In 1 Samuel 14, there is a little known story about a military victory by Saul’s son, Jonathan. However, there is another person in the account who plays an important role, and although we’re not even given his name, we can learn a great lesson from him.
Israel was at the mercy of Philistine raiders, and Saul’s inept and ineffective leadership caused a wholesale desertion from his army. He was left with only 600 men to face the thousands of hardened Philistine warriors, and in Saul’s entire force, only he and Jonathan had actual swords.
Jonathan was everything Saul wasn’t. With the courage of a soldier and a deep abiding faith, he proposed to confront the closest contingent of Philistines. Jonathan had the vision and the boldness to undertake a mission that would have seemed foolhardy except for the hand of God. Jonathan knew there were no limitations on what God could do, and that He was more than capable of delivering Israel with just a few men as He was using a great army, because ultimately the victory was the Lord’s.
The armorbearer’s reply? “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.” (1 Samuel 14:7) While we usually give Jonathan all the credit, verses 11-14 make it clear that both young men were equally involved in the victory. Reading the rest of the chapter, this act sparked a turnaround within the entire army of Israel resulting in a historic defeat of their Philistine enemies wrought by the hand of God.
So what lessons can we learn from Jonathan’s armorbearer?
Leaders need followers.
I am with you, he said. As soon as he understood Jonathan was looking to God for the victory, the armorbearer was all in. He didn’t lay down conditions or argue with Jonathan about the details of the plan. If our leaders are committed to God and His kingdom work, we shouldn’t hesitate to follow.
Leaders need encouragement.
Go then, he said. The armorbearer didn’t second guess Jonathan. He didn’t point out the obvious fact that they were horribly outnumbered or that Israel’s army was utterly demoralized. His response was, “Let’s do it.”
Leaders need help.
In verses 13-14, the armorbearer was there with Jonathan, step for step, not standing back watching.
Following is not glamorous. It takes humility and sacrifice. But it means seeing the bigger picture and greater goal of God’s glory and the expansion of His kingdom.
What leaders do you follow? What help and encouragement can you offer them?