1 Samuel 23:16 “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God” (NIV).
Observation: Earlier in this chapter David led his band of fighting men to victory over the Philistines at Keilah. Even though he was not yet king of Israel, God nonetheless used him to protect the nation. Immediately afterward, as David sought to hide from Saul’s army in Keilah, the Lord supernaturally told David he was in danger there, that the people would turn him over to the army when Saul arrived. So David left and continued living as a fugitive in the desert.
Application: So much for gratitude. David risked his and his men’s lives in battle to protect Keilah, yet they immediately turned against him under threat of the next perceived danger—besiegement from their own king. It seems they feared an Old Testament version of friendly fire. After this, we read of David’s strenuous efforts to hide in desert caves and behind mountains, constantly under threat of discovery.
Psalm 31 tells us that through it all, David understood that his true hiding place was in God. David might be crouching in a cave in the natural, but he had no vulnerability when God was his true refuge and fortress. “In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; … deliver me in your righteousness” (v. 1). “Come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge” (v. 2). “You are my rock and my fortress” (v. 3). On and on it goes. David knew danger lurked in physical hiding places, but no such vulnerability attended hiding in God. Then we are drawn to the delightful insight of 1 Samuel 23:16, “Saul’s son Jonathan went to David…and helped him find strength in God.”
What an inviting picture of God serving as my refuge. In God’s sovereignty, Jonathan had no trouble finding David. The son of the man investing massive resources in an unsuccessful search for David knew exactly where to go.
See the goodness of God? When I am most fearful, when it seems the enemy’s pursuit has nearly succeeded, God has always been the best hiding place. Sometimes my renewed strength has come in the form of a Jonathan with skin on, while other times it has been the Holy Spirit Himself, whom Jonathan here depicts. But this one thing I know: hiding in Him is always effective. Taking refuge behind any other rock never works. There, my fears will find me; there my insecurities will have their way with my heart. But when I have sought refuge in Him, He always provides Jonathan, the Holy Spirit, to strengthen me.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the picture of Jonathan as the Holy Spirit, able to find and strengthen me no matter the darkness. How I rejoice in Your sweet refuge.