1 Samuel 18:1-20:42
Dr. S. Lewis Johnson discusses the relationship of David and Jonath
[Prayer] Father, we thank Thee for Thy word and for the privilege of looking into it again. We thank Thee for the famous men of the Old Testament whose lives are such wonderful illustrations of life with Thee. We thank Thee for David, and we praise Thee for the faithfulness that he has shown to Thee. We also thank Thee Lord for the illustrations of failure for they do remind us that we are all simply dust, simply men. Enable us to profit from the failures of the men under the old covenant, and enable us also Lord to profit from the ways in which they have pleased Thee. We would desire Lord to be like David, a man after Thine own heart. So enable us as we study his life to profit from it and we commit this particular hour to Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] Now this is nineteen hundred and eighty, and we are trying to read through the Bible. And so tonight I’m going to try to help you do that by seeking to cover three chapters in the Book of 1 Samuel. And really what I would like to do since the story of David and Jonathan, that is the title for this series, this particular one in the series on David. The story of David and Jonathan covers these three chapters. In fact if we covered the whole of the story of David and Jonathan it would be even more. So, again, what I would like to do is to read some sections in the word of God and make just a few comments after reading them. And then on your little folder in which you are reading through the Bible you can just mark out “I read 3 chapters.” So when you get to that particular section in your reading, well you will have a holiday. [Laughter] And we will be serving two purposes by the message.
So, the subject for tonight is the third in the series on the life of David, and it is David and Jonathan. Let me just in the beginning introduce what we want to do tonight with a couple of words. The story of David thus far has been the story of his call and then of his conflict with Goliath. And I think it is important to remember that David met Goliath as a shepherd, and we made the parallel in our last study of the life of David between the events in the life of our Lord and the events in the life of David. And we made a particular parallel between the overcoming of Goliath and the overcoming of Satan by the Lord Jesus Christ. We said that the work of David in overcoming Goliath suggested to us, I think we could call it a type, but at least we could call it an illustration of our Lord Jesus Christ’s overcoming of Satan.
Now it is, I think, interesting, and I didn’t mention this last time, that our Lord Jesus of course is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep and it was as a shepherd that David met Goliath and won his victory. And so there is that further parallel between the work of David and the work of Christ.
Now, the beautiful relationship between David and Jonathan is almost unparalleled. David himself commenting upon the relationship after the death of Jonathan says, “Thy love was wonderful, passing the love of women,” most interesting comment. And it testifies to the depth of the affection that Jonathan had for David. “Thy love was wonderful.” “Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” There are many faint pictures in myth and history of the love of two men for one another, holy and pure love of two men, one for another. Orestes and Pylades and Theseus and Pirithous, Nessus and Euryalus and then of course Damon and Pythias, commonly used as illustrations of the love between two men. And even the love of Robert E. Lee for Stonewall Jackson cannot compare with the love that Jonathan had for David.
Now the story of the relationship between David and Jonathan is told in seven installments. And these are the three chapters with the seven installments that we want to cover. And the first of the installments is a rather brief one, and it has to do with the covenant of David and Jonathan, and it is covered in the first 4 verses of 1 Samuel chapter 18. So, if you have your Bibles turn with me now to 1 Samuel chapter 18, and I want to read verses 1 through 4.
“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day (that is, took David) took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.”
Now, I can imagine that Hollywood, the media, and the mood in which the media operates might want to make something evil out of the relationship between David and Jonathan. But so far as the Scriptures is concerned, it was truly the love of a man for a man. Jonathan was every inch a man. In the Scriptures, he is spoken of as a warrior and a very successful warrior who was responsible himself for a great victory. He was a brave man. We don’t have time to look at the texts, but I have texts in my notes following each one of these comments that I’m making to support them. He was a brave man. He was a highly respected and esteemed man. He was of course a loving man, that’s the relationship that he bore to David. He was in addition a spiritual man, and you find him exhorting others to find comfort in the Lord God. He was a man of principle. He was of course a man of self sacrifice. He was the one person probably who had reason to be jealous of David in the greatest way because he was the son of Saul, and you might have thought that he might have succeeded his father as king in Israel, but even though he was the one person who had reason to be jealous, he was self sacrificing because of his love for David. And when David hears of the death of Saul and Jonathan, three times over in that great Psalm that he sings of sadness and mourning, he says, “How are the mighty fallen?” So we must think of Jonathan as a true man in every way and yet a tremendous love for David.
