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Lesson 4: Jonathan: Born for Greatness *

Introduction: How many times do we look at sickness and death and say, "That is not fair?" Our sense of justice is offended when the virtuous die and the worthless live. When the injustice involves you and your life goals, it is that much harder to accept. How should we react when we faithfully serve God, but get passed over for promotion? How should we react when our life goals are swallowed up in illness or problems that are not of our making? Let's dive into our Bible study and see what we can learn from the life of Jonathan!

  1. Fearless For God

    1. Read 1 Samuel 13:5 and 1 Samuel 13:19-22. Who had the technological advantage in the coming battle? (It was not even close. The Philistines not only had chariots, the latest military weapon, they had metal weapons and armor. The Israelites had wood.)

      1. Who had the numerical advantage? (The Philistines were "as numerous as the sand on the seashore." That is not an exact number, but it sounds like an advantage.)

    2. Read 1 Samuel 13:6-7 and 1 Samuel 13:15. What is your military analysis of the situation? Is it simply impossible for the Israelites to win?

      1. Would you leave if you were one of the 600 who would be fighting "the sand?"

    3. Read 1 Samuel 14:6-7. What would you have said if you were Jonathan's armor bearer? ("What! Are you nuts?")

      1. Would you be concerned that Jonathan said "perhaps" the Lord will help us?

      2. What do we learn about Jonathan's faith? (Incredible! He says the numeric and technological advantage of the Philistines means nothing if God is with us.)

      3. Is Jonathan presumptuous? (No. He says "Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf." This is not a statement of doubt, this is simply an acknowledgment that God knows best.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 14:8-10. Is Jonathan now being presumptuous? (If he is, God does not seem to mind. It certainly is far better than being fearful and running away.)

      1. Should we give God choices like this to determine His will?

    5. Read 1 Samuel 14:11-12. Abstract faith is one thing. Faith in action is another. How would you rate Jonathan's faith?

    6. Read 1 Samuel 14:13-16. How is the courage and faith of Jonathan and his armor-bearer, matched by the hand of God? (Jonathan moves forward in faith and God sends a panic among the Philistines.)

      1. Is Jonathan worthy to be the King of Israel?

    7. Read 1 Samuel 14:19-23. What is the result of the faith and courage of one man who decided to step forward in faith? (God's people win what seemed, from a human point to view, to be an impossible victory.)

      1. Did the numerical and technological advantage of the Philistines make any difference?

      2. What lesson does God have in mind for you and me?

        1. Do you want to be a Jonathan? Or one of those men who hid and then jumped out to fight only when things seemed to be going their way?

  2. Friends and Rivals

    1. Read 1 Samuel 19:11-12 Who constitute the cast of characters here? (Saul is the King. David is the "King in waiting." Michal is David's wife and King Saul's daughter.)

      1. What is Saul's attitude towards David?

    2. Read 1 Samuel 20:1. Since Jonathan is King Saul's son, Jonathan and David are potentially rivals to the throne. What does David want to know from Jonathan? (He is looking for "insider information.")

      1. Other than information, what is David demanding? (Justice. He wants to know what the charges are against him that the King would want to kill him.)

    3. Read 1 Samuel 20:2. Does Jonathan have any inside information on this subject? (He says that he normally does, but here we know that he is wrong.)

    4. Read 1 Samuel 20:3. Why theory does David suggest as to why Jonathan is wrong about the plans of King Saul?

      1. What level of trust does David have in Jonathan?

      2. If you were Jonathan, what might cross your mind?

      3. On this question of what Jonathan stood to gain by David's death, skip ahead and read 1 Samuel 20:30-31. What does this tell us about the character of Jonathan?

        1. How do you treat your friends when only one of you can have the advantage?

    5. Read Philippians 2:3-4 and 1 Samuel 20:4. Is Jonathan following God's advice about friendship? (Definitely.)

      1. Notice that Philippians 2:4 tells us it is okay to look to our own interests. Is Jonathan looking out for his own interests?

      2. In the previous story, we saw a Jonathan who, in cooperation with God, lead his country to a great victory. Is David any better qualified to be King than Jonathan?

    6. Read 1 Samuel 20:5-11. Why does Jonathan ask David to go into the field with him? (Jonathan is concerned about others learning about what David and he are planning. Surely those around Jonathan were loyal to him and they might not be as generous towards David as is Jonathan. Instead, they might have the same attitude as King Saul.)

    7. In 1 Samuel 16 we find that God told Samuel to anoint David to be the next King of Israel. Do you think that David has shared that with Jonathan?

      1. If you think he had (and I think he had), how would you feel if you were Jonathan?

      2. Has God failed to reward your great faith in the battle against the Philistines?

      3. Do you think that as a little boy, Jonathan talked with his father, King Saul, about the day when Jonathan would be king?

        1. Do you think that Jonathan dreamed about the day he would be king? Or, do you think that Jonathan was just a shy fellow who did not want to be a leader? (The attack on the Philistines shows that Jonathan was a motivated, courageous leader.)

    8. Read 1 Samuel 20:12-16. Recall that I just asked you if Jonathan was looking out for his own interests? Now that you have read more of the story, what is your answer to that question? (Jonathan apparently understood that God was going to make David the King. He knew that would put both himself and his family in danger - because as "rivals" to the throne, David's friends would want to destroy him and his family. He extracted from David a promise of protection. He was looking out for his family.)

    9. Read 1 Samuel 20:17. What made David and Jonathan such perfect friends? (Read Mark 12:29-31. Jonathan perfectly fulfilled the command to love. Indeed, Jonathan loved God and David more than he loved himself.)

    10. Read 1 Samuel 23:15-18. How does Jonathan see his future? (He will be second to future King David.)

  3. Disappointment

    1. Read 1 Samuel 31:1-6. Why did God give Jonathan such a great victory in the earlier fight against the Philistines and then allow him to be defeated here?

      1. Why could not Jonathan live and be second to David as they had agreed?

    2. Read 1 Samuel 31:8-10. Why did the Philistines put Saul's armor in their temple and mount Saul's body and the bodies of his sons to the city wall? (They were showing the victory of their gods over the God of Israel.)

      1. Can you explain Jonathan's fate?

    3. Read Hebrews 11:32-38. Is life always fair for those who follow God? (No. Some, like David, conquered. Some, like Jonathan, were treated badly.)

      1. Why does God not always intervene to make life fair? (Read Hebrews 11:39-40. God has something much better, much more fair in mind for us!)

    4. Friend, how about you? Will you remain faithful and fearless regardless how things turn out in life?

    * Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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