Zeal in Action

One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.’ Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side.  Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.’  And his armor-bearer said to him, ‘Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.’ Then Jonathan said, ‘Behold, we will cross over to the men, and we will show ourselves to them.’  If they say, “Come up to us,” then we will go up, for the Lord has given them into our hand. And this shall be the sign to us.’ And the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer and said, ‘Come up to us, and we will show you a thing.’ And Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, ‘Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.’ Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him. And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. So the Lord saved Israel that day.” 1 Samuel 14:1,4,6-8,12-13,23

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: …the one who leads, with zeal… Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Do not be haughty.” Romans 12:1-3,6,8,11,16

I am struck this day by Jonathan’s zeal for Israel and for his Lord. In 1 Samuel 14 he and his armor-bearer take on a group of cocky Philistines and defeat them, leading Israel to bold conquest in the name of the LORD. He is brave, focused, sure of God’s promise, guidance, and help. His father had been a weak example to him, yet with his allegiance directly to his God, he succeeds, causing Israel to see God’s victory. (I wonder what influence David had on his faith?)


Though it was penned centuries later, Jonathan has implemented the teaching of Romans 12. He has willingly offered his body a living sacrifice to God, understands God’s will and his unique gift of leading, and uses it to lead with zeal, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. He is not haughty, but appropriately confident. It is a great and biblical quality to understand our God-given gifts and utilize them for His purposes, as He calls, and for His glory.

Lord, may I be zealous for You and Your causes as Jonathan was, following You as my good Leader. Thank You for his example. And may this zeal be contagious to others, that they may watch and say, “he has worked with God this day; I will also,” and pick up their swords. (1 Samuel 14:45)

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