The Audacity Of Faith

First Samuel 14 contains a breathtaking, action-packed story, one that would make any modern blockbuster seem tame in comparison. But the most exciting part of the story might not be where you expect it. It is not in nail-biting suspense (though there is that) or in an underdog victory (and there is that, too). It is in the simple act of faith of one of God’s people. Faith is always exciting, even thrilling, because it believes in a God with whom there are endless possibilities. In the words of an old chorus by Charles Wesley,

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities
And cries: It shall be done!1

Let us set the scene. Saul, though king, is hanging back from a growing Philistine threat, leaving his son Jonathan to take matters into his own hands. Jonathan and his armor bearer decide to make what appears to be a suicide mission to attack a garrison of Philistine soldiers. The Philistines have more fighters, more weapons, and the high ground, but Jonathan is determined. Between him and the garrison are two rocky crags, named Bozez (which means “slippery,” or “slippy” if you are from Central PA) and Seneh (which means “thorny”). They are not easy to pass, but he and his armor bearer make the trek anyway. When they are spotted, the Philistines arrogantly invite them into the camp. After all, what threat could two men pose to them? Things take quite a different turn for the Philistines than they were expecting: “And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer killed them after him. And that first strike, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, killed about twenty men within as it were half a furrow’s length in an acre of land” (vv. 13–14). This starts a domino effect that sends the entire Philistine army running, turning on one another in a great confusion, and which secures a near-effortless victory for the Israelites.

What leads him and his armor bearer into this audacious attack is this logic: “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few” (v. 6). As we have said, this is actually the high point of the narrative. It is not Jonathan’s fight, but his faith. And his statement is one well worth our reflection. It is informative for us as revealing the nature of a true and trusting faith in the Lord. God wants us to be like Jonathan. Not to be the brave, solo figure who does something that everyone else is scared to do. The most impressive thing Jonathan does here is not killing twenty Philistines; it is believing in the promises of God. So let us look at Jonathan’s faith—a faith in the God who crushes the odds stacked against Him—and notice three things about it.

Faith’s Confidence

Jonathan makes a bold statement, or declaration, of the truth of God’s power and ability. “Nothing can hinder God from saving.” It is a truth we find throughout the Scriptures. God says to Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen 18:14). Jeremiah prays, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you” (Jer 32:17). Gabriel tells Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Jesus reminds the disciples, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

These statements are all preaching the doctrine of the omnipotence of God, or God’s almightiness. God is not just mighty, he is all mighty—he not only has all might, but all that he has is might, strength, and power. There is no weakness in God at all. It is not simply that there is nothing too hard for God—it is that there is nothing hard for God at all! A pastor friend of mine dabbles in weightlifting and strongman competitions as a hobby (our hobbies are very different!). I recently saw an impressive photo of him pulling a semi-truck—17,500 pounds! Though the photo is an unmistakable testimony to his strength, it also captures something else: his sweat. Pulling the semi-truck is not too hard for him, but it is clearly hard. God does not break a sweat. James Henley Thornwell, the American Southern presbyterian of the 1800s, puts it like this: for God, “it is as easy to create a world as to move a feather, to uphold all things as to speak a word.”2

This is the God you and I believe in. If this is not God, then he would not be worth believing in at all. So faith comes built upon this premise: God is powerful to do what he promises. Faith has the confidence that nothing can hinder the Lord from saving.

Faith’s Humility

But notice that even with that premise, there is still no presumption in true faith. Faith is both confident and humble. We see that humility in what Jonathan says. “It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few” (v. 6, emphasis added). Are these two statements in contradiction? If nothing can hinder God, why does not Jonathan say, “The Lord will work for us!” Instead, he says the Lord “may” work for them. It is not that he doubts. It is not that he is hedging his bets. Rather, it is that Jonathan is not presuming on God to do whatever he asks of him. Real faith, true faith, keeps God as God. Once we start telling God what to do, he has ceased to be God in our minds and has become our puppet. Faith brings us to God as those who humbly wait upon his will.

Some people think that to pray “If you will” sucks the life out of prayer. Where is the boldness in saying “Lord-willing”? So the reasoning goes. Rather, however, that sort of language and posture keeps us praying, and prevents us from slipping into demanding. There are certain things we know are God’s will. We do not need to pray, “Lord, if it be your will, keep me from sin.” That is God’s will! “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). But a lot of our life is blurrier than that. We know God’s ability, but we do not always know God’s will. And faithful Christians do not demand to know it either.

Faith’s Action

But herein lies what makes Jonathan’s story and faith so breathtaking. He acknowledges that God can save; he also acknowledges that God might not save at this time or in this way—but he still presses on! His faith is humble, but it still acts. Is that how you would respond if you were in his situation? What if you knew for sure God was able, but you did not know if God would be willing? I think that would paralyze a lot of us. But it does the exact opposite in Jonathan. “It may be that the Lord will work for us,” is almost a statement of eager excitement. It is as though he is saying to his armor bearer, “Who knows what God can do! The possibilities are endless!” Those possibilities, though unknown, do not paralyze Jonathan, but actually push him forward into God-glorifying action.

The same truth propelled the Ninevites into God-glorifying repentance. Do you remember the logic used by the king after Jonah had gone on his preaching tour through the land? Convicted of sin, he does not despair; nor does he double down on his iniquity. He does not say, “We are so bad, we might as well just eat, drink, and be merry because there is no chance of God being good to us.” If there was anyone who could perhaps come to that conclusion it would be the Ninevites, wicked and violent lot that they were. But instead of despair, we see the audacity of faith in the king’s response as well: “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:8–9, emphasis added). Sinners gripped by fear will draw away from the God who is all-powerful, but those guided by faith will be drawn to him. The question, “Who knows?”—like Jonathan’s “the Lord may”—is accented not with doubt, but with hope in the possibilities provided by a God who does “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).


Maybe you need that same push today. You might feel like you are on the precipice of a terrifying decision or situation in life in which you feel like if you take the wrong step you will plummet. You know God can work for you, but will he work in the way you are hoping or planning for? If you knew he would, maybe you would not be so anxious. Before you act you want answers. Jonathan did not know, but he acted anyway. He knew nothing was too great for God, and that was enough. If this is your God, then be fueled by faith, not crippled by fear. Be fueled to serve God even in the most difficult of situations, and prepare to be exhilarated by the ways God will work for you.


  1. Charles Wesley, “Faith, Mighty Faith,” n.d.
  2. Quoted in Terry Johnson’s The Identity and Attributes of God (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2019), 63–64.

©Jonathan Landry Cruse. All Rights Reserved.


Heidelberg Reformation Association
1637 E. Valley Parkway #391
Escondido CA 92027
The HRA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!

Posted by Jonathan Landry Cruse | Tuesday, March 19, 2024 | Categorized in Christian Life, Faith. Jonathan Landry Cruse. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jonathan Landry Cruse

Jonathan Landry Cruse pastors Community Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Kalamazoo, MI, where he lives with his wife and children. He also serves as an editor for Modern Reformation and is the author of several books, including What Happens When We Worship (RHB, 2020), The Character of Christ (Banner of Truth, 2023), and Church Membership (P&R, 2024).


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane, deny the gospel, advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession, or irritate the management are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.