In fact this relationship between Jonathan and David is itself illustrative of the relationship between a believer and David’s greater son the Lord Jesus Christ. You can imagine that Jonathan first was a man who was terrified just as most of the Israelites were by the presence of Goliath, for when Goliath issued his challenge no one was willing to go out. And so in that sense he illustrates the believer who is fearful of death.
Many years ago I read a story of an undertaker. He thought that since others were advertising their particular businesses that he ought to advertize his. And so he went in the back of his shop and took out a coffin and moved it out to the street and put it outside of his place of business, thinking that that might be a means of advertisement. He was shocked to discover that the community was not to happy over it. They began to object, and finally they objected to the mayor. And the mayor made him take his coffin back in. People don’t like to think of death. They don’t really like to think of the fact that they really are going to die someday. We don’t really like to think of ourselves as sinners. We don’t really like to think of ourselves as being under guilt and under condemnation.
Well, we can think of Jonathan as a person who was fearful of Goliath and Goliath representative of the fear of death, in that respect, Jonathan is illustrative of most of us because we are naturally fearful of death. The writer of the Epistle of the Hebrews makes that plain. But then Jonathan became a man totally satisfied with David. We read that when David, “had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.” And so it was a kind of love at first sight between the two men as he heard David speak to his father, King Saul. It represents the satisfaction that the believer has when the words of Christ really begin to make an impression upon him. When reading the Scriptures or hearing a message, the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and brings them home to us, and for the first time we sense our lost condition, that we are sinners and under guilt and condemnation, and we need a savior. And then we hear of the wonderful work our Lord Jesus Christ by which he has laid down his life for the redemption of our sins. And all of this comes home to us, pours in upon us, and we respond realizing through the Holy Spirit that what Christ has done is a perfect satisfaction of all of our debts with God, and by means of that, we come to the possession of eternal life. What a tremendous experience that is. That is something that determines our whole life and destiny. It’s like turning around and going an entirely different way.
And then David is so great in the eyes of Jonathan that Jonathan is completely captivated by him. He not only has his soul knit to David but twice in these verses we read, “Jonathan loved him as himself.” And then over in chapter 19 and verse 2, it says that, “He delighted much in David.” The New American Standard Bible has “Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David.” And so here we have a person that was terrified at one time, the fear of death satisfied with David and now captivated completely by him. The work that David had done in overcoming Goliath satisfied his fear. But now, the worth of David, the person worth of David, has captivated the soul of Jonathan. “Greatly delighting in him,” and as a result of that we read in verse 4 that, “Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.” In other words, he suffered the loss of all of his possessions because of his love for David, God’s beloved. What a beautiful little picture that is in itself of the love that a believer should have for our Lord Jesus Christ. Now those are Jonathan’s actions, for Saul, well Saul took him, patronized him and made him serve him in the court.
Now, let’s look at the next section, and this is a section beginning at verse 5 and going through verse 16. And it has to do with the jealously of Saul. We read it.
“So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine (or the Philistine.)”
I’m not really sure exactly how to pronounce that because some of our dictionaries pronounce it with the accent on the first syllable and some on the second. When I was growing up in Sunday school, it was always the Philistines. And then recently, I looked in the dictionary, and it said, Philistine. So, what shall we call it? If I am not consistent, you’ll understand why.
“When David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.’ Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God, (now how do you like that you Arminians?) [Laughter] now, an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. Saul hurled the spear for he thought, ‘I will pin David to the wall.’ But David escaped from his presence twice. Now Saul was afraid of David, for the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence and appointed him as his commander of a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. David was prospering in all his ways for the LORD was with him. When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, and he went out and came in before them.”
