Saul’s lookouts saw “the army melting away in all directions” (v. 16). Saul investigates to find which men had left them — and discovers it is Jonathan and his armor-bearer.
Then Saul asks that the ark be brought. But the “tumult” and the “total confusion” in the Philistine army caused them to strike one another (v. 19-20). The Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines (POW’s?) went over to the Israelites. Those who had hidden in the hill country joined the battle when they heard that the Philistines were on the run. “So on that day the Lord saved Israel” (v. 23).
Some takeaways for today:
1. Sometimes the Lord sends not peace, but panic! He is not a God of confusion, but He can inflict confusion on His enemies!
2. He gets the credit for saving Israel on this day. But notice — those who had hidden joined the battle and fought the Philistines!
3. It appears that Saul was prepared to use the ark as a good luck symbol for Israel, but the Lord caused the Philistine army to turn their swords on each other. We can trust the Lord to take care of His own!