THE MPN HOME PAGE

INDEX PAGE for all MPN Character Bible Studies

Jonathan Part 2

INTRODUCTION: Jonathan remained loyal to his father, while at the same time always defending David in every way he could, when Saul wanted David to be killed. Jonathan and David made a covenant together regarding care for each other’s family in the uncertain circumstances of their future.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American KJV.

A - DAVID APPEALED TO JONATHAN ABOUT THE THREAT ON HIS LIFE

1Samuel 20 "11 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is my iniquity? and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life? 2 And he said to him, God forbid; you shall not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will show it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so. 3 And David swore moreover, and said, Your father certainly knows that I have found grace in your eyes; and he said, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death. 4 Then said Jonathan to David, Whatever your soul desires, I will even do it for you. 5 And David said to Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field to the third day at even. 6 If your father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family. 7 If he say thus, It is well; your servant shall have peace: but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him. 8 Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant; for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me yourself; for why should you bring me to your father? 9 And Jonathan said, Far be it from you: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come on you, then would not I tell it you? 10 Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if your father answer you roughly? 11 And Jonathan said to David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field. 12 And Jonathan said to David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not to you, and show it you; 13 The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do you evil, then I will show it you, and send you away, that you may go in peace: and the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father. 14 And you shall not only while yet I live show me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not: 15 But also you shall not cut off your kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD has cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. 16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies. 17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul."

COMMENTS: David went privately to Jonathan and asked what he had done that his father was again trying to kill him. Jonathan was surprised and told David this was not so, because his father always told him his plans, and why would this be hidden from him? David swore that it was true, and said his father knew that he would be grieved if he knew about it because of the strong bond between the two of them; but now David was even closer to being killed then he had been before. Jonathan told David he would do whatever David desired, and David gave him an answer to use if his father asked why David was not at the upcoming new moon meal. If the answer was calmly accepted, then David would believe things would be alright. But if King Saul was filled with wrath, then Jonathan would know his father's evil intentions toward David were firmly fixed.

David honored the son of the king as he referred to himself twice as Jonathan's servant, and he says that Jonathan would surely show him kindness because he had brought David into a covenant of the LORD. Then David said if the iniquity was in himself, Jonathan should go ahead and slay him rather than take him to his father which Jonathan rejected. Jonathan then set up details of how they would cautiously get back together the third day after the new moon meal. Jonathan pledged before the LORD that he would not fail to contact David if there was no threat from his father. But, if he needed to report his father's determination to kill David, then he would definitely tell him and send him away. David should then go in peace and that the LORD would be with him as he has been with Jonathan's father. They renewed their covenant for care of their respective families through whatever future circumstances. This was especially emphasized by Jonathan as he loved David as he loved his own soul, and believed the LORD would protect David.


B - JONATHAN DESCRIBED A SIMPLE PLAN TO MEET AFTER THE NEW MOON OBSERVANCE

1Samuel 20 "18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and you shall be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 And when you have stayed three days, then you shall go down quickly, and come to the place where you did hide yourself when the business was in hand, and shall remain by the stone Ezel. 20 And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark. 21 And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say to the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, take them; then come you: for there is peace to you, and no hurt; as the LORD lives. 22 But if I say thus to the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond you; go your way: for the LORD has sent you away. 23 And as touching the matter which you and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD be between you and me for ever."

COMMENTS: This plan would allow David to be ready to safely have the initial contact with Jonathan after the three day period without exposing himself to any danger. Jonathan reminded David that the covenant between them would remain forever. Jonathan did not specifically say that he would try to see David in person before David fled, if the signal with the arrows meant David would not ever be able to safely return to King Saul.


C - THE ANGER OF SAUL BOILED OVER AT HIS SON JONATHAN

1Samuel 20 "24 So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat. 25 And the king sat on his seat, as at other times, even on a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty. 26 Nevertheless Saul spoke not any thing that day: for he thought, Something has befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean. 27 And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said to Jonathan his son, Why comes not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day? 28 And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem: 29 And he said, Let me go, I pray you; for our family has a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he has commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away, I pray you, and see my brothers. Therefore he comes not to the king's table. 30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, You son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own confusion, and to the confusion of your mother's nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the ground, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Why now send and fetch him to me, for he shall surely die. 32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, Why shall he be slain? what has he done? 33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David. 34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame."

