armor bearer, the warrior's armor bearer, spiritual warfare, word warriors, Pursuit of the Pudú, Mark Batterson, Jonathan, writing life, prayer, the transforming challenge of mission

The Warrior’s Armor Bearer

Dear friends and readers, I’ve never written a blog post this personal. I’ve never reached out with this kind of request before. But first I’d like to retell an obscure story about Prince Jonathan’s armor bearer, found in the historical book of I Samuel in the Bible.

Jonathan, the son and heir of Israel’s first king, Saul, served in his father’s army. He later became the best friend—a true kindred spirit—of David, who eventually succeeded Saul. I have sometimes wondered why God deposed Jonathan from the royal line, since he too feared and trusted God. Such are the Lord’s sovereign choices.

But well before David burst on the scene of history, Jonathan won a tremendous victory for Israel. While on a military campaign, he decided to cross a pass between sharp mountain crags and invade the enemy garrison of the Philistines.

And he invited his armor bearer to join him. Just the two of them. Jonathan didn’t obligate his companion—he knew the maneuver would be difficult, even dangerous. He didn’t beg either, but he offered the opportunity to participate in whatever adventure God might give them. “Perhaps the Lord will work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few” (I Sam. 14:6, NASB).  

The Armor Bearer

In ancient times, an armor bearer carried a shield and other weapons, equipment, and baggage for a warrior of distinction. Besides caring for the armor, he stood by the warrior and assisted him in battle.

Since the armor bearer was not yet a full-fledged soldier himself, he was probably not more than an older teenager though he had to be strong and fit. Comparable to a junior officer, adjutant, or aide-de-camp in modern armies, his responsibilities required courage and basic military skills.

The warrior often chose his armor bearer based on confidence and friendship as well.  We see Jonathan’s unnamed assistant get on board wholeheartedly with his proposal, saying, “Do all that is in your heart…and here I am with you according to your desire.” (I Sam. 14:7).

The Battle

Jonathan had a plan. He would show himself and see how the enemy reacted. It seemed they were fixing for a fight, but they tried to gain the advantage by trickery first. Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me, for the Lord has given them into the hands of Israel” (v. 12).

Then “he climbed up (the mountain) on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer behind him (v. 13). I can’t help thinking of Frodo and Sam laboring up Mt. Doom together or Aragorn with his companions, Legolas and Gimli, venturing onto the Paths of the Dead (in The Return of the King).

What happened when these two Israelite men dared to move against the Philistines? Perhaps we’re not sure how it all happened, but the earth trembled, the mountain quaked, and the enemy dispersed. And the armor bearer fought as hard as the prince.

Meanwhile, the rest of Israel’s army noticed what was going on, “rallied, and came to the battle” (v.20). Even the men who had previously hidden themselves in the hill country were encouraged to move out (v. 22). Talk about inspiration!

Later, the people defended Jonathan when his father tried to execute him for unknowingly disobeying a foolish order. They rescued him, “for he has worked with God this day” (v. 45). Jonathan gathered a circle of followers and supporters.

The Team

And now, to my request. As Pursuit of the Pudú releases this week, could I invite you to join my prayer team? To accompany me on a spiritual adventure to combat the darkness and advance the cause of Christ’s kingdom in small and big ways?

I’m not passing out formal commitment cards. I won’t ask you to give account (although I’d be delighted to know you). Nor do I have any prizes to offer besides my grateful thanks. But if you care about some of the same things I do, perhaps we can work to impact the world together.

I think I’d just like to find a few friends to share the journey with. Have company as I risk stepping out and into missional projects—stories that are a lot bigger than me and much more than I can handle alone.

“We all have a cloud of witness… family and friends, coaches and teachers, pastors and authors…. To believe that any of those people are in our lives by happenstance is to grossly underestimate the sovereignty of God.” –Mark Batterson, Whisper

I’m so thankful for Lisa, my publisher at Heart Ally, and for Colleen, veteran missionary, editor, and friend. God Himself put these women in my path.

He’s also blessed me with two sets of three daughters: the three I gave (physical) birth to, and the three I nurture here in Chile. They give me plenty to write about. Then there are the beta (first) readers, the mentors and encouragers, even the critics.

But I feel the need for armor bearers.

All Christians live their lives in the midst of a great battle for hearts. We will not arrive in heaven after the war unscathed. But we can finish victorious together.

What is the Job of an Armor Bearer?

Maybe we should call each other “prayer bearers.” The apostle Paul urges us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). This means to help lift the load when another is weary. To care enough to hold their “shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). Sometimes, to carry their baggage, and even to assist in the battle.

I could never “work with God” as Jonathan did without my armor bearers. No way I can even get through a day without the prayers of God’s people.

“There are people we’ve never heard of, hidden figures, who’ve changed the course of history in ways we’re totally unaware of.” –Mark Batterson, Whisper

Maybe the armor bearers don’t receive the glory like the warrior hero. Maybe your name won’t adorn the front cover of a book. Nevertheless, you can still participate on the frontlines at the borders of heaven and hell. Through prayer, you can play a part in a great victory that may change everything for someone.

I can do so little without the nameless armor bearers.

The Requests

On one hand, I have no need to validate myself. No compulsion to justify my writing efforts to anyone but God, either through sales and success or donations and foundations. God know the whys behind and before everything you and I do.

And at the end of life’s day, it won’t matter how many books I wrote, published, and peddled, but how many people I touched and served. Instead of staying safe in the camp like the majority of the Israelite army—or worse, hiding out in spiritual shelters like those timid souls in the hills—let’s move out and say with Jonathan: “Perhaps the Lord will work for us…”

“We’re the beneficiaries of prayer we know nothing about. God was working long before we arrived on the scene and He’s using us to set up the next generation. We tend to think right here, right now. God is thinking nations and generations. We have no idea how our lives are going to alter the course of history downstream, but there is a divine domino effect for every decision we make. Don’t underestimate the potential impact of obeying God’s prompts.” –Mark Batterson, Whisper

Can I prompt you–challenge you–to you to climb with me up the mountain? Thanks for praying…

  • For God’s glory.
  • For victory in spiritual warfare.
  • For reader impact and blessing.
  • For divinely appointed opportunities to share my books.
  • For physical and emotional health.
  • For direction and discipline in this writing life.

Each of those items deserves further detail, which I’ll leave for another day. What are your hopes and dreams and pending decisions? What are your problems and prayer requests? “Perhaps the Lord…”

Just as God has provided me with armor bearers, He has also put some in my path for me to help carry their burdens. Our shift isn’t over in God’s mission yet. As long as we live, our deployment goes on.

Remember, Jonathan may have been the warrior hero of that story. But the armor bearer was his hero. Together, they made a good team.

Love & Prayers, Diana

2 Comments

  1. It’s been a privilege to participate in your journey. You’ve got so much more in you. May our prayers and God’s answers sustain you. ❤️❤️❤️

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