The Battle of Michmash

Battle of Michmash
Early in Saul's reign, Jonathan, his son and chief General, defeated a small Philistine garrison at Geba.  This aroused the ire of the Philistines who were ruling Israel comfortably in the land (1 Samuel 13:3-4).  However, after the attack Israel was odious to the Philistines.  The Philistines mustered their great army at Michmash with 30,000 chariots and 6,000 mounted calvary and a large army too big to count of perhaps 60,000 soldiers.  Israel's army was 600 in comparison (1 Samuel 13:5, 15; 14:2).

After Saul mustered his army at Gilgal, he marched to Gibeah.  The Philistines decided to flank him and draw him into a trap.  They sent an army toward Ophrah, another toward Beth-horon, and another toward Zeboim toward the desert, which was probably toward Jericho.  In other words they sent armies to the east and west to try to out flank Saul's scratch army.  They also backed up to draw Saul into the trap so they could surround him.  The Philistine armies are called raiders, or terrorists, because they terrorized Israel.  When the men of Israel heard that the Philistines were coming, they ran for the hills, and Saul's army of 3,000 dwindled to 600.

Jonathan, who was Saul's top general, was at Geba, which was separated from Michmash by a steep ravine.  Jonathan took his armor bearer out on a secret reconnaissance patrol north toward Michmash (1 Samuel 14:3-5).  Jonathan was applying Bible Doctrine to take the high ground.  He told his armor bearer that they would reveal themselves to the Philistines.  If the Philistines said, "Wait until we come to you," that would be a bad sign because the Philistines would be going down the cliff.  However, if they said, "Come up to us," then Jonathan would have the green light to take the high ground (1 Samuel 14:6-10).  This is a simple test to leave room for the grace of God.  In the Bible, going up represents victory, and going down represents defeat.

When the Philistines saw Jonathan in the ravine, they said, "Come up to us and we will tell you something" (1 Samuel 14:12).  Jonathan knew "the battle is the Lord's" and that the Lord had given him victory; so he climbed up the cliff.  As soon as he reached the top, he charged the Philistines and began cutting them down with his sword.  His armor bearer was behind him finishing off the wounded.  Note:  They killed the enemy.  Jonathan killed about 20 men in the "furrow of an acre," which is the length of an acre, or about 200 feet.  As he charged, they ran from him, and he cut them down from behind.  Note:  He killed the enemy.

Well, there was obviously a lot of screaming from the Philistines that Jonathan and his armor bearer were hacking down.  It was the sound of a battle coming from the cliff where nobody expected an attack up the cliff.  When the rest of the Philistine headquarters heard the screams, they panicked because they thought they were under attack.  They couldn't see that it was only two men doing all this.  But two men and God are a majority.  And God pitched in with an earthquake about that time, which is enough to frighten anyone, especially the superstitious Philistines.  Now, the Philistines had Hebrews with them in their army.  The Hebrews immediately switched sides and began killing Philistines, which further added to the confusion.

Saul's spies immediately saw the commotion in the Philistine camp, and Saul recognized it as an attack from Israel.  He immediately took a head count to find out who was missing and discovered Jonathan and his armor bearer were gone.  As the sound of battle grew louder, Saul proceeded with his army of 600 and joined the Hebrews who were fighting with Jonathan.  As the Philistines from Michmash began to scatter, the men of Ephraim, who had hidden in the hills in fear, suddenly got courage and attacked the column of Philistines that were marching west.  This blind-sided the Philistines, who were not aware of any soldiers in the hills, and the Philistines began to run southwest toward Ajalon about 3 miles from Michmash.  Philistines also scattered to the east to Beth-haven, which was east of Michmash contrary to incorrect translations.  There was victory over the Philistines, but nothing like there could have been if the Saul had been able to lead the troops to kill the enemy.

Saul had the army fasting that day, which was a false application of Doctrine.  Fasting should only be directed by the Lord.  Troops should be fed for the day of battle so they can kill the enemy.  Let the priests fast and the army eat.

The great victory at Michmash was due to the heroism of Jonathan and his armor bearer, who obeyed the Lord.  Two men who would obey the Lord set off the chain reaction that led to the defeat of an army of perhaps 100,000.  The number, 2, stands for divine division, or separation, which the meaning of the year 2002.  Jonathan, who was in fellowship with God, took the high ground and won the Lord's victory.  Jonathan recognized the size of the army doesn't matter as long as God is for you.  God separated Jonathan and his armor bearer out to give Israel the victory.  Jonathan was willing to trust God with his life against all odds.  In order to do so, he had to separate from his own father, who was a legalistic believer in reversionism even in his early years as King.  This is an example of the number, 89, authority counterattack, which is no problem for the mature believer.  The Lord is the higher authority, and those who obey Him will not be disappointed.  Jonathan deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions, but there would have even been a greater slaughter of the enemy if Saul had understood how to apply Bible Doctrine on the field of combat.

Author:  Larry Wood,   Released June 2, 2002

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