COMMENTS: On the first day Saul did not say anything about the absence of David, because he thought perhaps David was not ceremonially clean. But on the next day he began to raise questions to Jonathan as to why David was absent two days in a row. Jonathan said David had earnestly requested to be with his family as he was commanded by his brother to attend a sacrifice in their city; and Jonathan said he had granted him leave to go, and that was why he was not at the king's table. Saul was immediately furious and spoke in a very coarse and insulting manner to Jonathan. He told Jonathan by protecting David he was abandoning his own family line, and as long as David was alive, Jonathan or his kingdom would not be established. When Jonathan quickly defended David again when he was told David was to be brought to Saul to be killed, his father threw a javelin at Jonathan to kill him. Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat any of the ceremonial food that day, as he was convinced his father would not change from the shameful intentions against David. He had no threatening reaction from any of the men under the command of the king before he left, including none from Saul's top commander, Abner.


D - THE ANTICIPATED FINAL PARTING BETWEEN JONATHAN AND DAVID

1 Samuel 20 "35 And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. 36 And he said to his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond you? 38 And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master. 39 But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40 And Jonathan gave his artillery to his lad, and said to him, Go, carry them to the city. 41 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. 42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, for as much as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and you, and between my seed and your seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city."

COMMENTS: In the morning Jonathan kept his arranged time to let David know the outcome of David's absence from the ceremonial new moon period with King Saul. When the lad was gone from Jonathan, David came out and greeted Jonathan, the son of the king, in a highly respectful manner as he bowed three times. Then they warmly exchanged emotional greeting and cried together, with David being overcome by tears in what they thought would be their final meeting. Jonathan then told David to Go in peace, for as much as they had sworn both of them in the name of the LORD that He would be between them, and between the seed of each other forever. David arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.


E - JONATHAN FOUND DAVID AGAIN TO STRENGTHEN THEIR BOND IN THE LORD

1 Samuel 23 "14 And David stayed in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. 15 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood. 16 And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you; and you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you; and that also Saul my father knows. 18 And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David stayed in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house."

COMMENTS: David stayed in the wilderness in strong holds, and Saul sought him every day, but God kept him from Saul. Jonathan was able to go to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. Jonathan told David that when David became king in Israel, Jonathan would be next to him. The two of them again made a covenant before the LORD, then David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.


F - JONATHAN AND HIS FATHER SAUL DIED IN BATTLE

1 Samuel 31 "1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines followed hard on Saul and on his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Melchishua, Saul's sons. 3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. 4 Then said Saul to his armor bearer, Draw your sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armor bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell on it. 5 And when his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on his sword, and died with him. 6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor bearer, and all his men, that same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel that were on the other side of the valley, and they that were on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelled in them. 8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount Gilboa. 9 And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armor, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of their idols, and among the people. 10 And they put his armor in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan. 11 And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul; 12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. 13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days."

COMMENTS: The Philistines fought against Israel and caused them to flee from the battle, but Saul and his sons were pursued. Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor bearer, and all his men, that same day together. This caused many of the men of Israel to abandon their cities and flee, which allowed the Philistines to occupy those cities. When the Philistines found Saul and his three sons dead in the field, they cut off Saul's head in order to send it around to their own cities to praise their idols and share their boasting. Another step for them was to put Saul's armor in the house of Ashtaroth, and displayed his body by fastening it to the wall at Bethshan. Even though there was no united courage left in Israel to fight at that time, valiant men of Jabeshgilead upon hearing about Saul, traveled all night. They wanted to deprive the Philistines of having the shameful display of the body of Saul and his sons. Due to the deteriorated condition of the bodies, they took them to Jabesh, burned the bodies and buried the bones under a tree at Jabesh. Then in a manner of respect and honor, they fasted seven days.


G - THE FALSE STORY OF AN AMALEKITE COST HIM HIS LIFE

2 Samuel 1 "1 Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had stayed two days in Ziklag; 2 It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth on his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance. 3 And David said to him, From where come you? And he said to him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped. 4 And David said to him, How went the matter? I pray you, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also. 5 And David said to the young man that told him, How know you that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? 6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance on mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned on his spear; and, see, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. 7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, Here am I. 8 And he said to me, Who are you? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. 9 He said to me again, Stand, I pray you, on me, and slay me: for anguish is come on me, because my life is yet whole in me. 10 So I stood on him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was on his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord. 11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him: 12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword. 13 And David said to the young man that told him, From where are you? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. 14 And David said to him, How were you not afraid to stretch forth your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed? 15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall on him. And he smote him that he died. 16 And David said to him, Your blood be on your head; for your mouth has testified against you, saying, I have slain the LORD's anointed."

