When the Arrow is Beyond You

Eternal_Life2It is often during dangerous moments in history—when nothing around us seems to make sense—that our faith meets its deepest challenge. That is when each of us must decide: Will I continue to believe, in spite of the peril before me, or will I take things into my own hands in an attempt to secure my own wellbeing?

The Scriptures remind us of the heartache that often results when we decide to take things into our own hands. Think, for example, of when Abraham attempted to protect his own life by telling a foreign king that his wife, Sarah, was his sister (see Genesis 20:2). As a result, Sarah was taken into the kings’ harem, and Abraham was left standing powerlessly outside the gate, wringing his hands in regret over the terrible mistake he had made. Or consider Saul, who was also focused on his own preservation and chose to disobey God’s Word for fear of the people (see 1 Samuel 15:24). As a result, the kingdom was taken from him, and at the end of his life, he ended up consulting with a witch. You and I must be careful not to fall into human reasoning in order to preserve ourselves, for that is what renders us powerless. Let’s look at another example of this in the life of David.


“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 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 throw 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, whether or not we understand what lies ahead. Nevertheless, there is something in all of us that wants to be able to figure everything out. We want a virtual road map that tells us where we will be five years from now. We do not necessarily like God throwing an arrow over our heads into the field and saying, “It is far beyond you. Just
get up and follow where the arrow is leading. Don’t question it, just obey what I am telling you.”

David did head out according to the word given him, but somewhere along the way, he succumbed to his own human reasoning. “David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul (God had never told him that; he was now listening to his own reasoning): there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me anymore in any coast of Israel:
so shall I escape out of his hand” (1 Samuel 27:1).

And so we see David beginning to go off track when he, just as Abraham and Saul, started to focus on his own preservation. This sent David on an arduous journey to the land of the Philistines. At one time in his life, David was on the other side of the valley facing the Philistines, but now he was standing among the enemies of God! I’m sure at that point he could not escape feelings of regret rising in his heart. “What am I doing? How did I get here?”

That is exactly what happens when we as a church begin to focus on ourselves—how to enhance our careers, how to prosper, how to have a better future. Whenever we have an inward focus, it leads us to a place where we are neither furthering the cause of God nor opposing the advance of the enemy. Sadly, this largely describes the church age we are currently living in, particularly in America. Although roughly twenty-two percent of the population in this country consider themselves evangelical, realistically we are not greatly advancing the cause of God, and we certainly are not opposing the advance of the enemy in our generation. We have come to a place of indecision and powerlessness. We are losing our children and our families; losing the concept of what is right and what is wrong—not just in the nation but in the house of God.


However, you and I still have reason to take heart, for there is always a mercy moment. Yes, David left off his wholehearted seeking of God. He abandoned a life of winning
victories and giving glory to the God of Israel. However, in this place of indecision and powerlessness where he ended up, something significant happened. If you can see this, I believe it will help you understand what we are facing as a church in a backsliding nation.
“Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day? (Isn’t it tragic when our enemies can speak well of us?) And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? Should it not be with the heads of these men? Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?” (1 Samuel 29:3–5).

This was the mercy moment in David’s life, and you and I have reached a similar mercy moment in our generation—a point when God causes the enemies of His ways to reject the people of God. It is potentially the best thing that can happen to the church in this age in which we are living. You see, for too long we have ridden with the enemy’s armies, embraced the strategies of a fallen society, and allowed corporate secular thinking to
dominate the Church of Jesus Christ. We have filled stadiums with people who want to know how much they are loved of God yet who have no desire to live any differently from
the people of this world. Just as Achish spoke well of David, for decades society could have rightly testified of Christians, “I find no fault with these people. They have walked with us; their value system is the same as ours. They do what we do, they go where we go, and they are even standing on the same side of this battle that we are on right now.”

However, we are now living in a moment when the mercy of God is going to cause society to spit the Church of Jesus Christ out of its mouth. I thank God that our society is finally declaring, “Away with Christ! Away with Christians, away with churches, away with tax-exempt status—away with all of it!” Finally God’s people are being forced out of the enemy’s territory, just as David was. Rejected by the Philistines, David and the other Israelites who were with him returned home to Ziklag, only to find that the Amalekites had burned everything to the ground and taken captive their women and children. When David saw how much he had surrendered to the enemy, in his heart he must have initially thought, “Look what I have done! I am supposed to be leading these men, but I have allowed their families to be brought into captivity.”

Nevertheless, David did not allow himself to be overcome with discouragement and shame. Instead, he did something that ultimately restored his strength: He turned back to prayer and seeking God. “And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod (the garment of prayer for seeking God). And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David” (1 Samuel 30:7).

David must have suddenly remembered the moment when he was singled out among his brothers to become king over Israel. Or perhaps he recalled when the bear and the lion came into the flock, and the Spirit of God came upon him, endowing him with supernatural strength. Or maybe he remembered the indignation rising within his heart as God’s name was being defied, and he fearlessly ran into the valley to fight Goliath. So David turned to Abiathar and said, “Bring me the ephod! Bring me the garment of prayer! Bring me that which used to govern my life!”


As David began to pray again, God began to speak. “And David inquired at the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? And he answered him,
Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all” (1 Samuel 30:8).

At the time, David had six hundred men with him, but two hundred of them were so weak that they could not even cross over the brook to enter the battle. However, it did not matter how great the odds were against them, for David was back in the place of knowing the source of his strength. He finally acknowledged what he should have understood from
the beginning: David, the arrow is beyond you. The leading of God was not something he could reason. And even in the face of what looked like personal peril, if David would simply
follow the Lord rather than taking things into his own hands, God would continue to guide him one step at a time.

This is what we, too, must do in our generation. We must get back to the source of our strength—back to the prayer closet where we can hear from God again. The first thing that happens when you and I begin to pray is that a promise will come into our hearts—one that is deeper and farther than anything we could ever hope to procure in our own natural ability. The Lord takes us through places we cannot go through on our own—places where we must let go of what we think is going to preserve us and simply follow where He leads.

As David and his men approached the Amalekite armies, they found them “…spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah” (1 Samuel 30:16).

Similarly, you and I are living in an hour when the enemies of God are rejoicing—drinking and dancing in their supposed triumph. “We have come into the sanctuaries; we have taken the houses of God into our possession. Godlessness will be the future for this country. There is very little hope that they will ever rebound and survive!”

However, supernatural strength was granted to David. The Scriptures tell us that he “smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled” (1 Samuel 30:17).

Amazing, isn’t it? Although David and his men were already weary upon entering that battle against perhaps tens of thousands of warriors, God gave them strength to pursue and persevere. It is that incredible ability that God still grants to His people when all hell appears to have the upper hand. The Amalekites thought they had swallowed the testimony of God—which may have been the case if one man had not chosen to go backinto the prayer closet! “And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30:19).

I believe we will find the same to be true for us today as we go back to prayer: All is not lost! No matter what the devil is telling us, no matter what the news reports are saying, no matter what we see with our natural eyes—all is not lost! That is why it is imperative now for you and me to forsake our own human reasoning and return to the place where God can speak to us. Remember, although the arrow is beyond you, it is never beyond the ability of an all-powerful Savior.

Jonathan said, “The arrow is beyond you, make haste—go after it!” In other words, the plan of God is far beyond you, but just get up and follow after it. You do not have to
figure it all out. All that God is asking of you is that you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit
with all your heart, and watch as He does the miraculous!

Carter Conlon
©2014 Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons/24372_sermon-newsletter-20140201-when-the-arrow-is-beyond-you.pdf

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