Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God (1 Samuel 23:16).
Jonathan was King Saul’s son – If anything would have stopped him from going to encourage David, this would be it. King Saul, at this point in his life, was laser focused on eliminating David from the earth. Saul had already tried to kill Jonathan, his own son, because Jonathan stood up for David. However, Jonathan loved God more than he loved his own father, and he also loved his great friend David. Most folks would not have faulted Jonathan for staying at home, but Jonathan knew that the right thing to do was not the safest thing to do. Jonathan knew that David was going through a terrible ordeal and that he needed to be lifted up by God’s strength.
He arose and went – He got up and did something. He did not wait for David to come to him. He knew David’s situation, and he actively sought to do whatever he could to ease David’s burden. In this case, what David needed was encouragement, prayer and companionship.
Look at the following passage from Paul and what he said about the encouragement he received in Rome from Onesiphorus.
The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me–the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day–and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
Do you see what both Jonathan and Onesiphorus both did? They sought out someone to encourage. On both of their parts, this took a lot of effort and time to even get to the person they were trying to encourage. Think about that. They had to set out. They had to travel. They had to search. Encouragement can be a simple text, or a quick call, but other times it may require a great deal of our energy and resources to provide strength and aid to our brethren who need it.
Strengthened his hand in God – We have no further information here other than Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God. What does that mean? How did Jonathan do that? Most likely they prayed together. Considering the other discussions they had with each other in 1 Samuel, we can make a safe assumption that Jonathan reminded David of the promises of God. It may be that Jonathan just listened while David poured out his heart.
How can you strengthen a brother’s hand in God? Maybe you can call him up and invite him to do something with you (a hobby, a sport, etc.) and use it as an opportunity to talk. You could send a note with a key Scripture or two in the mail. You could drive over to his house and sit and pray with him. Meet him for lunch and talk (make sure you listen more than you talk). It might be that you know your brother is struggling with health issues and you go over and take care of some of his chores that he cannot do. Or it could be that you find out he is dealing with financial need and you take care of some of his bills. I can tell you from someone who has been on the receiving end of that kind of encouragement, that it means the world to me and puts wind in my sails.
May we all be a Jonathan to someone today.
Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13).
For extra encouragement this weekend, please listen to this sermon by Andy Cantrell on the “Proof of Love.”