At times fear can feel overwhelming but God reminds us that all our fears are dealt with when Jesus died on the cross.
1 Samuel 20:1-23
Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”
2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”
3 But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”
4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”
5 So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. 8 As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”
9 “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?”
10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”
11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together.
12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever.”
‘Fear plays an interesting role in our lives. How dare we let fear motivate us. How dare we let it into our lives, into our relationships,’ James Spader’s character in the hit TV Show The Office remarks in an episode towards the end of the series. He’s right, fear does play an interesting role in our lives but I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing to let it motivate us.
David has a lot of fear within this section of 1 Samuel. Understandably so since the King of Israel has a warrant out to kill him. ‘If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed,’ his wife Michal tells him in 19:11. Beyond fictional superheroes and action figures, there are very few people I know that would stay in a place where they know someone wants to harm them. David uses his fear to motivate him to move away from danger just like any other person would do. In chapter 20, this is where we find David.
After being found by Saul in Naioth at Ramah, David once again moves away from danger. He seeks out Jonathan, Saul’s son, in order to ask for help. ‘What have I done?’ David asks Jonathan in verse 1, ‘What is my crime? How have I wronged your father that he is trying to kill me?’ Jonathan is not so convinced that his father will kill David. So, David devises a plan to test Saul’s desire to kill him.
There are many things that I fear in life. Some more superficial and irrational than others. My deep seeded fear of the ocean will always prevent me scuba diving or watching any episode of David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet. However, these fears ultimately don’t mean anything. I know that I am safe whilst I stand where my feet can touch the ground. I know I am blessed to live in a country where no one is actively trying to harm me and if they do there are strong repercussions.
When my fears take control of me, my fear motivates me to look to Jesus and take comfort in the fact that he was scared too. Jesus knew the day he would be brutally killed would come. He knew people would want to kill him without cause just like Saul wanted to kill David. He asked for the burden to be taken away if it were in God’s will but he knew the greater purpose for his fear. Jesus’ fear motivated him towards the cross just like it should for us.
Head: What role does fear play in your life? Does fear control you or do you try to control it?
Heart: How can you use your fears to motivate you towards the cross?
Hands: In what ways can you encourage others towards God that might have a lot of fear in their hearts?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for Jesus’ demonstration of fear. Thank you that he died on the cross for us so that our fears no longer control us. Please help us use our fears to push us towards the love and security of death and resurrection. Amen.
A song to listen to: I Have a Shelter