To Retreat or Not To Retreat?

MensRetreat

That is indeed the question for this weekend. Another men’s retreat is upon us. The answer to the question for me is a no brainer. Retreat, of course. And not just because my role as pastor requires it. I would like to think I would make our men’s retreat a priority for a variety of reasons.

However, one stands out to me more than others. Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Why invest twenty-four hours with a bunch of brothers from my church? Because isolation makes PC a dull blade. Before I skin a deer in Idaho, I sharpen my knife with a whetstone. Why? The tool works a whole lot better in an otherwise tedious process. The Bible says brothers hanging with brothers doing gospel life and talking gospel things makes men sharp for life. I’m dull enough without skipping a main means God employs for my sharpening.

Charles Bridges, in his classic commentary on the book of Proverbs explains:

ironsharpensiron“Man was framed not for solitude, but for society (Gen. 2:18). It is only as a social being, that his powers and affections are fully expanded. . . . Steel, whetted against a knife, sharpens the edge. So the collision of different minds whets each the edge of the other. . . . In the sympathies of friendship, when the mind is dull, and the countenance overcast, a word from a friend puts an edge upon the blunted energy, and exhilarates the countenance. . . . Gladly let us take up the bond of brotherhood.”

To retreat or not to retreat? How do you answer the question? Say yes this weekend and gladly take up the bond of brotherhood.

Will There Be Knitting at the Men's Retreat?

Not the kind that probably first comes to mind, I can assure you.

But I pray for the kind of knitting of soul between brothers that happened between David and Jonathan in 1 Sam. 18:1-5 immediately after David slew Goliath.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. [2] And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. [3] Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. [4] And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. [5] And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

Look carefully at the terminology in v. 1. The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David. That’s a good translation of the Hebrew word used here. It means literally to tie a knot or make a chain. The same word is used in Gen. 44:30 to describe the relationship between Jacob and his son, Benjamin – his life is bound up in the boy’s life.

This is remarkable! Jonathan, Saul’s firstborn, stands in line to inherit the throne. If ever anyone had reason to be suspicious of the young upstart David and reject him as a consummate threat, it was Jonathan. And yet something of an immediate chemistry with David strikes him resulting in love that binds them soul to soul. The text says, As soon as he had finished speaking, this happened. Jonathan overheard the conversation between his father and the young man at the end of chapter 17. But words on the lips reflect passions, commitments, character traits in the heart. These two ended up with hearts beating hard together. As one hand climbed the cliffs at Michmash and bested a whole garrison proclaiming, Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few ( 1 Sam. 14:6), so the other hurled a stone from a sling felling a giant declaring, The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand (1 Sam. 17:47). Proverbs 27:9 became their reality from that moment on. Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

My point is that this was something special. It was indeed a peculiar, soul-mate kind of affection. It was a gift from God. You don’t get this kind of connection all that frequently. When it comes, treasure it, cultivate it, protect it. It is worth its weight in gold.

It’s the kind of thing that can start when men get together for a weekend to pursue their covenant commitments toward one another on retreat. It’s not too late to sign up. Call the office today and register for some soul knitting.