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.
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).
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 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!"
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
For Thought And Discussion
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 4
previous page | table of contents | next lesson