Now, there are some lessons here. The one lesson I want to mention is the lesson of the progress of disregarded light. For you see Saul had a great deal of light from the Lord God. He had a great deal of potential. He was a great physical specimen, highly regarded by the people, chosen by them as the first king. And therefore he had special relationships with the Lord God, for the kings had special relationships with the Lord God.
But Saul did not respond to the light that God gave him. And I want you to notice what happens when one does not respond to the light that God gives them. We have in verse 9 the statement, “Saul looked at David with suspicion,” and so, jealously ensues. And then we read in verse 12, “Saul was afraid of David.” And in verse 15 when Saul saw that he was prospering greatly he, “dreaded him.” And finally down in verse 29 we read, “Then Saul was even more afraid of David.” And finally in chapter 19 and verse 1, “Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death.” That is the progress of disregarded light.
And you can see it in Saul’s experience. He was a man who would not respond to the word of God, and consequently he became so weak in his spiritual life that he was an easy mark for specific sins, jealousy then awe and dread of David and finally the desire to murder him. One thinks of Cain and his relationship to Abel, and one thinks of the Pharisees and our Lord Jesus Christ, how that for envy they put him to death. In the Proverbs we read, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones.”
Now let’s read on. The next section, the next chapter describes the plots of Saul against David. Beginning at verse 17 through the remainder of chapter 18, 17 through 30.
“Then Saul said to David, ‘Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife, only be a valiant man for me and fight the LORD’S battles ‘ For Saul thought, ‘My hand shall not be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.’ But David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be the king’s son-in-law?’ So it came about at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, that she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. When they told Saul, the thing was agreeable to him. Saul thought, ‘I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him’ Therefore Saul said to David, ‘For a second time you may be my son-in-law today.’ Then Saul commanded his servants, ‘Speak to David secretly, saying, ‘Behold, the king delights in you, and all his servants love you; now therefore, become the king’s son-in-law.’’ So Saul’s servants spoke these words to David. But David said, ‘Is it trivial in your sight to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and lightly esteemed?’ The servants of Saul reported to him according to these words which David spoke. Saul then said, ‘Thus you shall say to David, ‘The king does not desire any dowry except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to take vengeance on the king’s enemies.’’ Now, Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. When his servants told David these words, it pleased David to become the king’s son-in-law. Before the days had expired David rose up and went, he and his men, and struck down two hundred men among the Philistines Then David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. So Saul gave him Michal his daughter for a wife. When Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, then Saul was even more afraid of David. Thus Saul was David’s enemy continually. Then the commanders of the Philistines went out to battle, and it happened as often as they went out, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed.”
These plots that we read here are plots that involve the two daughters of Saul, Merab and Michal. And the lesson, of course, that we learn from this is in the first place the futility of the wicked’s designs against the righteous. In this case Saul hoped that by these things he might gain an advantage over David and get rid of him. We read in the next chapter, of course, it was by virtue of the fact that Michal was his wife that he managed to escape from Saul on one occasion in which it might have seemed that he might not escape. And we also see, of course, the safety of the righteous. The unrighteous say God has forgotten those who have believed in him, but he, “disappointeth the devises of the crafty,” the word of God says. It’s the same old story that we find throughout holy Scripture. It’s the story of Haman and the Jews, and Mordechai. It’s the story of John Knox and the Scottish and the English and the French kings and the religious leaders of his day who sought to snuff out his life, but by the providence of God, he was preserved. And consequently the wicked experienced futility by virtue of the providence of God and the righteous are safe.
Now, let’s begin chapter 19, this is your Bible reading night. You’ve finished one chapter already. So, here we read of further attempts on the part of Saul to slay David. We’ll read the first 17 verses.
“Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David. So Jonathan told David saying, ‘Saul my father is seeking to put you to death. Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you; if I find out anything, then I will tell you.’ Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, ‘Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you. For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, (that’s a reference to Goliath, of course) and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?’ Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan, and Saul vowed, ‘As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.’ (Notice that) Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these words. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as formerly. When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines and defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him. Now there was an evil spirit from the LORD on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, in order to put him to death in the morning. But Michal, (now this is the one that he thought by a pretext he might make his own confederate in the death of David, but God turns the devises of the wicked to his own purposes) But Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, ‘If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death.’ So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped. Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. (Later on in the story of David it becomes evident that Michal is not a very spiritual woman, if a believer at all, because when David dances before the arch later on in the story of the life of David, she was very much offended by that.) When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, ‘He is sick.’ Then Saul sent messengers to see David, saying, ‘Bring him up to me on his bed, that I may put him to death.’ When the messengers entered, behold, the household idol was on the bed with the quilt of goats’ hair at its head. (I always wondered where they got that custom of putting pillows in the bed in order to make people think that you were really there. Really it came from the Bible it looks like.) So Saul said to Michal, ‘Why have you deceived me like this and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?’ And Michal said to Saul, ‘He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I put you to death?’”
So here are further attempts on the part of Saul to slay David. Now notice there are two further attempts after the reconciliation that is mentioned in the earlier verses. Verse 6 he had said, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” But Saul is not a man of his word, and consequently two further attempts against David’s life are made.
Now, I think that this illustrates some interesting principles, and I just mention them. We find illustrated here again, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” And so, he let his daughter become the wife of David with an ulterior motive, and therefore he reaps in the sense that when he had David he loses him because of his own daughter Michal.
And then the second lesson which might not appear here, but appears in the Psalms is the lesson of the value of trust in God. And I’m going to ask you now if you’ll turn over with me to Psalm 59. Now this Psalm has a very interesting heading. And incidentally, we’ll read through this Psalm and that will give you another chapter on your Bible reading, and you take your pencil and just mark through Psalm 59 when you get there, you’ve all ready read it. Remember Dr. Johnson read it to you. So, Psalm 59, now notice the heading of the Psalm, “For the choir director,” and then we read, “A Mikhtam of David, when Saul sent men and they watched the house in order to kill him.” So now this is a Psalm that David wrote while he was in the house and the men were outside. He was held hostage, except this was not America held hostage, this was Israel, Israel held hostage night one, “Deliver me.” This is what David did, and I think our hostages in Tehran would probably be in a much better frame of mind if they were doing the things that David did, if they had the faith that David had, and also if they were writing songs and hymns out of their trust in God. Now listen to what he says, he’s in the house and Saul’s men are outside.
“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Set me securely on high away from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from those who do iniquity and save me from men of bloodshed. For behold, they have set an ambush for my life; Fierce men launch an attack against me, Not for my transgression not for my sin, O LORD, For no guilt of mine, they run and set themselves against me Arouse Thyself to help me, and see! And Thou, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; do not be gracious to any who are treacherous in iniquity. They return at evening, they howl like a dog, and go around the city. Behold, they belch forth with their mouth;”
This is a tremendous parallel with what’s happening in Tehran because this is the kind of thing that I think about when I see all of those men rushing around with their signs and their howlings and screamings in the street as long as the media is there. Verse 6,
“They return at evening, they howl like a dog, and go around the city. Behold, they belch forth with their mouth; Swords are in their lips, for, they say, ‘Who hears?’ But Thou, O LORD, laugh at them; Thou doest scoff at all the nations. Because of his strength I will watch for Thee, (notice those words, I want to come back and say just a word about them) For God is my stronghold. My God in His loving kindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. Do not slay them, lest my people will forget; Scatter them by Thy power, and bring them down, O Lord, our shield. On account of the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be caught in their pride, And on account of curses and lies which they utter. Destroy them in wrath, destroy them that they may be no more; that men may know that God rules in Jacob To the ends of the earth. And they return at evening, they howl like a dog, and go around the city. They wander about for food and growl if they are not satisfied. But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy loving kindness in the morning, For Thou hast been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to Thee; For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me loving kindness.”
