God-Hearted #6 — 1 Samuel 20 — Preparation Of The God-Heart— Into The Undesirable

Theme: God would go with David, allow David to be stripped of everything, and invite David to move forward, all of which would prepare David — just as they prepare us — for deeper maturity, the kind which chooses the pain.

1 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” 2 And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” 3 But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” 4 Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” 5 David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. 6 If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. 8 Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” 9 And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?”

10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” 11 And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field. 12 And Jonathan said to David, “The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13 But should it please my father to do you harm, the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father. 14 If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; 15 and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David’s enemies.” 17 And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap. 20 And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. 21 And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the LORD lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the LORD has sent you away. 23 And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever.” 24 So David hid himself in the field. And when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food.

25 The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. 26 Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” 27 But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David’s place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28 Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.” 30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. 36 And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” 38 And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan’s boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39 But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40 And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” 41 And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’ ” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.


  • In our story today, David lacks control:
    • 1 After Naioth, with Saul still in a prophetic stupor, David ran to Jonathan. David wondered if he was guilty of some crime which justified Saul in wanting to take his life.
    • 2 Jonathan assured David he would know if that were the case.
    • 3 David assured Jonathan there was only a step between him and death.
    • 4-11 David asks Jonathan to dismiss him to Bethlehem for the new moon feast and then gauge Saul’s response to his absence.
    • 12-17 Jonathan made David reaffirm their covenant.
      • This covenant was significant after Jonathan’s death; David showed kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9).
    • 18-23 Jonathan made a plan.
      • 21 As the LORD lives, it is safe for you: Arrows behind the youth.
      • 22 The LORD has sent you away: Arrows beyond the youth.
    • 24-34 Jonathan goes to the feast with his father.
      • Day 1: Saul said nothing, suspecting David unclean.
      • Day 2: Saul asked Jonathan, flying into rage when discovering Jonathan had chosen David.
        • This angered Jonathan.
    • 35-42 In the morning, Jonathan went to the field with his young servant, shooting the arrows beyond.
      • He dismissed the boy.
      • David appeared from behind the stone heap.
      • They wept, David weeping the most.
      • David departed (they would see one another only once more).
  • The entire story centers around a stone heap (19, 41 ESV), also known as The rock Ezel (HCSB, NASB, NIV, NKJV).
    • Literally: the rock of departure (for David).

1 God Goes Into The Undesirable With Us

  • The thing David feared, the thing he would not have chosen, is the thing which unfolded.
    • His entire life was about to drastically change.
    • But God would go with him!
    • These would become some of the most meaningful years of David’s life.
  • The gospel: Since God went for into the fire for us, He will certainly go into the fire with us.
    • Jesus:
      • Physical pain
      • Psychological pain — bearing sin
      • Abandonment pain
      • Wrath of God pain
  • God goes into the fire with us.
      • Isaiah 43:2 (ESV) — 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

2 God Uses The Undesirable To Eliminate Other Dependencies

  • David had to cling to God alone.
    • Remember, David could see the logical pathway to God’s promises. He could see the throne. Married to the princess, best friends with the prince, and servant to the king, David could see the route to becoming king.
    • But this event drove him away from all that. As it did, David learned he needed God alone. His dependence upon everything and everyone else decreased.
    • Listen to his songs:
      • Psalm 62:1–2 (ESV) — 1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
      • Psalm 23:1 (ESV) — 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  • God will use the fire of pain to burn away our dependence upon anything and everyone else.
    • Peter, writing to a scattered and persecuted church:
      • 1 Peter 1:6–7 (ESV) — 6 …you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
    • The woman at the well:
      • John 4:13–14 (ESV) — 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  • Some of the dependencies He burns off are sins.
    • David was not a perfect man. Even in this fire he would sin. But in the fire of this affliction did purify his heart.
    • Isaiah 48:10 (ESV) — 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
    • Sin must be replaced with steadfastness:
      • Let the fires have their full effect: James 1:2–4 (ESV) — 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
      • Why is this brand of steadfastness so desirable?
        • Everything in life works better with it: marriage, ministry, business, a commute.
      • Faith lets trials work out its full effect.
        • Unruly child (parent), financial pressure (money), crazy boss (leadership), cancer (compassion), parental marriage failure (marriage).

3 God Invites Us To Move Into The Undesirable

  • David had only one way to go — forward.
    • He could not remain at the rock.
  • God invites us to move into and beyond the fire.
    • The cross was meant to stop things, but it propelled things.
      • Scare, but it emboldened.
      • Stop the offensive message, but it created one.
      • Silence grace, but it released grace.
      • Keep Christ’s message from our ears, but put it in our hearts.
      • Destroy a movement, but caused one.
      • Stop God, but it enabled God.
      • Produce shame, but brought glory.
      • Cause pain, but it removes pain.
      • Wound, but it heals.
      • Condemn, but it releases forgiveness.
      • Lead to corruption and death, but it leads to everlasting life and glory.
    • The enemy wishes to use our pains to stop us, but God wants to use them to propel us. But we must keep moving!
      • Luke 9:62 (ESV) — 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

4 God Enables Us To Choose The Undesirable

  • As king, David would have to choose the hard thing, rather than have the hard thing chosen for him, many times.
  • Advanced degree of difficulty.
    • Hebrews 11:24–25 (ESV) — 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
  • But this is the building material and army Christ wants.
    • Luke 14:25–33 (ESV) — 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
    • 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
    • 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.