“not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help..”

My ongoing obsession with righteous disobedience to wicked authority isn’t just the product of my own contrarian, cranky nature.  I see it so many times in the Bible that I thought I would begin making an inventory of how many times God seems to smile on those who defy tyrants.  Hashtag #GoodFight.

Today’s example comes from 1 Samuel 13.

During battle with the Philistines, Saul’s son, Jonathan, decides to take on an enemy outpost with only the help of his armor-bearer.  Contrary to what might seem like timeless military standards, and Biblical obligation to parents, Jonathan doesn’t tell his father or the rest of the army.  His faith in the Lord is so great, he believes he can win a great victory.  “It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.”  Jonathan’s faith was rewarded.  He and his armor-bearer kill 20 of the enemy, and the Philistines are thrown into such God-inspired fear, they begin to scatter.

Meanwhile, Saul commands his entire army to fast until sunset, and later, when Jonathan, unaware of the command, tastes some honey, the people remind him that his father called any man to be cursed if they broke the fast.  Jonathan contradicts his father’s words and argues that the army should enjoy the spoils of their victory and their eyes would brighten as his did when he tasted of the honey.

Later, when Saul doesn’t receive a battle answer from God, he calls the people together to see who might be responsible for this radio-silence.

“Come here, all you leaders of the people, and know and see how this sin has arisen today. For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.”

We already have three incidents of disobedience..

  • Jonathan conducted his own battle plan without telling his father.  Did he feel dad was being too cautious?  Was he so consumed with zeal for the Lord that it crowded out all other concerns?  We can’t be certain, but God appeared to be blessing this cowboy-style, totally unauthorized, commando raid.
  • Jonathan, unwittingly, breaks his father’s command by eating the honey.
  • Jonathan boldly undermines his father the king’s commandment by arguing the army should march on a full stomach.

But now, when Saul demands to know who has broken the fast, none of the people who witnessed Jonathan eating honey offered up any testimony.  This was a direct, collective defiance of authority.  Number 4.

But it gets better..

When Saul finds out that Jonathan had broken the fast, we have the following exchange..

Jonathan:  “Here I am; I will die.”
Saul: “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan.”

The humility of Jonathan is surely an indication of supreme self-sacrifice in the face of heartless tyranny by the king.  He appears to be submitting to the king’s authority.  Perhaps he knew that God wouldn’t let the story end that way..

Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die.

The people, to their great glory, defied the king and refused to engage in a murder sanctioned by the king. They lived out the Proverbs 24 command “rescue those being taken away to slaughter.”

By my count that is five (5) instances of righteous defiance in just one passage of scripture.

Whenever we ponder the words, “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves,” we must remember how God defines that authority.  (Frighten the wicked, praise the good.)  Saul didn’t qualify on either front.

You have absolutely no obligation to obey wicked rulers.  Ask Jonathan’s friends.