1 Samuel 20
-As this chapter begins David is fleeing back to his confidant, Jonathan, from Naioth in Ramah where the wayward King Saul had been prophesying under the control of God rather than trying to kill God’s anointed as his flesh desired to do (1 Samuel 19:23-24). David’s plea to the king’s son is honest, “What have I done? What is my iniquity? And why is my sin before your father that he is seeking my life?” Jonathan swore to his friend’s protection and let him know that his father would do nothing without divulging his plans before him as his son. David still feared for his life and the pathos can be felt with these words, “…truly as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.” Jonathan, feeling his friend’s agony, responded, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David knew that a climax was approaching where he would be expected to eat with the king at his table due to the new moon festivities. He told Jonathan to let him go so that he could hide out in the field for three evenings. The plan was to read the king’s attitude toward his son-in-law and one-time commander (1 Samuel 18:5, 20-27). If Jonathan’s father missed David and asked about him, the son was to respond that David had gone to Bethlehem, his hometown, for a yearly sacrifice with the whole family. If Saul responded that that was good, then all would be well and he could return safely to the king’s presence. But, if he was angry, they would all know that Saul had decided on evil towards David. The covenant was remembered between David and Jonathan, and David told his trusted pal that if any iniquity be in him towards the king at all to kill him right away. It would be better than bringing him before the king. But, Jonathan reassured his soul-mate that it would be far from him not to protect the innocent David. He would tell him of any evil that was headed his way (1 Samuel 20:1-9).
-David still wanted to know how he would be informed if the king’s answer was harsh concerning his absence from the table. Jonathan took him out into the field and developed a plan. They renewed their covenant with each and the peace between their houses in perpetuity. They simply loved each other with a Godly-agape type of love. Jonathan loved David as he loved his own life (1 Samuel 20:10-17). It was a divine connection (1 Samuel 20:23). The plan was for David to hide in the field, and Jonathan would seek out how his father was reacting in the absence of David. If Saul was affable, Jonathan would send his youthful lad helping with his arrows to go a short distance not even to where David was hiding. This would indicate that it was safe for David to return into the king’s presence in peace and well-being with no harm. If Jonathan were to tell the lad to go further because the arrows were beyond him, David was to “go, for the LORD has sent you away.” So David hid in the field and the new moon meal came where the king had his traditional feast. He sat to eat as usual, and did notice that David was not there, though Jonathan and Abner, his uncle and commander, were present. Saul did not speak anything that first day thinking it was accident and that he was probably not ritually clean. Then the second day came, and David’s place was again empty. So Saul inquired to his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” Jonathan replied in the predetermined excuse that he had gone with permission to Bethlehem for the family sacrifice in the city. At this point, Saul’s anger burned and he began to curse his son, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.” Jonathan, like others in the king’s family, defended the virtuous David to the chagrin of his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Saul couldn’t take any more. This time he hurled a spear at his own son in rage trying to strike him down. Jonathan now knew without any shadow of a doubt that Saul’s intentions were indeed evil, and David had to be warned to evacuate quickly. Jonathan rose from the table in “fierce anger” that second day of the new moon and did not eat due to his grief over this situation with David’s dishonor because of his father’s jealousy issues (1 Samuel 20:24-34).
-It came about that next morning that Jonathan went out into the field as appointed for his communication with David, and a little lad was with him. Jonathan told his helper to run and find the arrows that he would shoot. As the lad took off Jonathan shot his arrow past him. When the lad got to the place where he thought the arrow had landed. Jonathan beckoned him to go further beyond that point. He also told him to hurry, to be quick, and not to stay or linger. The lad faithfully retrieved the arrow and came back to his master. But, the lad was not aware of anything concerning the matter between Jonathan and his coded communication with David. Soon enough, Jonathan instructed his lad to take his weapons back to the city. When the lad was gone, David arose from his hiding place to the south side and fell before Jonathan on his face bowing three times in honor and admiration. They brotherly, and culturally, kissed each other and wept together, for they knew that this was it. They would be separated and an unknown bitter future seemed all too obvious. “David,” the Scripture says, “wept the more.” Jonathan’s last words to his beloved friend summed it all up, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the Name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’” So, sadly David rose and departed, and Jonathan went back into the city (1 Samuel 20:35-42).
-*Application* There’s nothing like the feeling when we know that someone has our back. That they will be with us through thick or thin, rough and smooth, good times or bad. I have been blessed with friends like that through the years knowing that I could trust in and count on them. That indeed is a special feeling. Dearly loved and genuine friends are something God bestows on us as a gift of grace. Parting can be such sweet sorrow, but our memories hold us close and keep us in constant awareness. Let’s all thank the LORD for the true friends in our lives today, and even go further. Let them know how special they are to us. Express your love and appreciation to them.
Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 20:17