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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Seeing the Forest

or just the trees?

1 Samuel 20:35–42

And so it was, in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad was with him. Then he said to his lad, “Now run, find the arrows which I shoot.” As the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. When the lad had come to the place where the arrow was which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried out after the lad and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” And Jonathan cried out after the lad, “Make haste, hurry, do not delay!” So Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows and came back to his master. But the lad did not know anything. Only Jonathan and David knew of the matter. Then Jonathan gave his weapons to his lad, and said to him, “Go, carry them to the city.”

As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’ ” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

The passage makes a point of mentioning that David wept more than Jonathan. Why? Why did David weep more, and why did the passage take pains to point it out?

David didn’t just learn anything; he knew it all along. Plus, he’s going to be king someday and he’s confident that nothing can stop that from happening.

Meanwhile, Jonathan is only now coming to grips with the horrible truth about his father. Relationships all around him are being reduced to ashes. He’ll have to work hard to repair his relationship with his father. Even then, the repair will likely only be superficial. How could Jonathan not weep?

But David’s weeping is greater because he isn’t weeping for himself; he’s weeping for Jonathan. David has had time to process the truth, plus he’s looking at events inside Saul’s family from a distance. He’s seeing the forest, while Jonathan is only just now seeing the trees.

David sees a much larger and more tragic problem, and his best friend is stuck in the middle of it.

Remind you of anything?

Jesus wept. — John 11:35

Why is Jesus weeping, and why does John point this out? Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from the dead. There’s nothing to cry about, right?

Au contraire. Jesus sees the real tragedy. He sees the tragedy of death itself and the sin that gave rise to it. The magnitude of the resulting sorrow is beyond our comprehension. Jesus might also be thinking about the task in front of him to fix all that. We don’t know which things he’s crying about, maybe all of them.

By mention Jesus’s weeping, John confronts us with the real tragedy. Samuel does the same thing.

To forward this devotional, see the link in green below.

These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to the DEEP click here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, can be downloaded here:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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