Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape (1 SA 23.26-28).
In the above passage, things aren’t looking good for David and his ragged band. Saul and his army are in hot pursuit, and this isn’t laser tag. David had eluded Saul’s spear in the past, when the deranged king tried to pin him to a wall, but this time Saul is determined not to miss. David tries to put a mountain between himself and his pursuer, but Saul divides his force into two flanks that make their way around both sides of the mountain to encircle David (ESV Study Bible notes). Saul is tightening the noose, and David’s only option will be to flee east into open country toward the Dead Sea – open country that means certain capture. David is out of options.
Saul is gleefully rubbing his hands together anticipating his certain victory, when he hears the hoofbeats of a messenger riding into the camp. The Philistines have raided the land. Cursing, Saul hurls his spear to the ground. He’ll have to tend to this invasion. Once again, David has eluded him.
God rescued David “as Saul and his men were closing in” – in the nick of time.
While David was hotfooting it around the mountain, God was stirring up the Philistines to attack the land. While David was scanning the horizon in vain for an escape route, God had an escape already worked out.
“While we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly” (RO 5.6).
When God’s wrath was bearing down and closing in on us, Jesus stepped in and took it in our place. In the nick of time, Christ became the lightning rod that absorbed the judgment of God that was bearing down on us.
And God in his providence continues to meet our needs in the nick of time all our days. When Corrie Ten Boom was a little girl, she and her father were waiting for a train and she asked him for her ticket. But he told her he would give her the ticket just before they boarded the train, not a minute sooner. That’s how the Lord works. He gives us strength right when we need it, not a moment sooner. He gives us wisdom, grace, and provision in his perfect timing.
Jesus has a perfect timing for everything in your life. He’ll give you your ticket just before you board the train. In the meantime, keep praying, trusting, and thanking him for the grace to come.
photo by *Cati Kaoe*