The Philistines have been a thorn in Israelís side for so long, and have established themselves so well in some areas, that they have been able to keep the Israelites in a state of weakness. This is symbolised strongly by the fact that Israel has no blacksmiths. The Philistines have not allowed it in the areas where they are powerful.
Instead, the Israelites have actually paid the Philistines to do their metal working for them, even down to sharpening their farming tools. Of course, the Philistines have not made any weapons for the Israelites, at any price.
So here are Saul and Jonathan, with their fearful and dwindling army, and only the two of them have swords or spears. Itís a desperate situation.
We have to wonder what has been happening in Israel. Were the Israelites content under Philistine rule? Was there no resistance? No enterprising young person secretly learning the craft of metalworking in preparation for the overthrow of their oppressors? It seems as though the people have got used to relying on these invaders to do the tasks they should have been able to do themselves, and now, when they need those skills, they are left weak and unprepared.
It is sometimes easy to sit back and let others do things for us. It may seem as though we have very good reasons for allowing that to happen. But if we do not do our part, however small, then when the time comes for action, we are found unprepared and weak. We cannot rely on our leaders for everything. It is not enough for only Saul and Jonathan to have weapons when the whole nation is going into battle. We each have our part to play, and we need to be as ready as the next person.
Letís commit this week to sharpening our skills Ė in prayer, in knowledge of the Word, in love for one another Ė we canít leave any of these things to someone else.