“And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master” (1 Samuel 20:35-38).
Consider for a moment David’s journey leading up to this difficult point in his life. It must have seemed an ordinary day as he tended his father’s sheep out in the field. All of a sudden he was called inside to meet with the prophet Samuel, who took a vial of oil and anointed David to be the next king of Israel. Before taking the throne, David began to win some marvelous victories in secret, followed by an incredible victory in public against a giant called Goliath. David’s heart must have burned within him as he walked in an anointing that produced such faith and boldness in his life.
Shortly after, Saul took David in as his attendant, and David began to worship the Lord with songs that drove the darkness out of Saul’s life. David continued to fight the battles of the Lord, all the while experiencing the supernatural power of God, as seemingly no enemy could stand against him. Eventually, however, Saul’s heart turned against David for no apparent reason other than envy—which brings us to our passage in 1 Samuel. Saul’s son, Jonathan, says to David, “I am going to talk to my father. Hide out in the field, and I will come back and shoot an arrow. If I say to the lad with me, ‘The arrow is beyond you,’ that means you must flee, for harm is determined against you.”
Here is how I see this situation: God was trying to speak to David, but David was only partially listening. The Lord was telling him, “I have a plan for your life that will fulfill all the desires I have placed in your heart. A transition is coming from a system that failed under Saul’s leadership to something that will usher in a season of renewal in Israel, and you are going to lead it. But until that day comes, I am going to take you through some dark places. You must follow Me through these mountains and valleys—even though you will not be able to understand them fully.”
That is what I believe to be the deeper meaning behind “the arrow is beyond you.” It is a sign and a reminder from God that His ways are higher than ours, and all He asks is that we follow Him!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. A strong, compassionate leader, he is a frequent speaker at the Expect Church Leadership Conferences conducted by World Challenge throughout the world.
At times we must be still and know that He is God. Sometimes the Spirit brings forth sweet, melodic love songs to Jesus. But throughout God’s Word, whenever He brought victory over enemies, the people always lifted up a great shout, a loud noise of praise to the Lord. On the seventh day that Israel marched around Jericho, this commandment circulated: “All the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat” (Joshua 6:5). “And the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat” (Joshua 6:20).
In Ezra we discover that another great shout took place when the temple foundation was laid. “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord . . . they sang together . . . in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord. . . . And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord . . . So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off” (Ezra 3:10-11,13). The Hebrew word used for “shout” here means “split the ears.” The weeping of the Israelites was so joyful and the praises so loud that they “split the ears!” Some people say they can’t stand noise and shouting in church. But hear this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
God wants us to know His Word on this matter. The Psalms command us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. “Noise” in Hebrew, suggests thunder, sparks, fire. “Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands” (Psalm 66:1). “Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1). “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise . . . with trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. . . . Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together” (Psalm 98:4, 6, 8).
God’s people know exceeding great joy whenever the presence of Jesus has been revealed. If we will not shout His praises, the trees will do it for us. At Time Square Church we sing this song: “Lift up your heads, don’t be afraid! Sing till the power of the Lord comes down!” That power is His presence!
“Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance” (Acts 2:28).
Have you ever wondered what Jesus was like day to day—His heart, His attitude? Did He look crushed by all the burdens He carried? Did He weep? Was there a solemn heaviness in His presence?
He did weep, and He did carry heavy burdens. In Gethsemane He sweat drops of blood, and at other times He groaned and sighed over unbelief. But the Word of God makes it clear that Christ was full of joy and gladness.
“For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be [troubled]: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad” (Acts 2:25-26). In speaking this to the Council of the Jews, Peter quoted a prophecy from Psalm 16. It was a vision of Christ, Who would have a rejoicing heart, a tongue speaking gladness and a countenance full of joy because of the presence of His Father.
We are to rejoice, be glad and full of joy for the same reasons Jesus was joyful. The first reason for His joy was that He knew it was impossible for death to hold Him. And so it is for us! This knowledge destroys the wicked doctrine that says Jesus was put into the devil’s hands and had to fight His way out of hell. Jesus knew on earth that death could not hold Him—and so do we!
Second, the Lord is at our right hand in all our troubles. We can rest hopefully and expectantly, knowing He is beside us at all times.
Third, “Thou will not leave my soul in [death]” (verse 27). We will rise to new life in a new body, in a new world.
And last, His very presence floods us with joy! How can we do anything but shout and be glad when we have been delivered from hell, promised eternal life, given His assurance in all troubles here on earth, and have His presence manifested before us?
The apostle Peter was made of flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. Yet he wielded spiritual authority over the devil. He said to the lame man at the temple gate, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6), and the man was healed. The religious leaders of the day recognized this power in Peter and asked him, "By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?" (4:7).
Nowhere does the Bible suggest that this same power isn't meant for us today. When did the Lord ever say to His Church, "I've helped you so far. Now you're on your own"? What kind of God would empower His people in the wilderness when they needed it—would empower Israel's kings, prophets like Elijah, the crowds at Pentecost—and then withhold it from his last-days Church, when we need it more than any generation?
According to Scripture, Satan's power has increased in our day: "The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Revelation 12:12). Why would God permit Satan to attack a weak, powerless church that has no defense? His people have never lost access to His divine power.
Unfortunately, a number of Christians have a skewed idea of spiritual authority. This is especially true in charismatic circles. I know of a series of "power" conventions, where preachers lay hands on people to endow them with an anointing of spiritual authority. Yet, when the recipients return home, their efforts against the devil still fail miserably. They end up asking the same question the disciples asked Jesus: "Why couldn't we cast out these spirits?"
You can't obtain supernatural power simply by having someone lay hands on you. It isn't a gift, it's a way of life, of walking with Jesus. And not everyone who asks for such authority will suddenly be changed into a spiritual powerhouse. The fact is, God entrusts His divine authority only to what Peter calls the "hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible" (1 Peter 3:4).
God forgave David his sin, but look at the blessings David forfeited by falling. Look at what he gave up for his affair with Bathsheba, the hidden cost he paid for detouring from the path God laid before him. “I appointed you king over Israel,” God said to David, “and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more” (2 Samuel 12: 7-8).
God was waiting in the wings with blessings that David hadn’t even imagined, blessings that He longed to shower upon His servant. Blessings that may have been greater than all the things He had ever done for David in the past. Yet because of his sin, David would live and die never knowing what they were. “And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more,” God said.
Nothing pleases God more than showering His children with wonderful blessings. Heaven is filled with glorious mercies just waiting to be released on servants who remain faithful—servants who embrace the covenant that God has created for those who stay true to the will and purpose that He sets before them. And those blessings aren’t reserved just for kings and warriors, but for you and me. For anyone who calls God “Father.”
But how and when those blessings come remains entirely up to us. It is our obedience that releases them from God’s hand and brings them into our lives. We can live in God’s will and experience His mercies each day, or we can walk our own path and forfeit them.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.