1 Samuel Chapter 20

David was forced to run away from his home and his wife, because king Saul desired to kill him. His wife, the daughter of Saul, helped him to escape. Jonathan, the son of Saul, was a close friend to David. They loved one another as brothers, and were described earlier as having souls knit together. David had done nothing to deserve the treatment he had received from Saul, in fact, he had been a loyal and hard-working servant to the king. Saul hated David because he was jealous of they way others loved him and praised him. In his envy and jealousy, Saul had gone after David, to find him and kill him. David had found Samuel and was hiding among the prophets. This chapter begins as follows:

1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?
2 And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.
3 And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.
4 Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.
5 And David said unto 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 unto the third day at even.
6 If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Beth-lehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.
7 If he say thus, It is well; thy servant shall have peace: but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.
8 Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the Lord with thee: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father?
9 And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?
10 Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?

Saul had gone to the place where David had hidden with the prophets. David fled and went to Jonathan to ask why his father was trying to kill him. Saul had made a promise to Jonathan before, that he would not kill David, so when Jonathan heard this from David, he did not believe it. He felt his father would not do such a thing, without his knowing. David told him, that Saul must have seen how much Jonathan cared for him, which is why he would have kept his desire from him. David promised him, that he was not mistaken, but that he knew his life was in danger. Jonathan told him, he would do anything David wanted. This was because he loved David. David knew that according to tradition, he should have dinner with the king the next day, but he asked Jonathan to allow him to hide for three days. If Saul missed him or mentioned him not being there, David asked Jonathan to tell Saul that David had asked to be excused in order to return to his home of Bethlehem to make a yearly sacrifice with his family. If Saul was accepting of this excuse, then David would know everything was fine, but if Saul got mad about it, Jonathan would know that David had been right about the desires of his father. David asked that Jonathan deal kindly with him, if this be the case, because they had made a covenant with one another. But, if Jonathan learned that David had misled him, he could kill David himself rather than take him to Saul. Jonathan said that if he knew his father’s plans were to kill him, he would tell David. David asked him how he would know if Jonathan learned of his father’s plans, or how he would know if Saul mistreated Jonathan.

11 And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field.
12 And Jonathan said unto 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 unto thee, and shew it thee;
13 The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father.
14 And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not:
15 But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath 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.
18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
19 And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt 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 unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the Lord liveth.
22 But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the Lord hath sent thee away.
23 And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the Lord be between thee and me for ever.

Jonathan took David to a field, and made a covenant with him. He would seek out the feelings and desires of his father. If things were good, and he didn’t let David know, the Lord could deal with him. If Saul desired to do evil against David, Jonathan would let him know and send him away in peace and a blessing that the Lord be with him. Jonathan asked that David covenant to show friendship and kindness towards him and his family forever, even when the Lord had cut off all of David’s enemies. They made a covenant with one another, because they loved each other so much. Jonathan would go along with the plan that David had laid out. When the three days had passed, without word from Jonathan, David was to hide himself by the stone Ezel. Jonathan would go there, and shoot three arrows on the side of the stone, as he pretended to shoot at a mark. He would send a young man to gather the arrows. If the young man was told that the arrows were beside the stone, David would know that things were alright and he could come out of hiding. If he told the young man that the arrows were beyond the stone, David would know to go away in peace. Either way, their covenant would be between them forever.

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 upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, and David’s place was empty.
26 Nevertheless Saul spake not any thing that day: for he thought, Something hath 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 unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh 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 Beth-lehem:
29 And he said, Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren. Therefore he cometh not unto the king’s table.
30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness?
31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.
32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath 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.

David hid in the field while king Saul had his meal. There was an empty place where his son-in-law, David, should have been seated. Assuming that David was not well enough to be there, Saul did not say anything on the first day. David’s seat was empty on the second day, and Saul asked Jonathan why David had not been there for two days. Jonathan told Saul the words that he and David had planned. Saul was angry with Jonathan, and spoke against him, for his support of David. Saul told Jonathan that he would never have the kingdom. He commanded him to bring David to him, to be killed. Jonathan asked what David had done to deserve being killed. In response, Saul attempted to hit Jonathan with his javelin. Jonathan knew that the words of David had been true, and he left without eating with the king. Jonathan grieved for David.

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 unto 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 thee?
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 unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.

Jonathan went to the field as they had planned, and shot the arrow beyond the stone, to show David that he was right and could leave in peace. Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the young man that was with him and told the boy to take it back 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, 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.

After the boy had left, David came out of hiding. He honored Jonathan, kissed him, and cried with him. Jonathan told David to go, with a reminder of their covenant. David left him, and Jonathan returned to the city.

Jonathan had hoped that his father would not do evil against his cherished friend. After all, Saul had already made him a promise. But, Saul’s anger and jealousy had blinded him to anything else, and he did not care about anything that had happened in the past, other than praises going to David instead of to himself. All he desired at this point, was for David to be killed. I am sure that parting under these circumstances was incredibly sad for these friends. One of the things I learn from this chapter, is the good character found in Jonathan. It would have been easy for Jonathan to turn against David and give him up. If he had, he possibly could have secured greater power in the kingdom from his father. But, Jonathan was a trustworthy and loyal friend, who knew that the things his father wanted, were wrong. He did not care for greater power or the honors of the king. I am sure that he also recognized that God was with David and not with his father. He would have been choosing to follow after something other than what God wanted, if he had chosen to help his father. Jonathan did not weaken under the pressures of threat against his own personal safety. He loved David and was faithful to their covenant of friendship. It would be a huge blessing to anyone, to have a friend like Jonathan. Friends can have a great impact on the choices we make and the path we choose to follow. Our lives may not be threatened as David’s was, but we all our fighting our way through this life each and every day. True loyalty and love are very important in our relationships with others. Any person could know that a friend like Jonathan, would never seek their own interests without loving and supporting them first. I know this kind of friendship and it has been an amazing blessing in my life. I hope that I am now, or that I can become, a truly loyal and loving friend in my own relationships.

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