1 Samuel 23:15-29 Leading By Truth & Love
1 Samuel 23:15-29
One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. 16 Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” 18 So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the LORD. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.
19 But now the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah and betrayed David to him. “We know where David is hiding,” they said. “He is in the strongholds of Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, which is in the southern part of Jeshimon. 20 Come down whenever you’re ready, O king, and we will catch him and hand him over to you!”
21 “The LORD bless you,” Saul said. “At last someone is concerned about me! 22 Go and check again to be sure of where he is staying and who has seen him there, for I know that he is very crafty. 23 Discover his hiding places, and come back when you are sure. Then I’ll go with you. And if he is in the area at all, I’ll track him down, even if I have to search every hiding place in Judah!” 24 So the men of Ziph returned home ahead of Saul.
Meanwhile, David and his men had moved into the wilderness of Maon in the Arabah Valley south of Jeshimon. 25 When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock, and he remained there in the wilderness of Maon. But Saul kept after him in the wilderness.
26 Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men, 27 an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again. 28 So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape. 29 David then went to live in the strongholds of En.
Saul’s endeavor to apprehend David continues while Jonathan seeks out David to encourage him. Jonathan and David’s relationship remain faithful because it is undergirded by truth and vision. In today’s passage, we see different leadership styles that are undergirded by fear and by truth and the effect it produces on a long run.
My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel – Just when David is at the point of extreme fear and depression Jonathan arrives to lift him up: Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. The way Jonathan encouraged him is both succinct and heartening: “Don’t be afraid… My father will never find you! You are going to be king of Israel.” Notice there were no lengthy explanations as to why David should not be afraid, just plain assertions that all will be well. Jonathan also invested himself to David by making explicit his loyalty towards him: “I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” Jonathan and David renewed their solemn pack concerning their loyalty towards each other.
At last someone is concerned about me! – The instinct of self-preservation in the men of Ziph seemed to have impelled them to betray David. Saul’s words hints at his self-pity and self-centeredness: At last someone is concerned about me! Ironically, the men of Ziph are not concerned about Saul but they are being led by fear and by their instinct for self-preservation.
The Philistines were raiding Israel again – Meanwhile Saul remains relentless in pursuing David and appears to be closing in. They almost succeeded in apprehending David, but are providentially rerouted by the news of a Philistine raid.
- A forthright and prophetic assertion that appeals to God’s promises towards victory is the most effective form of encouragement. People usually try to lift up the morale of another by redirecting their thoughts away from the negative emotions of depression or anxiety thereby creating positive thoughts that expect favorable results. However, this approach stresses on the use of human resources alone while deliberately giving less attention to the true extent of the problem. David and his men are vastly outnumbered by Saul and his army and every military analysis points to David’s demise as he is disadvantaged at every point. When reality points to imminent failure, faith in God’s promises must be the focal point: Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. Jonathan’s assertions although simplistic, are forthright and prophetic in lifting David’s morale. Positive thinking may alleviate the mental burden for a brief moment, the fact remains that human capabilities are found wanting. Believers in seeking a way to encourage one another must first learn to draw strength from the infinite capacity of the Spirit on a daily basis. Only then, believers are able to help others refocus their hopes on God. Perhaps, forthright and simplistic assertions of God’s promises are all that people need to hear during perilous times.
- The greatest comfort you can offer to another during dire circumstances is your presence. Nothing is more reassuring than your personal presence during times when there are no straightforward answers. There is a tendency to use positive thinking and solutions to alleviate suffering because it does not involve a personal investment of time and empathy. Jonathan encourages David by renewing his covenant assuring him of his continual loyalty: I will be next to you as my father, Saul, is well aware. What is most precious to people is empathy and the readiness to bear each other’s burdens by being present. Positive assertions of a favorable outcome cannot replace the personal presence of one who cares. Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18). Jesus makes the promise of being present through the Holy Spirit with every believer during good and bad times. Therefore, believers can be assured of God’s very present help in times of need (Psalm 46:1).
- Without the express permission of God, one could be so close and yet so far. Nothing good or bad can happen unless it is permitted by God. One can be so close to a windfall, but still loses it if God’s blessing is not in it. One can encounter multiple perils and near death experiences but never gotten a scratch because God does not permit it. Saul was so close to apprehending David, but was forced to return to defend a Philistine raid. Therefore, believers must not be anxious in times of peril for all things are predetermined by God for their good. Paul says,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
- If a leader rules by fear, loyalty is contingent on the leader’s possession of political power. We see in political scenes, politicians hanging onto power for the sole purpose of self-preservation. We see mass defections and politicians at the mercy of their rivals when they lose their power. The men of Keilah and Ziph ingratiate themselves to Saul because he rules by fear and violence. Such kind of loyalty is flitting, deceptive and is contingent on the possession of political power. Thus, we see defections from the camp of Saul to David as the story develops (see 1 Chronicles 12:19). If a leader rules by truth, those who are of the truth will remain loyal regardless; their loyalty is not contingent on their personal benefit, or the leader’s political clout but on the truth. Jonathan’s loyalty towards David is a case in point. So long as the truth is upheld in an organization’s culture and vision, people who are of the truth will stay loyal to help the organization ride through perilous times.
- What is occupying your mind most of the time? Is it a nagging problem that you have no control over? It is time for you to stop thinking of the problem and focus on God’s promises. Start by conversing with God and being totally transparent with Him concerning your fears. You will sense the peace and assurance of Spirit coming gently upon you. Do not lose it but stay connected and focused on the word of promise and let His peace and wisdom direct your path one day at a time.
- Are you prone to giving snappy solutions rather than spending time listening and understanding people? Many do not realize that empathy and personal presence is actually the solution to many people’s problems. People have no lack of solutions, but they lack assurance and peace, which only another caring human being can give.
- Do you have a problem of being balanced in your approach to leadership and dealing with people? Do you vacillate between being excessively nice towards people and turning “ugly” when you lose patience? There is only one consistent leadership style when dealing with people; that is to speak the truth in love. “Speaking the truth” means always dealing with even hand, being above board and without compromise. “In love” involves being sensitive to the peculiarities of different people and giving them the space to change and progress.
Dear Lord, help me to dwell on your loving kindness and not on things that I have no control over. Use me to comfort those who are in distress and to point them towards the promises of God. Help me to speak the truth and uphold righteousness in all situations. Give me the wisdom to uplift others in their time of need. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.