When the Israelites clamored for a king to fight their battles—rejecting God as their king—Saul was selected (1 Samuel 8:7, 19-20; 10:18-24; 12:12-13). After reigning on the throne for two years, Saul had an army of 3,000 men, 1,000 of whom were under the command of his son Jonathan (1 Samuel 13:1-2). The Philistines readied a daunting military force of 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and people as numerous as the sand on the seashore to meet the Israelites in battle (1 Samuel 13:5). Saul’s army was so frightened that they ran and hid themselves (1 Samuel 13:6). After Saul had sinned in attempting to present unauthorized offerings to the Lord, Samuel rebuked Saul and the situation grew even dimmer (1 Samuel 13:8-14); only 600 men were present with Saul (1 Samuel 13:16). Moreover, their lack of weaponry is described in 1 Samuel 13:19-22:
Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.
Thus, only two swords, one for Saul and one for Jonathan, could be found among the entire Israelite army.
Israel was unarmed to meet the foe and frightened before an enemy that vastly outnumbered them. The Lord’s church is described in the New Testament as the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). Though our warfare is not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4), the need for God’s people to be armed against Satan’s assaults could not be more pressing. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-13:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
God’s word is sharp as a sword (Hebrews 4:12). We are to take, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Trials, temptations, skepticism, fraudulent religions and false doctrines surround you. But God is with you and He is greater than the world (1 John 4:4). God delivered Israel through Jonathan (1 Samuel 14); there is no telling how much God can do through one person armed with His word today. Do not be left unarmed to meet the foe. Spend enough time with God’s word that you make it a part of you. With the word of God you can “war a good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18), you can “fight the good fight of faith,” and “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12).