“I Will Not Leave You Nor Forsake You”

Posted on September 19, 2019


By David Ettinger

A Hostile Place
The world is becoming ever more hostile for Christians.

For decades in the West, our deeply held values have been mocked, assaulted, and dismissed. We have come to expect ridicule, but the stakes are getting higher as the secular world looks to criminalize our ethics. Expressing our beliefs either is, or is on the way to, becoming illegal.

In oppressed nations, Christians are beaten, imprisoned, and executed for their faith. In the West, Christian-restrictive government legislation could lead to fines, firings, closure of businesses, and perhaps imprisonment for Christian “offenders.”

As each day brings new attacks on our beliefs, it seems as if God is aloof. We want to ask Him, “God, are You seeing what is happening here? Do You notice? Do You care?” Of course we know the answer to these questions, but we are frustrated nonetheless.

Marvelous Assurance
God does indeed care. In fact, He knew it was coming, warned us about it, and told us He would be in the midst of our trials. Jesus said: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

So yes, there will be tribulation, but God is bigger than our tribulations. However, this is not God’s only word of encouragement. He knows that when we are in the midst of our trials, we need Him desperately. Therefore He gives His children this marvelous assurance: “I will not leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”  

The Word “Leave”
Let’s look at the various meanings of the Hebrew words for “leave” and “forsake.”

There are two Hebrew words for “leave.” One is raphak, which means “fail,” “loosen the grasp,” or “drop.” The second is itsh, which carries the idea of being “abandoned” or “rejected.” Therefore, we can translate this verse in several ways:

  • “I will not fail you.”
  • “I will not loosen my grasp on you.”
  • “I will not drop you.”
  • “I will not abandon you.”
  • “I will not reject you.”

What assurance!

The Word “Forsake”
Turning to the word “forsake,” here, also, two Hebrew terms are used. The first, azab, can also be translated as “to depart,” “leave behind,” “let loose,” or “set free.” The second word is natash, which means “to cast off.”

Therefore, we can translate the second part of the great promise this way:

  • “I will not leave you nor depart from you.”
  • “I will not leave you nor leave you behind.”
  • “I will not leave you nor let you loose.”
  • “I will not leave you nor set you free (as in to rid Himself of you).”
  • “I will not leave you nor cast you off.”

Even more assurance!

A Marvelous Assurance to Cling To
God is all we need, and to make sure we know this, He gives us a wondrous promise we can hold on to for the rest of our lives: “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” God will never fail you, loosen His grasp on you, drop you, abandon you, reject you, depart from you, leave you behind, let you loose, set you free, nor cast you off.

As we move closer to the end of the age and experience increased opposition, Christians must cling to this marvelous assurance and never let go!