1 Samuel 20:1-27-42 – A Relationship Sustained in Truth

But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”

Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

“Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. (New International Version)

“An acquaintance merely enjoys your company, a fair-weather companion flatters when all is well, a true friend has your best interests at heart and the pluck to tell you what you need to hear.”

E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Sometimes you think you know somebody, and you find out you really didn’t know them well at all. 

It even happens within families, not to mention churches. Jonathan, the warrior son of King Saul, had to come to grips with the fact that his father was going down a path to the dark side and becoming Darth Saul. 

Jonathan heard some hard truth from his best friend, David, about his father. David confronted Jonathan with the reality that Saul was trying to kill him. It was difficult to process such information. Yet, to Jonathan’s credit, he was open to the possibility of what David, a trusted and close friend, had to say.

David wisely did not show up for an appointed feast, knowing his life was at risk. Jonathan used the opportunity to find out if what David had said was true, or not. Furthermore, Jonathan and David together had developed a plan, in case King Saul had really turned to the dark side.

Relationships must be based upon truth. A true friend is willing to reprove and rebuke with care and grace. That friend will listen to the truth and is not concerned with trying to manipulate or take advantage of the relationship. 

Jonathan, as a person of integrity, was willing to find out the truth about his father. Once he determined the awful realization of his father’s true intentions, Jonathan was willing to adjust his life to fit the new information.

There is some high level relational work going on in this Old Testament lesson for today. It is tragic when people are willing to settle for superficial relationships. Building relational intimacy takes time and effort, the kind of work that both Jonathan and David were willing to put into their friendship. 

They found themselves in turbulent times, but the friends found their ultimate security in the Lord and continually reminded each other of God’s ability to sustain them. Jonathan and David truly had a model relationship for us all to emulate.

Sovereign God, you are supreme over all creation. May the glue of truth hold all of my relationships together. May they be centered fully and completely around the Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

*Above icon of Jonathan and David painted by Br. Robert Lentz

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