“I will never leave you nor forsake you” most Christians are fond of quoting this verse. In a world where people leave all the time for various reasons, having Someone pledge that they will not leave you is a big deal.
Let’s spend a few minutes unpacking this promise from God.
I Will Never Leave You Meaning
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What does it mean that God will never leave you? In order for us to understand this promise, we have to go back to where it was first made.
The promise first appeared in Genesis 28:15,
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (ESV).
Jacob and his mother Rebekah had concocted and successfully executed a plan to rob Esau of his father’s blessing. When Rebekah realized that her older son was angry and was planning to kill his twin, Jacob, she came up with a plan to send him away to her relatives for protection.
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Jacob at 40, leaves home to go live with his uncle, Laban. While he was en route, he spent the night at a place he would later call Bethel (Genesis 28:19).
Then God promised to be with Jacob wherever he went,
Jacob had a dream that night. One in which the angels were climbing up and climbing down. But the best part of the dream was that God was standing at the top of the ladder. God introduced Himself to Jacob and renewed the Abrahamic covenant with him.
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. Genesis 28:15 KJV
The conditions under which this promise was made say a lot about God.
Here was a man who had cheated his brother out of a blessing and an inheritance and was basically on the run for his life. Yet, it was to this man that God renewed His covenant.
God calls us to a life of obedience and faithfulness. But this promise made to Jacob is a reminder that God is faithful even when we’re not.
What Does the Bible Say About “I Will Never Leave You”?
God is always reassuring His people of His presence. He reminds us that He will never leave us or forsake us when we have a new challenge ahead.
Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 ESV
No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:5 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 ESV
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 ESV
God reassures us of His presence when we go to face our enemies. His words are a reminder that we don’t fight the battle alone.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV
His promise to always be with us is used by the children of God to comfort and encourage each other.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV
Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished. 1 Chronicles 28:20 ESV
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
What does Hebrews 13 5 say?
The concluding sentiment to the Hebrews included these words,
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV
These words are an admonition to the reader to live in such a way that they give glory to God. They should not be greedy but should instead learn to be content with whatever they have in the present.
They can choose to live in this manner because God has given them the assurance that He will not leave them alone or abandon them in a situation where they feel helpless.
Instead, the writer of Hebrews continues, we can say with confidence and great boldness,
“The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
God Will Never Leave You: Deuteronomy 31 6
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
These words were originally spoken to the Israelites by Moses in his final speech to them. The Israelites were on the verge of entering the promised land and had many enemies to face.
Moses reminded them the God would go with them and would not abandon them. This promise is one that has been repeated several times throughout Scripture and is one you and I can claim today.
Be strong and courageous.
God knew that to survive in the world after the fall people would require a great deal of strength. We would experience great trouble and suffering and so we need the ability to bear it.
I find it necessary to define the words “strong” and “courage” for us to get the true meaning of the verse.
Strong, according to the online dictionary, means “being able to withstand great force or pressure.”
Brave, from the same source, is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one or strength in the face of pain or grief.”
God tells us to be strong. Have courage. Life on earth requires it. We have an enemy who lives to make our lives miserable but God made us resilient and He made us strong.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them…
In the context of the verse, Moses was encouraging the people not to be afraid of the nations in Canaan.
Today God is telling us that we will face many difficulties, there will be people set in our path by the enemy to distract and dismay. A lot of time these people will more powerful or physically stronger than we are.
But God encourages us not to be afraid of them. Fear did not originate with God. Fear is a consequence of sin.
… for the Lord your God goes with you
Here’s the best part: God goes with us. Have you ever had those moments when you feel like you’re all alone? You feel as though nobody could possibly understand how you’re feeling.
And then God shows up.
He reminds you that He’s always there with you – He opens your eyes to the beauty of a flower, a sunset. he tunes your ear to appreciate the beauty of a child’s laugh. We are reminded that there is no place we can go that is outside the presence of God.
… He will never leave you nor forsake you.
The God that we serve is all-mighty and ever-present. I don’t know how He does it. I don’t understand how He can be with me and with you and with everyone else all at the same time. But.
I know it to be true. I have felt His presence even while I see Him working in someone else’s life. And the fact that He can do that – Completely. Blows. My. Mind.
That’s why I believe Him. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or what we’ve done, He offers grace. Grace enough to cover our sins.
He offers love. Love enough to forgive us when we’ve done the ‘unforgivable’ – that thing that makes us feel dirty and ashamed.
God Will Never Leave Nor Forsake You
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Fewer words in the English language have the power to evoke such comfort and hope in the Christian heart as these.
We live in a world where people leave. Sometimes they leave us when they die and sometimes they choose to go. In most cases, we’re not ready for them to leave… So we feel abandoned and neglected and dejected when they do.
And that’s why this promise is so meaningful…it represents all the forces of heaven and our omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient God pledging to remain with us in spite of our circumstances.
Personal Bible Study
Read Deuteronomy 31.
- What were the conditions that had to be met to claim the promise?
- How are those conditions still valid today?
- Ask God to help you fulfill the conditions that you fall short on so that you can claim His promise.
- Re-write the verse with your name in it. Keep it somewhere that you can refer to it whenever you’re feeling alone.