One Small Step for a Man
(1 Samuel 20:3) And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death. This chapter gives us the stirring account of a friendship and love so deep, so committed and so covenanted that the son of a king would jeopardize his future crown and even his own life for the sake of his friend. Jonathan was David's inside man, and answered to a higher king than Saul, even the King of kings and Lord of lords. For the security of his beloved friend David, Jonathan worked against his own father and king's designs against David. God is able to get spiders into kings' palaces (PRO 30:28), so why should it be thought a thing incredible if He should there plant an ally of the righteous? Let us bless God for the likes of a Joseph in Pharaoh's court (GEN 45:5-8), a Moses likewise, an Obadiah securing God's prophets under the noses of wicked Ahab and Jezebel (1KI 18:3-4), a Daniel in the royal courts of two empires (DAN 2:49 c/w DAN 6:1-3), or an Esther as queen of the Medo-Persian monarch at a time when wicked Haman sought the destruction of the people of God (EST 4:13-14). Let us bless God and pray that He shall raise similar agents again as needed. His consistency and faithfulness give us hope: "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (MAL 3:6). The potential of imminent consumption was a concern to David so (per our text today), David affirmed to Jonathan "...as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death." Admittedly, that is a very large step with God stepping in, but the sober-minded will pause and consider that the same may be said of our lives in general. There are two great evils which we ought to avoid: living like there is no tomorrow and living like there will always be a tomorrow. The former is the stuff of rank existentialism, of carpe diem hedonism which seizes the day and exploits the flesh's interests to the disregard of the existence of God, a future state or of the resurrection: "...let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die" (1CO 15:32). The latter is the delusion of the boaster who considers not that his days, yea, even his life are vaporous: "Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (JAM 4:13-14). The answer of God to self-indulged and presumptuous fools may be, "...Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided" (LUK 12:20). Therefore, "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (PRO 27:1). As a mercy, God is longsuffering toward His elect, "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2PE 3:9), and so gives a space of repentance (LUK 13:6-9 c/w REV 2:21). But because God's payday for sin is not everyday, because sometimes His "...sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (ECC 8:11). And so fools seize the day with the assumption that there will always be a tomorrow to repent. But tomorrow may not come for such and a hope of an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom (2PE 1:11) may be trumped by a sudden entrance into that kingdom under shame (ACT 5:1-11 c/w 1CO 11:29-30). "And now, little children, abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed at his coming" (1JO 2:28), nor, it would seem, at our leaving. "...TO DAY if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts..." (HEB 3:15); "...behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2CO 6:2).