1 Samuel 23:16
And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
Two lessons stand out in this chapter. First, that the most heroic heart may sometimes be overcome with fear. Few men had a more intrepid soul than the conqueror of Goliath; yet now he was driven by fear of Saul into the wood. We are subject to variations of mood. Secondly, that the crimes of a father may alienate the hearts of his children. Jonathan the son of Saul was now succouring the man whom his own sire hated, and sought to destroy. Evil, even in a parent, cannot be loved, nor wrong in a parent obeyed.
I. THE DEEP DEPRESSION OF A TRUE SOUL. Few men ever had a truer soul than David — clear in its perceptions of truth, strong in its attachments to truth, inflexible in its allegiance to truth. But that soul, in the "wood" here, is under depression. Several things tend to depress the true spirit in this world.
1. Seemingly adverse circumstances. Jacob: "All these things are against, me."
2. Providential discrepancies. Job, Aspah. "My foot had well nigh slipped."
3. Non-success in religious service.
4. Consciousness of moral unworthiness.
5. Physical infirmities.
II. THE DISTINGUISHING POWER OF A TRUE MAN. What is the distinguishing power which a true man has? To destroy life! Brutes can do this. To weaken faith, and shake confidence? A child can do this. What then? To strengthen a brother's heart in God! This is what Jonathan did now in "the wood." But how can a true man strengthen a depressed brother thus?
1. By a truthful exposition of God's method of governing the fallen in this world. The Gospel unfolds that method; shows that it is to the true corrective, not penal.
2. By a practical expression of genuine sympathy. One breath of it infuses new life to the soul.
3. By a devout intercession with Heaven.
III. THE HIGHEST FUNCTION OF A TRUE FRIEND. It is one thing to have the power to strengthen, and another thing to use it when and where required.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.