In a recent issue of PreachingNow I made reference to Jonathan and his armor-bearer. In response, David Kitley (one of our UK readers) sent me a fascinating story which appeared in the book The Bible as History but was originally told by Francis Schaeffer in his L'Abri lectures: That Saul was a tactician of a high order has recently, after 3,000 years, been demonstrated anew. One example, unique in its way, shows how accurate the Bible is even in the smallest details and how reliable are its dates and information.
We owe to Major Vivian Gilbert, a British army officer, this description of a truly remarkable occurrence. Writing in his reminiscences he says: "In the First World War a brigade major in Allenby's army in Palestine was on one occasion searching his Bible with the light of a candle, looking for a certain name. His brigade had received orders to take a village that stood on a rocky prominence on the other side of a deep valley. It was called Michmash and the name seemed somehow familiar. Eventually he found it in 1 Sam. 13 and read there: 'And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.'
"It then went on to tell how Jonathan and his armour-bearer crossed over during the night 'to the Philistines' garrison' on the other side, and how they passed two sharp rocks: 'there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez and the name of the other Seneh' (1 Sam. 14:4). They clambered up the cliff and overpowered the garrison, 'within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plough.' The main body of the enemy awakened by the melee thought they were surrounded by Saul's troops and 'melted away and they went on beating down one another' (1 Sam. 14:14-16). Thereupon Saul attacked with his whole force and beat the enemy. 'So the Lord saved Israel that day.'
"The brigade major reflected that there must still be this narrow passage through the rocks, between the two spurs, and at the end of it the 'half acre of land.' He woke the commander and they read the passage through together once more. Patrols were sent out. They found the pass, which was thinly held by the Turks, and which led past two jagged rocks -- obviously Bozez and Seneh. Up on top, beside Michmash, they could see by the light of the moon a small flat field. The brigadier altered his plan of attack. Instead of deploying the whole brigade he sent one company through the pass under cover of darkness. The few Turks whom they met were overpowered without a sound, the cliffs were scaled, and shortly before daybreak the company had taken up a position on 'the half acre of land.'
"The Turks woke up and took to their heels in disorder since they thought that they were being surrounded by Allenby's army. They were all killed or taken prisoner.
"And so", concludes Major Gilbert, "after thousands of years British troops successfully copied the tactics of Saul and Jonathan."
(From The Bible as History by Werner Keller, published by Hodder and Stoughton, London 1956. Quoted by Francis Schaeffer in his lectures at L'Abri, Huemoz, Switzerland in the late 1960s.)