COMMENTS: It is interesting that David and his men had slaughtered many Amalekites, and David then had stayed two days in Ziklag. On the third day a man came out from the camp of Saul with torn clothing and dirt on his head. He came before David and fell down in front of him in a position of obeisance. When David asked him for a report, he said the people fled and many had died, including Saul and his three sons. When David asked How he knew they were dead, he said Saul was seriously wounded; and after Saul had asked who he was, he said he was an Amalekite. The Amalekite said Saul asked him to kill him because he was in anguish with a fatal wound, so I killed him, and brought the crown and bracelet from him to you, my lord. This was a lie the Amalekite thought would bring a reward from David, because it was well known that Saul had wanted David to be killed.

David reacted to what he had heard and the evidence of the crown and bracelet, and tore his clothing; and all the men who were with him did likewise: they mourned, and wept, and fasted until the evening. This was done for Saul, for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD. This was especially significant for the house of Israel because they had died in battle. David then asked for an identification and got a response from the young man who said he was an Amalekite. David applied a higher degree of respect that Israel should have for their king, as he asked the young man why he had not hesitated to kill the LORD's anointed. There is no indication of any type of response, and David called one of his young men and the Amalekite was killed. David pronounced to the dead man that his blood was on his own head because he had testified against himself from his own mouth that he had slain the LORD's anointed. This was a final testimony by David that he had respect for the appointment of Saul as king, even though there had been many attempts to kill David. David continually waited for the LORD to bring about the removal of King Saul after the prophet Samuel had anointed David to be king instead of Saul. David had much grieving, especially for the death of Jonathan; but there would be seven years before David became king over a united Israel.


H - DAVID GAVE A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO JONATHAN AND SAUL

2 Samuel 1 "17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: 18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.) 19 The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places: how are the mighty fallen! 20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph. 21 You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, on you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. 22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. 23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 24 You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 How are the mighty fallen in the middle of the battle! O Jonathan, you were slain in your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant have you been to me: your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. 27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"

COMMENTS: It is likely that David found some release of his grief as he composed a poem with various aspects of his deep emotions set down in writing. There is indication that his well-constructed poem was also recorded in the book of Jasher, which is not among the books of Scripture. Committing a poem or song to memory is one of the ways the content of a written work can be more easily remembered.
Verses 19 through 21 identify those who died as mighty, and even having an aspect of beauty. Though the name of the LORD is not mentioned in this lament, it would be very unusual without God's intervention that there would be no Philistine celebration in their major cities. And the description that even the mountains of Gilboa could be imagined in the mind's eye as displaying sorrow because the anointed (of the LORD) died there in battle for Israel.
Verses 20 through 24 give praise to the exceptional valor and skills of Saul and Jonathan, with absolutely no negative remarks, as this father and son team fought so effectively for the nation of Israel. While King Saul reigned there were many material gifts provided for the women, and they now should mourn the loss of their king.
Verses 25 through 27 close this lament with personal acclimation by David that the mighty have fallen in battle, and the weapons of war thereby perished. In between the two expressions of praise, David gave a very personal expression of the incomparable close relationship he had with Jonathan, and the depth of his feeling of sorrow and distress for the loss of Jonathan. Though David wrote of a very rare love that surpassed the love of women, that indicated an emotional bond stronger than sexual attraction. But in the best of Christian marriage, though still perhaps somewhat rare, there is a second bond besides sexual; and that can be the same bond David and Jonathan experienced.

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I thank you for the record of Scripture that has allowed me to seek a closer consideration of the admirable character traits common to Jonathan and David, by gathering what I believe are pertinent passages. I pray that you will help me also to be humble before you, and truly wait for your guidance by the Holy Spirit for each important decision that comes across my path. I found nothing in the passages related to Jonathan that indicated he ever allowed himself to go after the things of the world as the son of a king. He did not disrespect his father King Saul, and stayed with him even unto death. But at the same time he clearly supported David because he believed it was the will of God for David to become king in Israel. I thank you Lord, for the uncommon example that David and Jonathan represent for a type of strong relationship in the church today: which may be between some husbands and wives who are believers, or between some who are inseparable Christian friends. David wrote a beautiful part with endearment for Jonathan in his lament for the loss of both Saul and Jonathan, and there was no element about Saul that detracted from his sorrowful distress. Lord, give me discernment to apply the principles I have seen in this study. Amen, and amen.

Published 22 July 2020