About DoZ

The Desert of Ziph

I know what you’re thinking.  ‘Desert of Ziph’ is a really obscure name for a blog.  Quite frankly, I agree!  But the heart behind this website has been profoundly influenced by this place to which I have never been.  In this little known spot in the Judean wilderness an encounter took place; an encounter between the unlikeliest of friends.  The friends were David and Jonathan, and the story of their encounter that day in the wilderness has transformed my life and defined a purpose for my existence.

For millennia people have been inspired by the life of David as told in the Bible.  The writer of many of the Psalms, David is known as a worshipper, a shepherd and one of the greatest leaders of the nation of Israel.  He conquered armies.  He slew giants (well, at least one).  He was declared as a man after God’s own heart.

As a young boy, David was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the future King of Israel.  He grew up tending sheep, serving his family faithfully and learning to trust his Lord.  When the time came, he proved his trust as he faced and defeated the Philistine monster Goliath.  David found much favor in the eyes of the people, but that provoked jealousy in the reigning king Saul.  Saul’s resentment consumed him and his attitude toward David was murderous.  Saul tried to kill David on more than one occasion, and when we pick up the story in 1 Samuel 23, David is once again running for his life and is hiding in the wilderness.

What a place to find himself.  David had received the promise that he would be king, but never had it seemed further from possible. He was living in the wilderness with a band of outlaws, and the very man he was to replace hunted him.  Talk about discouragement!

But then something happened.  1 Samuel 23:14-18 tells us that it was at THIS POINT that David’s friend Jonathan (Saul’s son) came out to see David where he was hiding in the desert – the Desert of Ziph. Jonathan met David there and did three things. The first thing he did was help David “find strength in God”. That means David did not currently HAVE strength in God. So Jonathan encouraged him. Jonathan helped give a weary David strength for his journey.  Secondly, and this is key, Jonathan said, “You WILL be king”. (Pretty amazing coming from the man who stood to inherit the throne.) Jonathan was saying to David, “The promise is NOT forgotten. You are NOT finished. God has NOT forsaken you. The promise WILL be fulfilled!” Finally, Jonathan and David made a covenant together, and although the Bible does not specify what that covenant was, it is clear that it was a covenant of relationship; a commitment to walk together.

Do you know what the word ‘ziph’ means?  It means, ‘flowing’.  What an ironic name for a place: The Desert of Flowing.  But that is exactly what that dry wilderness became that day.  In the midst of the hopelessness and despair, life flowed into David’s heart like water into the cracked desert sand.  Courage took root.  In the most life-intimidating environment, vitality awoke and hope was restored.

The landscape of Canada (at least) is littered with people who have stories very similar to David’s.  They have known the hand of God on their life.  They have received His great promises.  They have walked with Him in green pastures.  They have defeated Goliaths.  Yet they have become disillusioned.  By sin, by church abuse or simply by unfulfilled hope they have had their flames reduced to a flicker. People who once were a danger to the kingdom of darkness are now notches on Satan’s belt. I’m sure you can think of a few of these people. Our generation is full of them. The disillusioned have heard the answers. They know the Scriptures. They have heard all the Christian clichés.  None of it seems to help, and they are in desperate need of a Jonathan.

I guess the reason the story of David and Jonathan leapt off the page at me is because it hit so close to home.  I spent years in the desert of lost hope.  I have tasted the bitterness of the slow fade.  But I have also met a Jonathan or two.

For years I wanted to be used of God in ministry. And I won’t lie: I wanted to be the guy up front. I wanted to be the ‘man of faith’ that everybody looks to with wonder and respect. I wanted to be the powerful leader. I wanted to be a David. But I don’t anymore. Now I want to be a Jonathan. I want to find the Davids, and see them set free to be who God made them to be; to realize the dreams that God has put in their hearts, faded as they may be. I want to find those men and women of God who are not living up to what He created them to be, and see them restored and released.

Perhaps you are a David.  If so, I hope you’ll stick around.  If you have the courage, I’d love to hear from you.  I’d love to come out and meet you in your wilderness.  I’d love to walk with you for a little bit and discover with you that life can flow in the strangest of places.



Posted On
Apr 09, 2011
Posted By
Shirley Knapp

Thank God for ‘streams in the desert’.
In Israel, those streams are often underground, but you can find them by the presence of living things nearby.

Posted On
Apr 09, 2011
Posted By
Alain Caron

A great site from a man who lived in the desert of Ziph, found the way out, and left tracks for others to follow. I’m with you Tim!

Posted On
Apr 10, 2011
Posted By
Rae-Lynne Scott

Hey Tim i am so glad you decided to write. I look forward reading what you have to say.
This was on our bullentin today
Be the Best of Whatever You Are
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill
Be a scrub in the valley- but be
The best little scrub by the side of the hill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here.
There’s big work to do and there’s lesser to do,
And the task we must do is the near.
If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail-
Be the best of whatever you are!

Posted On
Apr 17, 2011
Posted By

Thanks for being a Jonathan in our lives.

Posted On
Jun 12, 2011
Posted By
john ziemer

Wow! When i read this i wept. Our last name ‘ziemer’ someway over the years became Ziph .cannot remember when or how ,someone in the family probably knows.At any rate God knows how to get our attention.Anyone who has been made a ‘david by the will of God’ has often wished to just be a regular in the crowd.Unless you have been there you just don’t know the price.How i have longed to see this revelation you have been given to come to God’s children.Thank you son -don’t let go! may He surprise you today…gus

Posted On
Oct 23, 2011
Posted By

Wow, awesome post! You are touching on something people so need to hear today! So many are still walking this walk of hopelessness, loss of direction, and discouragement. The Desert of Ziph…who knew? Love the details you’ve provided. God’s Word is just amazing, isn’t it? You’re such a good writer. I’m really enjoying your articles. Thanks for sharing!!

Posted On
Mar 15, 2013
Posted By

Very cool posts Tim! It’s refreshing to read your honest, encouraging posts and your desire to be a Jonathan for others. Way to go.

Posted On
Apr 19, 2013
Posted By
Lisa Knapp

Tim, you have words of wisdom. You have authority when you speak. You bring clarity. You bring hope. You bring life. Please share what God has given to you. You have something that the world needs. Hope.

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