Do you ever feel like you’re going through life without sufficient resources to get done what God is asking you to do? Maybe you feel a little like the title of this book by New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosley: “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned.”
It seems like the Israelites, and even the Israelites’ leader felt this way. Saul was the first king of the Israelites, following the days of the Judges when every person in Israel had a tendency to do what was right in their own eyes.
One of the big jobs that still needed to be carried out by Saul and the Israelite armies was the removal of the influence and power of the Philistines who lived in the Promised Land. But Saul — though he was God’s anointed leader — was hesitant to act. He didn’t feel confident he had the resources he needed to get the job done.
Sure enough, when the Philistines did muster an army after an attack provoked by Saul’s son, Jonathan, the Israelites appeared to be vastly outnumbered.
“The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead” (1 Samuel 13:5-6, NIV).
Later in this same chapter, we also learn that only Saul and Jonathan had swords to fight with. Everyone else was fighting with gardening tools because they had no blacksmiths who could fashion weapons. Their Philistine masters had prevented blacksmiths to operate in Israel.
We are sometimes tempted to do as the Israelites did when we feel our resources are low. We stare down our situation and ruminate about it. We feel our circumstances have become critical, and we sense the hard pressure. And we just want to run and hide, to find refuge wherever we can find it: chemicals, sex, money, power, possessions — those are today’s “caves and thickets, rocks, pits and cisterns.”
Saul’s son Jonathan shows us another way. He was not pressured or dismayed by the circumstances, but kept pressing forward with the attack. He knew confidently that God is never intimidated by the size of the forces arrayed against us, or by how complicated a situation might appear.
“Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. 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, NIV).
God plus me is a majority, Jonathan reasoned. And because he’s God, he has all the resources we need to accomplish his purpose. So press forward with the battle, and be optimistic about the outcome. The size of the forces arrayed against you is never going to restrict God’s ability to help you.
Overwhelming odds are God’s favorite way to show you that he is in control, and that he has both the power and the love to lead you to victory. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few!
Our Bible reading for Saturday, May 23, is 1 Samuel 13:1 – 14:23, John 13:18-38 and Psalm 66:13-20.
Lord, thank you for being with me. I need your power and love in my life. My own resources are always inadequate to the task of living for your glory, and fulfilling your purposes for my life. My energy is too little, my finances too meager, my intelligence and wisdom way too small, my friends and fellow “soldiers” too few. Help me to be confident, as Jonathan was, that the best way forward is always to rely on you for victory–in your timing, and in your fashion.
Header image based on "always outnumbered, always outgunned" by Chris Drumm, CC By 2.0