Now, it’s interesting to me that this word in verse 9, “Because of his strength I will watch for Thee,” was the word. That is the Hebrew word “shamar” which means “to keep.” That’s the word I mentioned to you previously. I had a little dog. We named the dog Shamar because a keeper. It was irony because he was a fox terrier and couldn’t keep anybody, but we did call him Shamar. Now that word is a word that is used of a shepherd watching a flock. It’s used of a watchman on top of a tower watching for the enemy to come. It’s used of a century. And you’ll notice that he says, “Because of his strength I will watch for him.” And then in verse 10, “My God in his loving kindness will meet me.” And so, watching for him is the secret of meeting him, and just as he said here in the morning he will sing of his loving kindness, so in his own experience that is precisely what happened because Michal let him down, and he managed to escape. And the next morning he did exactly what he said he was going to do in that Psalm. He sang of the loving kindness of God in the morning. Saul, in these experiences of trying to put David to death, must have echoed the sentiments of Julian the Apostate who had sought so often to destroy the testimony of Christianity. He said, “Thou hast conquered O Galilean.”
Now, in chapter 19 verse 18 through verse 24 we have the flight of David to Naioth. It’s really a flight to Ramah and Samuel. But we’ll read these verses now, and you’ll have two chapters that you’ve read. “Now David fled and escaped.” That is, unless you’re sitting there not paying any attention. That doesn’t count. You do not get to write through those chapters unless you’re listening. Verse 18,
“Now David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him and he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth. It was told Saul, saying, ‘Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.’ Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them.”
See there was a little seminary down there that Samuel was leading. It was a group of men that he was training. These were men of God being trained by Samuel. So,
“When they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied.”
See God is overruling all of their designs. And these men fall into an ecstatic trance and begin to sin praises to the Lord God, rather than doing what Saul wished them to do. So Saul decided well I think I better go myself.
“Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, ‘Where are Samuel and David?’ And someone said, ‘Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.’ He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah. (So, even Saul is overtaken by the power of God, and then we read in verse 24) He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night Therefore they say, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’”
That’s the second time that that statement has been made concerning Saul that I remember. Now the striking thing of course about this is that as these men seek to take David from Samuel, instead of being taken, they themselves are taken by God. In the New Testament we read that we are, “Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” And the men of the Old Testament knew in their own experience that kind of keeping power. Daniel in the midst of the lion’s den knew that kind of power too. And you also learn from this that frenzies, prophetic frenzies, do not necessarily come from faith. Sometimes they are the product of the working of God in judgment, and that is precisely what happened here. These people who fell on the ground and prophesied, and while it doesn’t say they spoke in tongues, they had the same kind of experience, they were prophesying, falling on the ground and in Saul’s case, he was taking off his clothes in this ecstatic frenzy. It was not done because they had faith. It was done because God was destroying the evil purposes that they had in mind. I would imagine that some people might have come out and said, “My, those men are prophets.” And might even have identified themselves with them, but how wrong they would have been in doing that.
Now, let’s turn to chapter 20 and let’s read verses 1 through 23.
“Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said to Jonathan, ‘What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?’ He said to him, ‘Far from it, you shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!’ Yet David vowed again, saying, ‘Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved’ But truly as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.’ Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Whatever you say, I will do for you.’ So David said to Jonathan, ‘Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down to eat with the king But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.’ If he says, ‘It is good,’ your servant will be safe; but if he is very angry, know that he has decided on evil. ‘Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you But if there is iniquity in me, put me to death yourself; for why then should you bring me to your father?’ Jonathan said, ‘Far be it from you! For if I should indeed learn that evil has been decided by my father to come upon you, then would I not tell you about it?’ Then David said to Jonathan, ‘Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?’ Jonathan said to David, ‘Come, and let us go out into the field.’ So both of them went out to the field. Then Jonathan said to David, ‘The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if there is good feeling toward David, shall I not then send to you and make it known to you? If it please my father to do you harm, may the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also, if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety And may the LORD be with you as He has been with my father. If I am still alive, will you not show me the loving kindness of the LORD, that I may not die? You shall not cut off your loving kindness from my house forever, not even when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.’ So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the LORD require it at the hands of David’s enemies.’ Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life. Then Jonathan said to him, ‘Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty. When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target. And behold, I will send the lad, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the lad, ‘Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come; for there is safety for you and no harm, as the LORD lives. But if I say to the youth, ‘Behold, the arrows are beyond you,’ go, for the LORD has sent you away. As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever.’”
