“The Road to Bethlehem” Advent devotion for December 9, 2021. Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash
David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ (1 Samuel 20:6)
So Jonathan, King Saul’s son, will tell his father that David is on the road to Bethlehem. King Saul does not like being in the shadow of David’s successful campaigns against the Philistines. He has thrown his spear at David at least three times to pin him to the wall. David knows he’ll be missed at Saul’s table, but he’s got a bull’s eye on his back. He’s got no choice. He’s got to run and hide.
Jesus had a similar experience. His birth in Bethlehem caught the attention of King Herod, who set out to get rid of any contenders to his throne. While all the young boys in Bethlehem were killed, Jesus runs and hides in Egypt with his family until the threat has passed.
Every believer will experience this at some moment. Even though we are the dearly loved children of God there is always someone out to get us. The devil prowls like a lion, looking for an opportunity to pounce on us and fill us with guilt, shame, fear and despair. We want to run and hide like Adam and Eve in the garden.
God always comes looking for us. Like Adam and Eve in the bushes. Or a wandering, lost sheep. Or Peter the guilt-ridden fisherman and would-be disciple. Or Elijah, the exhausted and exasperated prophet.
When he finds us, he takes away our guilt, shame, fear and despair and replaces all that with forgiveness, love and hope. He replaces the lies of the enemy with the truths of Jesus. He turns us around so that we no longer run away, but towards him.
David had to run for a little while. Eventually, as God promised, he assumed the throne. Jesus ran for a little while. Eventually they caught him and crucified him. After his resurrection, he too assumed the throne. We never have to run and hide from our king. His love endures forever!
Sometimes, Lord, I feel like they’re out to get me. But you are the one who has me, and nothing can snatch me from your hand. Thank you for your power, protection and love. Amen.