How to Deal with Overwhelming Odds through Your Powerful God

Michmash shows us the power of God in our lives.

When the Bible includes geographical references, they appear as more than throwaway statements. Often they play a vital role in our understanding and application of the Bible.

Michmash—Overwhelming Odds and Your Powerful God

(Photo: Cliffs near Michmash and Geba. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For example, geography bears importance as to how Jonathan and his armor-bearer—only two men—could help rout the entire Philistine army.

The geographic descriptions given in 1 Samuel 14:4-5 describe two steep crags on either side of a great ravine separating Geba on the south from Michmash on the north. Here Jonathan and his armor bearer scaled the crags for a surprise attack on the Philistine garrison at Michmash.

Because geography does not change, these natural elements remain for us to easily imagine the story.

As well as its application.

Jonathan—the Original Free Soloing Rock Climber

The modern highway traverses the Wadi Suwenit at an ancient, natural bridge the Scriptures call, “The Pass” (cf. Isaiah 10:29).

The garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash. —1 Sam. 13:23

The modern Arab villages of Mukhmas and Jaba preserve the ancient names of Michmash and Geba, and the cliffs between them leave little room for doubt as to the authenticity of the location.

Michmash and the Pass

(Photo: Locations of the events of 1 Samuel 14. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The outnumbered and frightened Hebrews of Saul’s day hid themselves in caves along the Valley of Zeboim.

  • It is also by way of this valley (the main route from the Ephraimite hills to the Jordan Valley) that many Hebrews crossed the Jordan River into the land of Gad and Gilead (1 Sam 13:6).
  • The Philistines placed a garrison at Michmash where they could both monitor and use this valley road to make periodic raids, maintaining control of the area (1 Sam 13:17-18).
Map of Michmash battle

(Map of Michmash battle, courtesy of Satellite Bible Atlas)

When Jonathan determined to climb the ravine to assault the Philistine garrison, instead of traveling along “the Pass” (the normal ascent to Michmash) he attempted something very difficult—and took the Philistines by surprise.

Jonathan said to his armor bearer, ‘Come up after me, for the LORD has given them into the hands of Israel.’ Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer behind him; and they fell before Jonathan. —1 Samuel 14:12–13

The names of the steep crags imply the difficulty in scaling them. “Seneh” means “the Thorny One,” and “Bozez” means “the Gleaming One” or “the Miry One.”

Cliffs near Michmash and Geba

(Photo: Cliffs near Michmash and Geba. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Difficult Geography Highlights the Power of God

The victory came from more than geographical strategy. Ultimately, two men gained victory over twenty soldiers because the Lord was with them (1 Sam 14:6, 12, 23). Jonathan said it this way:

Perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few. —1 Samuel 14:6

Once this area was controlled, God intervened and sent panic throughout the Philistine army. Moreover, in spite of the fact that Israel had no decent weapons of war, the author specifically notes that it was “the LORD [who] delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven” (1 Sam 14:23) and “from Michmash to Aijalon” (1 Sam 14:31). Evidently this is the last time Philistine domination controlled the Central Benjamin Plateau.

Interestingly, God used the victory at Michmash to relocate the Philistine invasion of the Hill Country south via the Elah Valley. This provided the stage upon which God would elevate David as the national hero who would one day become king.

Struggling against impossible odds today? Jonathan’s faith and God’s faithfulness reveal the truth of Jonathan’s statement:

The LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.

Question: What impossible circumstance are you trusting God for today? To leave a comment, just click here.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just keep it kind and relevant. Thanks!

  • Paulmitchl

    During World War I, British forces under the command of General Allenby were to face the Turks at the same location. Major Vivian Gilbert of the British army relates the story of an unnamed brigade major who was reading his Bible while contemplating the situation against the Ottoman forces. The brigade major remembered a town by the name of Michmash mentioned somewhere in the Bible. He found the verses, and discovered that there was supposedly a secret path around the town. He woke the brigadier general, and they found that the path still existed and was very lightly guarded. The British forces used this path to outmanoeuver the Ottomans, and so took the town. The Romance of the Last Crusade, 1923, Major Vivian Gilbert, pages 183-6 as cited in Wikipedia

    • I have heard of this story, Paulmitci, and it’s amazing. I think I saw it in a video documentary at some point. Thanks for mentioning it here.

  • Pingback: Rephidim—How to Win the Battle You Face Today | Wayne Stiles()

  • bestforex

    You can watch the video on youtube. “Against All Odds Israel Survives” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i70CHHIW_Co

  • Kenard E Smith

    Michmash: Excellent commentary and applications, Wayne. The aerials and graphics amplified the story well.

    • Thank you, Kenard. That’s a place I’ll never forget. Such a powerful God displayed there. Thanks.
      God bless.

  • Michelle thick

    Im trusting God to change my whole life. To become closer to him and to plz him. So that he will provide for me and protect me.

    • He certainly is committed to all of that, Michelle. He will draw you closer to Him, and He will provide and protect—according to His grand plan in your life.

  • Dwight

    Facing financial difficulties and vocation challenges, I need Gods intervention in our circumstances, quickly! Thank you….

    • I just prayed for you, Dwight. I hope you’ve asked others to lift you up as well. God is faithful. His timing is perfect, but rarely early. 🙂

  • Timisha Burnside

    It’s funny that I just completed the books of Samuel. It was so intriguing to read about the life of Saul and David. God was truly highlighted during that time of their living. And now seeing the story from Wayne’s prospective opened my eyes to a vivid set back of how Jonathan did what he did, not excluding God’s powerful hands.

    • We must be on a similar reading plan, Timisha! I recently completed reading this incident with Jonathan. What a great, godly example. Thanks.

  • ARM BAR

    Actually i have been begging God to help me for my need for so many years,yes i’m still trying to keep close to Him because it is not easy for me,and my impossible circumstance is so heavy and it seems very impossible for me or any other people to get it,unless there is a great Miracle from God himself,but i have a question,would He do that for me?,thank you Wayne.

    • It’s impossible to know God’s will in these matters, of course. He could do it, but would He? We trust Him that whatever He chooses or allows is for our good and for His glory.