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion.  21 Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them all around in the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan.  22 When all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, even they also pursued them closely in the battle.  23 So the Lord delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven.

47 Now when Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, the sons of Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines;  and wherever he turned, he inflicted punishment.  48 He acted valiantly and defeated the Amalekites, and delivered Israel from the hands of those who plundered them.

52 Now the war against the Philistines was severe all the days of Saul;  and when Saul saw any mighty man or any valiant man, he attached him to his staff.”  1 Samuel Chapter 14:  Verses 1-6 and 14-23 and 47-48 and 52.

——————

“Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.”  Verse 6.

Although both were valiant warriors, we see the contrast in today’s Scripture between Jonathan and Saul.  Jonathan acted with the few, and he took only his armor bearer to fight the Philistines.  Saul acted with the many, and he numbered his people (verse 17), he took all the people with him to the battle (verse 20), he put all the people under an oath to not eat until he gained the victory (24), and he was constantly adding valiant men to his army (verse 48).

It is true that the LORD is not restrained to save by many, and the story of Gideon pops into our mind in which the LORD only used 300 men to gain a great victory.  “The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’”  Judges 7:2.

We also think more generally of Zechariah 4:6:  “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.

But, it is also true that the LORD is not restrained to save by the few, and we think of the wisdom stated in the Book of Proverbs.

“5 A wise man is strong,
And a man of knowledge increases power.
6 For by wise guidance you will wage war,
And in abundance of counselors there is victory.”  Proverbs 24:5-6.

So, how do we sum up a lesson from today’s Scripture if the LORD can act either way? 

“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”, but rather, you shall live “on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.

“1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.  3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”  4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,

‘He will command His angels concerning You’;

and

‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Matthew 4:1-7.

In conclusion, there are times when we should act in a way that some could label it as rash or premature, but God will clearly guide us in such times as He did with Gideon.  But, most of the time, we should act generally in the line of the wisdom of the Proverbs.  We should not put the LORD to the test and act foolishly just because He can gain the victory with few (or, so to speak, we should not try to jump across a canyon, just because God has the power to save us).  Rather, we should consider all of Scripture and consider that most of the time good things comes from wise actions and bad things come from foolish actions, but we should also specifically pray for wisdom from God believing that He will give it to us.


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