Now this is the renewal of the covenant between David and Jonathan, and of course, it’s obvious that we have here the lesson of the uncertainty of life, but the providence of God guarding David all the way. He says, “There’s “hardly a step between me and death,” but over arching all of his fears and all of his anxiety is the providence of God. “A man knoweth not his time.” “What is your life?” James asks. Why it’s just simply a vapor. And you can understand David’s remark in the light of the fact that in the Old Testament they did not have the brightness of the hope that we in New Testament times have because when Christ came things did change and a much clearer view of life after death came into existence.
The second lesson, of course, is the love of Jonathan which pictures the love of the saved for the Savior. It reminds me of the text, “For the love of Christ constraineth us.” You notice in this next particular section it says in verse 41, “And they kissed each other and wept together, but David more.”
Now let me read the last section. This is the warning of David by Jonathan. Verse 24 through verse 42 and I think we’ll have time to finish it.
“So David hid in the field; and when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. The king sat on his seat as usual, the seat by the wall; then Jonathan rose up and Abner sat down by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. Nevertheless Saul did not speak anything that day, for he thought, ‘It is an accident, he is not clean, surely he is not clean.’ (That is ceremonially clean, touched a dead body or something like that.) It came about the next day, the second day of the new moon, that David’s place was empty; so Saul said to Jonathan his son, ‘Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?’ Jonathan then answered Saul, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem, for he said, ‘Please let me go, since our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to attend. And now, if I have found favor in your sight, please let me get away that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.’ Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan,”
You notice that, against Jonathan, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake,” the Lord Jesus said. I find that illustrated here. Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan.
“And he said to him, ‘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 doesn’t care about having the kingdom. He wants David to have the kingdom. It’s a beautiful illustration too of the fact that we don’t want the right to rule over ourselves. We want him to. Well I must hurry.
“But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. (Yes, didn’t take much sense to figure that out, [Laughter]) Then Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him. Now it came about in the morning that Jonathan went out into the field for the appointment with David, and a little lad was with him. He said to his lad, ‘Run, find now the arrows which I am about to shoot.’ As the lad was running, he shot an arrow past him. When the lad reached the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the lad and said, ‘Is not the arrow beyond you?’ (David’s over hiding, and he hears it) And Jonathan called after the lad, ‘Hurry, be quick, do not stay!’ And Jonathan’s lad picked up the arrow and came to his master. But the lad was not aware of anything; only Jonathan and David knew about the matter. Then Jonathan gave his weapons to his lad and said to him, ‘Go, bring them to the city.’ When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times and they kissed each other and wept together, but David more. And Jonathan said to David, ‘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.’’ Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city.”
A magnificent picture of the love of Jonathan for David, and of course, the lesson of the glory of Jonathan’s choice, “He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. And here is a man who beautifully illustrates the fact that the love of Jesus Christ is a love that exceeds all other human loves. Jonathan of course later loses his life, but he wears now a crown that will never fade away. The appeal of Jonathan to the life of the Christian is the appeal of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostle Peter and to others. “Lovest thou me more than these?” Can you say truly with the apostle, “Yea Lord Thou knowest that I love Thee.” Our time is up. Let’s close with a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee for this wonderful lesson of the love of one man for another man and the illustration that it gives us of the love of a believer for the greater David, the Lord Jesus Christ. May our soul be truly knit to his soul. May we love him even greater than our own selves. And may the loves that we have for him beautifully represent the place that we have before Thee, creatures the recipients of loving kindness and mercy, when we have deserved the exact opposite. We pray Thy blessing upon the classes that follow. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.