Jonathan: An Example of the Gift of Faith

Cliffs along the Lava Falls Route, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Cliffs along the Lava Falls Route, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Yesterday I was thinking about Jonathan, son of King Saul.  He’s a remarkable man in that he was the best friend of a man who was slated to usurp his own position of authority.  He knew it, and was perfectly happy to let it happen – as long as his usurper was kind to himself and his family (see 1 Samuel 20:14-15) because God had promised the kingship to David.  He even tells David, “You’ll be king over Israel, and I will be second to you” (1 Samuel 23:17).

Scrambling the badlands near Saddle Pass, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Scrambling the badlands near Saddle Pass, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Jonathan is also remarkable in that he is a biblical example of someone who has the gift of faith.  He’s smart, maybe a bit impulsive as a young man, and loyal to the people he loves (note that he refused to feast one day because of the way his father treated his best friend (1 Samuel 20:34)).  But he also fully believed what God had said over his personal position or even his own safety.

The trail up Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park, Washington
The trail up Sahale Arm, North Cascades National Park, Washington

The first time we see Jonathan in action is when he attacked the Philistines – Israel’s enemies – and made Israel the brunt of the Philistine’s anger.  The two armies faced each other at a standstill.  The Israelites were so afraid that they were “quaking with fear” (1 Samuel 13:7) and hiding themselves so they wouldn’t have to fight (13:6).

Cliffs of Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah
Cliffs of Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah

At last Jonathan says to his armor-bearer, “Come on, let’s get some action.  We’re not doing anything useful just sitting here.  If God is with us, we can totally beat them, hands-down.”  That’s some pretty crazy faith.  He knows that God is able to save not only him but the entirety of Israel no matter how many warriors or how few fighters Israel has.

Fairy Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Fairy Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Then Jonathan puts out this fleece: “We’ll let our enemies see us; if they come out to meet us, we’ll know that we shouldn’t move forward yet.  But if they tell us to come up to them, then we’ll know that God’s going to deliver them into our hands.”  Sure enough, the Philistines told Jonathan to come up to them.

Mt. Tammany from Mt. Minsi, Pennsylvania
Mt. Tammany from Mt. Minsi, Pennsylvania

What happens next is remarkable: Jonathan’s faith in God combines with his faith that now was the time.  His belief in what God had said allowed him to begin a fight that would be a true win for Israel.

Beehive Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Beehive Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

This is what faith does; It takes what God has said and transforms it into belief that literally changes the course of lives – maybe even the course of a nation.  All of us as Christians have faith on some level, but those with the gift of faith have an extra level of ability to change their spheres of influence just by believing what God has said.

Flowers at the Willowwood Arboretum, New Jersey
Flowers at the Willowwood Arboretum, New Jersey

Much later on in the story, we see Jonathan’s faith in action again.  David was hiding in the Desert of Ziph.  Saul was searching earnestly for him, but he couldn’t find David.  Meanwhile, from the sound of things, Jonathan goes out and walks right into David’s camp without any issue.

Views from the Ore Terminal Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas
Views from the Ore Terminal Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas

David is at a low ebb at this moment.  He’s been on the run for about 4 years (approximately) at this point.  He knows that his time is limited; Saul is a half-crazed maniac when it comes to David’s life.  He’s probably missing his wife and family, and he’s definitely tired of being afraid for his life and having his own countrymen turn on him to hand him over to the king – especially when all of the prophetic words over his life say that he (David) should be the king and not Saul.

Bighorn sheep along the Hidden Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
Bighorn sheep along the Hidden Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

But then Jonathan comes into the camp.  He says to David, “Listen, everything that God has said is going to come true!  Don’t be afraid of my father; he can’t possibly take your life because God says that you’re going to be king.  God is going to make you king and it’s going to be amazing.  Don’t give up hope yet!”  (See 1 Samuel 23:15-18)

Wildflowers at White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Wildflowers at White Sands National Park, New Mexico

By this time in his life, Jonathan had so much faith in God and what He would do that he could spread that faith and hope to his friend.  That’s part of what people with the gift of faith are supposed to do: they spread hope of what God is doing because they believe and know that what God has said will come true.

The Dragon's Back at Chimney Bluffs State Park, New York
The Dragon’s Back at Chimney Bluffs State Park, New York

David did keep his end of the relationship when he showed kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephiboseth (see 2 Samuel 9).  The faith of the Mephiboseth’s father helped to get the man on the throne who later rose Mephiboseth to a position where he did not have to worry about his financial security – even though he was lame and therefore unable to do much in the way of work.

Sunset in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico
Sunset in the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico

Your faith in what God will do is more than just about believing God for what He will do in your life.  It may impact you or it may impact the generations to come.  That’s why it’s so important for us to seek God for what He wants in any given situation – from familial to our nation’s future – so that we can believe and have faith for what God says will happen and use our faith to build the Kingdom of Heaven instead of the fear of what hell will do.