They Killed Each Other 1 Sam. 14:16 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
When Jonathan and his armor bearer attacked a garrison of the Philistines, they killed about 20 men [1 Sam 14:14]. But after that, a great multitude died when they killed each other. In battle, there are times when the fear is so high, the retreat so confused and the battle so disorganized, that many men die from what we would call “friendly fire,” troops killing their own troops. Look at some of these other cases: 1 Sam 14:20; Jud 7:22; 2 Chr 20:22-24.
Now, these are cases of God intervening on Israel’s behalf and confusing their enemies so badly that they killed each other. Nevertheless, we can take some lessons from these occurrences. You see, we are in a spiritual battle [Eph 6:10-18]. And it is vital that in this spiritual battle we keep from killing our own. By studying these armies who killed each other we can learn why they killed each other and how to keep from killing our own:
They couldn’t identify the real enemy – 1 Sam 14:16, 20 – once the swords started slaying, the soldiers couldn’t tell whether the person they were fighting was friend or foe. They were just slashing at anyone who moved.
Now, get this. Our enemy is the devil [Eph 6:11-12]. He knows that if he can catch us by surprise, like often happens in these battles, he can get us to start fighting each other instead of him. You have to remember that we are not fighting against “flesh and blood.” We are not the enemy. We are the body and the devil is the enemy. Keep your sword facing out, not in.
They were retreating instead of standing and fighting – 1 Sam 14:16 – the multitude melted away. In two of these cases it wasn’t until they turned and ran that they started killing each other.
If you consider the whole armor of God, there is nothing in the armor to protect your back. Your armor is not designed for running away from the battle. It is designed for you to stand and fight. As long as you stand and fight against the real enemy, you are less likely to see a slaughter among your brethren from friendly fire. Keeping praying together, keep sowing the seed of the word of God, keep trying to make inroads against those who don’t already know the Lord, keep doing the Lord’s work as good soldiers, and so forth.
They were confused and afraid – 1 Sam 14:15 – contrast 1 Sam 4:9. Fear and confusion took their courage and it was every man for himself after that. They were so scared and confused that they were killing each other.
We are to never be afraid with the Lord on our side. God is not the author of confusion. If you find yourself in a situation where, during battle with the devil, you are uncertain and afraid, draw close to God and encourage yourself in the Lord. For the Lord’s sake don’t give in to the fear and don’t try to make sound decisions in confusion. You could end up “killing” somebody. Regroup under the Lord’s ensign and work for, not against, the other men in the army. Faith is the victory!!
They were proud and over confident – 1 Sam 14:12 – each time these armies destroyed themselves, they thought destroying Israel was going to be just a matter of mopping up. They had no idea what it was going to be like to fight against Israel and the Lord. Once the battle started their pride was not nearly enough to give them the victory.
If you want to set yourself up for a big fall, then just go out against someone in pride [Prov 16:18]. Christian brothers and sisters commonly get in a tiff and try to set the battle in array against each other. When you think you’re right and that you have the upper hand against someone else in the Lord’s army, you better just humble yourself before the Lord and keep quiet. If there is a problem, let the Lord fight it. If he decides that there is no reason for vengeance on your behalf, there won’t be a fight. In any case, you won’t be destroyed because you won’t be in the fight with a friend.
You know whether there is envy and animosity in your heart toward someone. Evidently, these are the things that caused the armies in 2 Chr 20 to destroy each other. Get that stuff out of your heart, obey God, and keep thy heart with all diligence.
They picked a fight they shouldn’t have had – 1 Sam 17:26 – they should have never gone after Israel. Israel has a history of coming out on top and the prophecies of the future indicate that Israel will win in the end and come out as the ruling nation of the world. No nation should ever take the bait to enter into a fight with Israel.
Likewise, there is never a reason for you to pick a fight with one of God’s soldiers. If you get into a fight with God’s children, you are going to wish in the end that you had never picked that fight. You will find that battle will turn against you. And others among you will go down in the fight with you.
They didn’t have the Lord on their side – 1 Sam 4:6, 10, 12, 23 – Israel had the Lord on their side. These nations who ran and destroyed themselves didn’t have the Lord on their side. And so, God used their own swords against them.
We, on the other hand, have the Lord on our side. He is our helper and our shield. So, in our spiritual battle with the devil, we shouldn’t have to worry about turning and running or destroying each other because we are the Lord’s army. We are soldiers of the cross. We have divine help that surpasses the strength of our enemy.
Conclusion: remember these lessons and don’t ever get in a fight with a fellow soldier!! They are the Lord’s soldiers, and if there is a score to be settled with them, let the Lord do it. He is our commander.