1 Samuel 20:34-42 Tearing down the old and rebuilding the new
1 Samuel 21:34-42
34 Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat on that second day of the festival, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
35 The next morning, as agreed, Jonathan went out into the field and took a young boy with him to gather his arrows. 36 “Start running,” he told the boy, “so you can find the arrows as I shoot them.” So the boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy had almost reached the arrow, Jonathan shouted, “The arrow is still ahead of you. 38 Hurry, hurry, don’t wait.” So the boy quickly gathered up the arrows and ran back to his master. 39 He, of course, suspected nothing; only Jonathan and David understood the signal. 40 Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy and told him to take them back to town.
41 As soon as the boy was gone, David came out from where he had been hiding near the stone pile. Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.
42 At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.
Jonathan, having realized the true intention of his father, was crushed in his spirit. Saul’s unreasoning and despicable behavior has not only caused the loss of a good man but it also brought a dreadful end to his own dynasty. David, despite his unrelenting loyalty towards Saul is forced to part with everything that he holds dear. But unaware to David, God is building a new foundation for Israel in preparation for an enduring kingdom starting with David himself. Today’s passage teaches that God is actively tearing down old and faulty foundations in our lives so that He could build new foundations that will lead to a glorious and enduring ministry. In tearing down old foundations, believers unlearn the old mindsets thus giving way to the new mindset and values system of Christ.
Jonathan left the table in fierce anger … for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David – What was originally a festival of rejoicing was marred by disappointment and grief. Jonathan was crushed because he could not accept how his own father, a king would behave in such a despicable way. Jonathan grieves over the corruption of darkness and jealousy within the royal family; he grieves over the lost opportunities to prosper God’s glorious kingdom; most of all, he grieves at the inexorable shame of Saul’s legacy that will go down the history of Israel.
Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground – As soon as the agreed arrangements is carried out, David expresses his utmost respect and loyalty towards his friend by bowing three times with his face to the ground. David’s grief is even greater than Jonathan’s as he now a fugitive grieves the loss of his friend, his family, lost opportunities to fight for his nation, and most of all the fact that he is now an enemy of the state without reason.
The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever – Jonathan invokes the name of the Lord who serves as the administrator and witness of the covenant of love and peace between Jonathan and David’s family. Although Saul has appointed war with David, their bond is firmly founded in God: for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name, and such a bond rises above the selfish politics of men and it endures for generations on end.
- Sometimes you have to lose what you possess in the present in order to gain the exceeding glory of the future. Losing what you have in the present is heartbreaking, but it is necessary in order to gain the glory that God has prepared in the future. If the present environment poses a hindrance to your journey, or if the present foundations are inappropriate, then God has to tear them down in order to rebuild them. David has to lose everything, his home, his family, his possessions, his title and authority so that God can build an enduring foundation for him. Saul’s dynasty is founded not on the sovereign will of God, but on the will of man. Saul himself was chosen with characteristics that the people desires: tall and handsome in appearance, concerned with the things of man and despicably ambitious. As a result, his court is fielded with people of like characteristics and is thus grossly inappropriate for a heavenly kingdom. The stripping process is excruciatingly traumatic for David, but it yields a right and enduring foundation for a magnificent house and ministry. Hebrews 12:10-11 say concerning God’s work of discipline in believers’ lives,
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10-11
God’s discipline involves stripping away our fleshly fixations or obsessions, and our confidence in the human worldview of things. For some, God has stripped away his physical wealth so that he could focus on the heavenly riches; his carnal dreams so that he could adopt God’s vision, his confidence so that he could walk in obedience to His truth, and his rational so that he could learn God’s wisdom. The process of discipline and stripping, involves unlearning and relearning, demolishing and rebuilding, and obeying God’s instructions one step at a time.
- The Lord is the administrator and witness of all covenants. The Lord holds all parties responsible for their word of commitment. Whether the parties are aware of God’s participation therein, He remains the third unseen signatory to all contractual agreements. Jonathan and David, despite their affinity and proven loyalty towards each other, God remains the indispensable witness to their pack: The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever. Therefore, we have to be aware of the seriousness and finality of our commitments to one another. James say,
But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. James 5:12
There is no necessity to lend greater weight to our commitments by invoking the name of God. All our commitments regardless of the setting automatically involve God as the administrator and witness of it. Hence, all agreements must be made with utter seriousness being well aware of the divine consequences that will ensue.
- Sometimes the closest and most loyal people are those who have no prior relations with you – True and loyal friendships are not defined by familial relationships, or chemistry but by integrity, similarity of life goals and values systems. A man of integrity, who lives by God’s vision will appeal to another with similar traits. The converse is also true: a man who is selfishly ambitious will not bode well with anyone, not even with his own family. Jonathan saw what was in David and the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (1 Samuel 18:1). Yet for Saul, he could not agree with both his daughter Michal and his son Jonathan. Therefore, it is unrealistic to expect your family members to come to your rescue when you need help or to go through a crisis with you. However, if you put on the virtues of Christ, you will have no lack of the likes of David and Jonathan in your life.
- Have you in recent years lost things that are precious to you? Come before God and contemplate the new foundations that God is rebuilding in preparation for a glorious future.
- Do you have an unrealistic expectations of your family to help you out of your troubles? While it is not wrong to expect that, but we need to really shift our dependence from family to God. Man may fall short of your expectations, but God will never fail you.
Dear Lord, I ask you to continue to tear down and rebuild the foundations of my life. Fill me with your Spirit of hope and joy so that I may walk in your truth. Help me to become a trusty friend, a Jonathan to another to help in the times of distress. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.