Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” 1 Samuel 14:6
“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few!” Those words came from a young man who was about to go into hand‑to‑hand combat with a mortal enemy! His name was Jonathan, and he was the son of King Saul, the first king that Israel ever had. But was this youthful presumption, or arrogant boasting? Or was Jonathan stating an axiomatic truth, just as certain in the world of jets and computers as it was in the days of spears and swords?
Jonathan was a youth but not without some experience. He had seen first‑hand what had happened when the Spirit of God came on his father in battle, and he had been involved in combat with the army when the odds were hopelessly against them and God gave them victory.
Jonathan and his armor bearer were ready to take on a Philistine detachment and he says, “Yes, let’s go across to those heathen… Perhaps the Lord will do a miracle for us. For it makes no difference to him how many enemy troops there are!” Jonathan was right. The two of them killed 23 of the enemy in a rout which had been orchestrated by God.
When you stop to analyze the way God works, He often does things in such a manner that He impresses upon us that it was totally He who gave victory, and He doesn’t want to share it with anybody. Take, for example, the time when Gideon and 32,000 soldiers faced the Midianites. God says, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands” (Judges 7:2). So Gideon sent home all the ones who were the least bit afraid. That left 10,000. “Still, too many,” says God, who pared down the army to only 300 men. What can 300 men do in a battle against thousands? Not much, but God can give victory whether by many or by few.
Another example is David, just one youth who also knew the truth which Jonathan voiced: “Who can hinder the Lord from saving whether it be by many or by few.”? David was just one kid against a giant by the name of Goliath, but God gave the victory.
Students of history will tell you on far more than one occasion the tide of battle was turned by nature one way or another. Consider the winter which defeated Napoleon at Moscow’s gate; the winds which blew the Spanish Armada on the rocks; the fog which allowed the evacuation of Dunkirk. “Just happened!” says the skeptic. Just happened about like an explosion in a print shop producing a world history book.
Here’s the bottom line for today’s commentary: God hasn’t changed the way He operates. He doesn’t need or even want equal odds. He still wants to prove that He is God, that He can bring deliverance, whether it is by many or by few. Do you know why I’ve brought this program to you? That verse really speaks to my heart. There are times when our back is to the wall. There are some needs confronting us and we aren’t quite sure how God is going to bring it together and I always want to figure out a way to help God do it, and then I realize He doesn’t need my help or my advice. God is God, and He’s been in this business of proving His strength for hundreds of years. That’s when I step back and begin to watch. Many times have I been able to look back and say, “Wow! I never thought of doing that!”
“Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few!” That applies to family needs, to your business, to your education, to your country. When God wants to bring deliverance, get out of His way because He’s coming through one way or another, and when He does, be sure it is God, not man, who brings deliverance.
Resource reading: 1 Samuel 14
**David and Jonathan, by Cima da Conegliano, ca. 1505-1510