I am currently reading through 1 Samuel in some of my devotions. I love the Old Testament stories and I always seem to make new discoveries, like some little aspect that I had never noticed before. The writers of Old Testament history included a lot more detail than we sometimes recognize.
In 1 Samuel 13, we are told that the Philistines had 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen and troops, “like sand on the seashore in multitude.” (v. 5) The Philistines were fighting King Saul’s men, all 3,000 of them. The Philistines had the advantage and the Israelites were locked up in the mountains with no way of escape. They were outnumbered.
The writer tells us that there was no blacksmith in all the land of Israel. It turns out the Philistines controlled the latest technology at the time: the ability to make and sharpen iron. The Israelites were still in the Bronze Age while their enemy had moved from analogue to digital. Samuel even records how much the Philistines would charge for sharpening an axe or plowshare. They were outnumbered and outgunned (metaphorically speaking).
Why so much detail? It is clear by the end of chapter 13 that Israel has no chance. The odds of them defeating the Philistines were very low. And yet…there is always the God factor. In chapter 14, Jonathan, King Saul’s son, decides to see what might happen if they try. He says to his armor-bearer, “It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)
If you are feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered; if you feel like the enemy has you surrounded and there is no way forward; if you think you are too small or too feeble to deal with your circumstances…remember the Israelites and their situation. After Jonathan stepped up in faith, the writer records, “So the Lord saved Israel that day.” (1 Samuel 14:23)
It’s good to acknowledge our weakness and lack of strength because then we make room for God to come and fight our battles. Who knows, “It may be” that the Lord will work out this battle for you.