Learning to become MEN - Experiencing David’s Challenges

1 Samuel 20:35-43

An Archery lesson: David becomes a man (35-43)
David and Jonathan agreed previously about a secret sign for communication. The sign had to do with archery. The narrator describes it best:
“I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target. And behold, I will send the youth, saying, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I specifically say to the youth, 'Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,' then come; for there is safety for you and no harm, as the LORD lives. But if I say to the youth, 'Behold, the arrows are beyond you,' go, for the LORD has sent you away…” (18-23)

In Hebrew the verb to shoot and the verb to teach are the same (yara). The noun form of it is the famous word Torah, (the first five books of the bible). For the Hebrews, teaching is not just a random act; it is “shooting” the arrows to the target, penetrating deep inside. Teaching should have direction. Jonathan plays a major role to help David to learn and grow and become a man.

Jonathan did exactly what it was agreed upon (35-43)
Jonathan shot the arrows as David was hiding and listening. Then Jonathan talked to the youth (in reality to David) and said,
“Is not the arrow beyond you?” And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” (37b-38)
How difficult was it for Jonathan to say to his best friend “Hurry up, go, go quickly. Do not come back. Go to the wilderness. Go and hide. I am shooting the arrows, I am teaching you, telling you, guiding you…go, go do not look back.”
He appeared to be shouting to the young boy, but he is actually talking to David. He is saying farewell to David and welcoming the arrival of maturity, of manhood.(both are maturing)
Let the Lord be with both of us. They cried and kissed each other. And they departed from each other in God’s peace and presence.

What can we learn?

1. Maturity demands loyalty
Both David and Jonathan did not compromise their faith in God and their commitment to each other. This is maturity.
• Christ taught us to be loyal to the Christ who was crucified for our sins.
• Each of us should carry the cross and follow Him.
• Our faith is tested daily. Temptations are surrounding us. Only when we have faith in Christ we can face them. Only when Christ is our Lord and King we can learn to be loyal to each other and to God.
-This last week I found in you maturity in facing crises. Yes we went through the crisis of fighting against cancer. Some of you were prayer warriors. Some of you reached out to the practical needs of the family. Some of you called me and said they were available. This is loyalty to Christ and to each other. Some think that our church is not spiritual enough. They leave us and go to other churches. I hope they make a commitment to Christ and also show loyalty to the “church family” wherever they are.
Attending church is not just receiving teachings, it is becoming part of the body of Christ. I believe in loyalty in our relationships. Jonathan and David taught us that.

2. Maturity means truth before peace.
Jonathan stood up for the truth even against his own father.
David stood up for the truth and did not compromise in choosing the easy way out. He did quit nor became a slave of Saul.
Of course peaceful relationships are commendable. Yet, when truth is sacrificed and not revealed, the “peaceful” relationships are not reliable; they are fake.
James says: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.” (James 3:17)
In Armenian it says: Holy, Honest, true, pure…..
First truth then peace; we like the other way around.

Even Jesus said:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword….Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,” (Matthew 10:34)
Your relationships will not always be smooth. Jonathan’s relationship with his father did not go in peace. Truth was more important than unreliable peace.
Watch out here, we should be careful how we speak truth:
Paul says:
“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him …” (Eph 4:15)
Let me add here, for me the ultimate truth is Jesus Christ, when we have him in our lives, peace that God can give only through Him will be in us.
Both David and Jonathan learned to be mature and they faced truth with courage.

3. Maturity means you allow the “beloved” to go
How tough was it for Jonathan to allow his best friend to go.
How tough was it for David to say good bye to his friend. He wept.
I have been in the ministry for 25 years. I have many pictures of brothers and sisters from different places of the world. It was very difficult to say good bye to them. We learned to be men when we allowed each other go to different ministries.

4. Maturity means finding God in our lives
What were their final words to each other?
“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.’”(42)
“Finding God, seeking His face, seeking His presence, dwelling in His house” those were the words David learned and wrote. He went to the wilderness. What is in wilderness?
Nothing, it is desert. But right there the Lord was with him.


Rev. Nerses Balabanian,
Calvary Armenian Congregational Church, San Francisco