OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            Samuel was the last judge of Israel.  During his lifetime, Israel cried out for a king.  God told Samuel to grant their request.  The man selected was the son of Kish.  “…whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly:  there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he…” (I Sam. 9:2).  He was also a tall man.  “…from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (I Sam. 9:2).

            Saul had a son named Jonathan.  We are introduced to him first in I Samuel 13:2.  We learn that he was a courageous soldier.  He had a thousand men under his command.  “And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba…” (I Sam. 13:3).  Nowhere in the Biblical text is Jonathan’s physical appearance described to us.  However, as we examine his life from the Biblical narrative, it is apparent that spiritually he stood head and shoulders over his father Saul.  There are several things that lead us to this conclusion.

            First, he possessed a greater faith in God than Saul possessed.  When Jonathan fought against the Philistines, he was cognizant that God was with him.  When the Philistines were encamped at Michmash, Jonathan chose to fight against the enemy.  He slipped away from the rest of the army unawares.  “And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised:  it may be that the Lord will work for us:  for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few” (I Sam. 14:6).  Jonathan and his armorbearer approached the garrison of the Philistines.  When the Philistines called them up to fight, “…Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me:  for the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel” (I Sam. 14:12).  Jonathan understood the Lord’s power.  He did not need a massive army to claim victory.  Two men who possessed faith in God could easily defeat thousands of the enemy.  If only Jonathan’s father would have had such faith.  Yes, Jonathan stood head and shoulders above Saul in faith.

            Second, Jonathan possessed greater wisdom than his father possessed.  When in battle with the Philistines, Saul commanded his troops not to eat any food until the evening that he might be avenged of his enemies (I Sam. 14:24).  Jonathan did not hear his father’s command.  When he entered into the woods, Jonathan took his rod and dipped it into a honeycomb, and ate of the honey.  It was then the people told Jonathan of his father’s charge.  “Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land:  see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.  How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely to day of the spoil of their enemies which they found?  for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?” (I Sam. 14:29-30).  Jonathan knew the soldiers needed strength if they were going to be their best in the heat of battle.  He would not have issued such a curse upon those who ate food.  Saul’s lust for victory clouded his reasoning about the need of warriors to eat.  Again, Jonathan towers above his father.

            Third, Jonathan appreciated good men.  After David’s profound victory over Goliath, Jonathan and David became close friends.  “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (I Sam. 18:1).  Even after great praise was given to David by the women of Israel, Jonathan continued to love David.  Sadly, his father hated David.  He did everything he could do to have David killed.  Jonathan, however, saw David was a good man.  He protected him, interceded for him, provided for him, and continued to love him.  When Jonathan pled for David on one occasion, here is how he described the man despised by Saul.  “And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good” (I Sam. 19:4).  Jonathan was a lover of good men.  He would not allow jealousy and envy and anger cloud his judgment about a man of character and courage.  Again, he excelled above Saul.  Saul just could not see the good in the son of Jesse.

            Fourth, Jonathan was not a man of pride, but a man of humility.  He was not concerned about having the kingdom for himself.  If God desired another to be the king, Jonathan would gladly submit to the Lord’s anointed.  If this individual was his friend David, then it was well with his soul (See I Sam. 20:13b-15).  Such was no so with Saul.  When he heard the women praise the accomplishments of David when they returned from battle, his mind immediately went to the kingdom.  “And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him:  and he said, They had ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands:  and what can he have more but the kingdom?” (I Sam. 18:8).  When Jonathan interceded for David the second time, Saul was deeply angered.  He told Jonathan:  “For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom…” (I Sam. 20:31).  Jonathan was much like John the Baptist in the days of Jesus.  He will willing to fulfill whatever role the Lord gave him.  If he had to play second-fiddle, he accepted this.  Saul’s pride would not allow him to bend to the will of God.  Again, Jonathan stands above his father.

            Fifth, Jonathan was a man who could be loyal to all.  He was loyal to God.  He was loyal to his father.  He was loyal to his friend.  Saul was not loyal to God, nor was he loyal to his friend the prophet Samuel.   While David fled for his life from Saul, Jonathan went to him to strengthen him in the Lord (I Sam. 23:16).  And, on the field of battle, Jonathan died fighting diligently with his father (I Sam. 31:2).  In his lament over Jonathan’s and Saul’s deaths, David said:  “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided:  they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions” (II Sam. 1:23).  Saul had difficulty being loyal to anyone other than himself.  Because of his unfaithfulness, the kingdom was stripped from him by God.  Again, we see Jonathan standing taller than his father.

            Standing tall in the sight of the Lord does not mean that one has to be physically tall.  All he has to do is manifest the qualities of a man like Jonathan.  When a person possesses faith, he stands tall.  When a person has wisdom that enables him to make wise decisions, he stands tall.  When a person appreciates good men instead of being jealous of them, he stands tall.  When a person has no ego that has to be fueled, he stand tall.  When a person can be loyal to God, to family and to others, he stands tall.  My friend, regardless of your physical height, you can be tall.  Just follow in the footsteps of Jonathan.  He stood head and shoulders over his father Saul.