1 Samuel 23:14-17 – David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Although Saul hunted David day after day, God didn’t let Saul find him. When David was at Horesh in the wilderness of Ziph, he learned that Saul was coming after him there. Then Jonathan, Saul’s son went to find David at Horesh and strengthened his hand in God. saying, ““Fear not, for the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel, I will stand with you, and Saul my father knows this.”
David likely spent some 5-7 years of his life fleeing from Saul’s murderous jealousy of him. Although some six hundred misfit men eventually joined him in his badlands hideouts–“everyone who was in in trouble, or in debt, and the malcontents” (1 Samuel 22:2), they lived in forced social isolation and loss of their livelihoods. Can we imagine enduring 5-7 years in this pandemic and economic crisis?!
Certainly David grew discouraged. At one especially low point, his closest friend, Jonathan, sought him out and “strengthened his hand in God.” What a beautiful phrase! David’s grip on faith in the Lord was slipping, was weakening. How did Jonathan strengthen it? He simply reminded David of what God had promised. David’s troubles were obscuring his vision, such that he was losing sight of God’s promises to him.
Legitimate encouragement, encouragement with substance, is nothing less than “strengthening the hand of someone in God,” that is, helping someone’s grasp on trusting God in what they are going through. In this effort we can do no better than that which Jonathan did for David–reminding one another of “the great and precious promises” which God has given us in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:4). Our troubles will soon be over, but God’s Word, including His promises, “will stand forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
Whose “hand will you strengthen in God” today by reminding them of what God has promised? Or, whom will you ask to “strengthen your hand in God” today, by reminding you of what God has promised?