David and Jonathan
Perhaps, the most beautiful sub plot in the long story of David is the friendship David had with Jonathan, the son of King Saul.
Jonathan and David were kindred spirits. They were both brave warriors, intent on fighting on behalf of the armies of Israel, something Jonathan also did with honour and success. Following, David coming to Saul with the head of Goliath, we find the two meeting, possibly for the first time, and starting their friendship.
“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants” 1 Samuel 18:1-5
In that short time David was around, near to the presence of Saul, he and Jonathan became firm friends, although one necessary and not sought-after duty for Jonathan was watching David’s back and giving timely warnings, as it became evident Saul’s hatred for him, but all too soon it became necessary for David to flee for his life and after the following further exchanges we have no more record of the two ever meeting again. It is worth noting the covenant the two made based on their friendship and Jonathan’s recognition that David would be king and that he was God’s choice.
“And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city. And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city” 1 Samuel 20:40-42
“And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house” 1 Samuel 23:16-18.
Jonathan was in the delicate position of being loyal to his friend and wanting to honour his father, something he did admirably. He, his brothers and Saul were all to die the same day when fighting the Philistines, which was the event that brought David nearer to taking the throne that God had promised him. We note the deep, heartfelt lament David had concerning Jonathan (and also Saul).
“And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son … I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” 2 Samuel 1:17,25-27
Years later we read of David showing extraordinary kindness of Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan:
“And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? … Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually” 2 Samuel 9:1, 6-7
Our series is about David but it is worth considering Jonathan, which one well known Bible commentator did splendidly in his “Jonathan: The Man Who Would Not Be King” presentation.