A recent conversation with a dear friend reminded me of the story of David and Jonathan. The Bible talks about a great friendship that existed between the heir apparent of Israel - Jonathan bin Saul and the anointed King of Israel David. In 1 Samuel 18:1 the Scripture says that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. In the standards of the world, these were supposed to be sworn enemies probably trying all in their power to outmaneuver each other so as to win the golden fleece – the throne of Israel. Interestingly however, we read a different storyline about the two: The Scripture states that Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.( Vs 3-4)
My reading of the Scripture suggests that Jonathan was not very keen about the throne. He seems to care for David more than assuming the leadership of Israel. He looks out for his brother David even when the former is threatened by his own father. Jonathan does all in his power to protect David. In 1 Samuel 19:1, the Scripture reads that Now Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David; but Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted greatly in David. In Verse 4 Jonathan states that “Let not the king sin against his servant, against David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his works have been very good toward you. 5 For he took his life in his hands and killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great deliverance for all Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, to kill David without a cause?”
Ideally most heirs apparent would want to wipe out the competition. However, it seems Jonathan knew that the anointing to lead Israel was not on him but on David. 1 Samuel 20:31 Saul states that ‘ For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you ( Jonathan) shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why should he be killed? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David. Jonathan therefore doesn’t show any regret that this is so. He vows to support David all the way.
David also values his relationship with Jonathan very deeply. Not only did he willingly enter a covenant with Saul, they both never bother to talk about the elephant in the room which is the throne of Israel. The two gentlemen are more concerned about relationship over position. It is no wonder therefore that David weeps deeply when Jonathan is slain. I 2 Samuel 1 he weeps – Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. David would later seek out Jonathan’s family and looks after them to the end of their days.( 2 Samuel 9: 1-13). Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth would from that day eat at David’s table, just like David’s sons.(Vs. 11).
In my view, David did this because he was a man after God's own heart, he was also an honorable man, but he also did it because he valued his relationship with Jonathan over and above the fact that Jonathan’s father had at one point put a bounty on David’s head. A bounty that Saul himself had often tried to execute in vain. David instead returned the property of Saul to his predecessor's successor Mephibosheth. In 2 Samuel 9:7, David says to Mephibosheth - “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”
The above story begs the question for me – who is my Jonathan? Who is that guy who I am sure will do all in his power to protect me, look out for me and even look out for my family in case anything should ever happen to me? Who is that guy who will stand up for me even before his own father or his bosses? Who is that guy who I will also look out for when he is in trouble?
Men have been described to have three weak points – money, power and women. I think that my Jonathan is that guy who is willing to let go of money and power for my sake. He will look out for me not to fall into sexual temptation and protect me when I do. He will shield me like a bodyguard when I am weak. He will also speak to me frankly and in love when he feel that I have gone astray. I should also do the same do the same for him.
In my next blogs, I intend to explore in more detail what I think being a Jonathan means practically -