Purpose of this lesson: David would not allow the consequences of King Saul's hatred to govern his attitude.
Astoundingly, love can thrive in an environment of hate. King Saul's household was under the primary influence of the King's hatred for David. Yet, in the environment of hate, Jonathan (the king's son) loved David deeply. Jonathan loved David more than he loved his father. Jonathan knew no loyalty greater than his loyalty to David.
While King Saul's hatred for David increased as his jealousy and fear grew, the King's son (Jonathan) grew in his love for David. The same actions and attitudes that produced hate in Saul produced love in Jonathan. While Jonathan had great respect for his father, his loyalty and love for David was even greater.
David and Jonathan's friendship is one of scripture's great friendships. Scripture says their souls were knit together (1 Samuel 18:1). Early in their friendship, Jonathan gave David his robe, armor, belt, sword, and bow (1 Samuel 18:4).
David and Jonathan shared the bonds of a true friendship. This was a friendship that existed in spite of King Saul's aggressive discouragement.
1 Samuel 19:1 states that even though King Saul instructed his servants and son to kill David, Jonathan "delighted" in David. He warned David of his father's intent, and he urged David to go into hiding. He promised to plead with his father on David's behalf and to tell David what he found out.
Jonathan's loyalty to David even as his father was determined to kill David evidences the depth of friendship the two men shared.
Jonathan urged his father not to kill David. He reminded the king that David was a valuable source of blessing and benefit to Israel. He said, "If you kill David, you will kill an innocent man. You have no cause to kill David!"
Jonathan's attempt to discourage the King from killing David coupled with Jonathan's determination to affect a reconciliation of his father with David was an enormous act of personal courage. For a son to tell his father he is wrong was not a small thing.
On this occasion, King Saul listened to Jonathan. Jonathan called David and told him of his conversation with his father. He assured David the danger had passed by bringing David to Saul and reestablishing David and Saul's association.
On some occasions Jonathan was ineffective--especially as Saul's hatred and fear grew. However, this time he was genuinely effective in bringing about a temporary reconciliation.
In time, King Saul made two attempts to kill David. The first was when David played music for the deeply depressed king. The second was immediately after that incident when King Saul tried to kill what he thought to be a sick David. Both times David escaped. The second time he escaped with the help of his wife, King Saul's daughter.
The reconciliation Jonathan mediated was truly temporary. King Saul's anger and fear grew beyond Jonathan's persuasiveness. The fact that his own children aided David must have increased King Saul's frustration.
David fled to Samuel at Ramah. In his distress, David asked Jonathan, "What did I do? What is my evil? Why is your father trying to kill me?" Jonathan did not believe King Saul was trying to kill David. He was very close to his father. He declared his father would not hide this intent from him.
It is understandable if someone is angry at you "with cause to be angry." It is confusing if someone is angry at you when there is no understandable cause. David had no idea why King Saul hated him enough to kill him. He was genuinely loyal to Saul. He had not acted in ways to create a fear of him in Saul. Saul's murderous jealousy confused David. Saul in his jealousy had hidden his intent from Jonathan. Jonathan assumed the closeness existing between him and his father made it impossible for King Saul to hide this intent from Jonathan.
David replied, "Your father knows we are close friends. He does not want you to be grieved, so he is not telling you. However, the truth is that he is near success." Jonathan felt such loyalty to David he said, "I will do anything you want me to do."
David's understanding of the situation was simple: "Your father knows the strength of our friendship. In that knowledge, he does not wish to grieve you." David understood how close King Saul was to success in killing him. Jonathan's loyalty to David continued to be greater than his loyalty to his father. King Saul was not a just or godly man; Jonathan was a just, godly man. The values of the father and the son were distinctly different.
David proposed a test to be conducted with Jonathan's help. It was the time of the new moon. Israel functioned on a lunar calendar. The first day of the month was based on the first sighting of the new moon. This was an occasion of religious feasting, also a time for rest, worship, and sacrifice. From this first sighting of the crescent moon all Jewish festival days were calculated. In Old Testament Jewish society, the first sighting of the crescent moon was extremely important.
The test basically involved King Saul's reaction to David's absence from the King's new moon feast. The King expected David to be at this feast. It was David's responsibility to be present.
Jonathan was to declare to his father, if the King asked, that David was absent from the King's feast of the new moon so he could attend a family sacrifice at Bethlehem. If the King thought David's absence was good, all was well. However, if the King was angry because David was absent, he planned to kill David.
If the King agreed with Jonathan's permission for David to be absent, that was to be the trusted sign that all was well. If the King was angry at Jonathan's decision, that was to be the trusted sign that the King intended to kill David.
If the King was angry with David with just cause, then David asked Jonathan to kill him rather than turning him over to King Saul. Jonathan said such would never happen! Instead, he devised a means of informing David of his father's reaction.
David would prefer to be killed by his friend than by his enemy. Jonathan intended that David not be killed regardless of what Jonathan learned.
Before the feast was concluded, Saul was so angry with Jonathan that he called him "the son of a perverse, rebellious woman." He said Jonathan was a disgrace to the family. The King said the only way Jonathan would rule Israel was if David were killed. The King even threw a spear at his son!
The King left no doubt in Jonathan's mind as to his intent. Jonathan endured a double insult: (1) The knowledge that his father was not as close to him as he thought, and (2) the knowledge that the death of his best friend was intended by his father.
An angry Jonathan left the table without eating, informed David of his father's reaction, and wept with David as he urged David to flee.
The manner that Jonathan left the feast was evidence of the depth of his friendship with David. David's covenant and weeping evidenced the depth of his friendship with Jonathan.
King Saul's hatred made it impossible for David and Jonathan to enjoy their friendship. David never had the joy of being with Jonathan again. Yet, David refused to harm King Saul.
While King Saul's jealousy, fear, and hatred of David made it impossible for David and Jonathan to share the joys of their friendship, David refused to allow King Saul's hatred for him to create an attitude of hatred in him.
For Thought And Discussion
This discussion will be unique to each person in the class. Listen and seek to understand the value/benefit the person declares.
This also will be unique to each person in the class. Capitalize on as many shared feeling and emotions as possible.
Yes, love can survive in an environment of hate. The hate of King Saul for David and the love of Jonathan for David illustrates this fact.
Jonathan's love and loyalty for David exceeded his closeness to his father in a period when father-son relationships were primary. David did not resent the King's son for the King's attitudes and actions.
He assured David by bringing David to Saul and reconciling the two.
Michal, the King's daughter and David's wife, urged David to flee promptly, helped David escape, and produced a figure in bed that made it look like David was still there.
Jonathan did not believe the King was trying to kill David because his father had not indicated this intent to him. He felt he was too close to his father for this matter to be hidden from him.
David's explanation: Your father knows we are good friends, and he does not wish to grieve you.
David proposed a test that would examine King Saul's reaction to David's absence at the feast of the new moon.
The new moon determined when a month began and was critical to determining when important festival days and times of national worship were to be held.
That reaction would verify there was no danger.
That reaction would verify King Saul intended to kill David.
King Saul thought perhaps David was "unclean" and was purifying himself to prepare to take the feast.
He used an arrow and an instruction to the boy gathering his arrows to declare the news to a hiding David. After the boy left, David and Jonathan said good-bye to each other in a face-to- face encounter.
Link to Student Guide Lesson 4
previous page | table of contents | next lesson